More details have been released about the Next Generation EU funding for Spain of 69.5 billion euros that was announced on Wednesday.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, confirmed details about the support, which is based on Spain’s recovery and resilience plan, outlining its response to the pandemic.
The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) will disburse the funding over the period 2021–2026. A total of 672.5 billion euros will support investments and reforms across the EU, with Spain receiving the second largest amount of funding, behind Italy. The country is actually set to receive 140 billion euros over the period 2021-2026 – half in direct payments, half in loans, after the entire EU’s economy buckled under lockdown restrictions, job losses and reduced consumer spending.
As part of its assessment of the plans, the EU Commission considered how the proposals addressed challenges relating to green and digital transitions, along with contributions to strengthening growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience.
The assessment found that Spain’s plans involved 40% of its allocation to support climate objectives, including steps to promote urban and long-distance sustainable mobility, increasing energy efficiency of buildings and decarbonisation, along with new technologies for green hydrogen and renewable energy.
Other measures included in the plan promoted the circular economy, by improvements to water and waste management, mitigating the effects of climate change and preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.
The plan also allocated 28% of its total to digital transition, including the digitalisation of public administration, industry and business, with a specific programme for digitalisation of SMEs.
Confirming details of the support package, von der Leyen said, ‘I am delighted to present the European Commission’s positive assessment of Spain’s 69.5 billion euros recovery and resilience plan. This plan will deeply transform Spain’s economy, make it greener, more digital, more resilient. We have endorsed this plan because it is ambitious, far-sighted and will help build a better future for the Spanish people. The strong national ownership of the plan bodes well for its successful implementation.’
There are high expectations about the plans and the benefits that will come from implementation, with an emphasis on green and digital transition.
Speaking about the plan, the EU Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, said, ‘This is a unique opportunity not only to strengthen the country’s recovery from the pandemic, but to build an economy that is more socially just, more sustainable and more dynamic. In short, an economy that better serves all segments of Spanish society.’
Spain’s economy was the hardest hit by the pandemic in the EU, contracting by 10.8% in 2020.
It is hoped that the EU funds will help to not only stabilise the economy but help a return to growth and transform in a similar way to that experienced with entry into the European Community in 1986.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will now meet with the heads of the regional governments in the next month, to discuss the plan.
Keen to highlight the cohesive approach to the plan, Sánchez said, ‘Our aim is to make sure that the recovery is quick and fair – so that no one region and no generation is left behind – and that we look towards the future. This is a nationwide plan; a plan that involves all of us. We have an enormous opportunity to modernise our country for the generations to come.’