The European Commission approved Greece’s resilience plan paving the way for the release of 30.5 billion euros to go towards reforms and investments that will enable the country to emerge stronger after Covid-19.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the news together with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a special event held at the Ancient Agora in the heart of Athens, on Thursday.
“The Commission has given the green light to Greece’s national recovery plan; a plan that belongs to the Greek people and will transform the Greek economy. It will prepare Greece for the future,” he said, adding that 65 percent of the funds allotted to Greece will be channeled into the country’s green and digital transformation.
The Commission decision opens the way for the disbursement of 17.8 billion euros in grants and 12.7 billion euros in loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) over the 2021-2026 period.
According to the Greek plan dubbed “Ellada 2.0”, the support will go towards 68 reforms and 106 flagship investments and aims to create 180,000 new jobs.
Speaking during the outdoor event which included an open discussion with citizens, von der Leyen said Greece’s national recovery plan “was created by the Greeks people, belongs to the Greek people, and will transform the Greek economy. It will prepare Greece for the future”, she said.
“We need to make the best out of it, for the next generations. We will stand with you every step of the way,” she said. Von der Leyen was in Athens on Thursday as part of her NextGenerationEU tour aimed at assessing member states’ recovery plans and whether they are ready to start accepting EU Digital Covid Certificates.
During the event Mitsotakis and von der Leyen had the chance to connect via digital link with the ministers of education, environment, tourism, labor and digital governance who presented initiatives to be covered by the funding.
Greek authorities expect the first disbursement of funds in July.
Greece has come a long way
According to the Commission’s assessment, Greece should direct 38 percent of total allocation to measures that support climate objectives; 23 percent to the digital transition which includes investments in digital infrastructure such 5G and fibre networks as well as in actions that will enable the digital transition of public administration. Investments and reforms also focus on the digitalization of businesses with a particular focus on small and medium sized enterprises as well as on improving digital skills at all levels as part of the education system.
“The Commission considers that Greece’s plan effectively addresses all or a significant subset of the economic and social challenges outlined in the country-specific recommendations addressed to Greece by the Council in the European Semester in 2019 and in 2020,” it said in a statement.
It goes on to add that it finds that “none of the measures included in the plan significantly harm the environment. The controls systems put in place by Greece are considered adequate to protect the financial interests of the Union. The plan provides sufficient details on how national authorities will prevent, detect and correct instances of conflict of interest, corruption and fraud relating to the use of funds.”
The EU’s RRF scheme will provide up to 672.5 billion euros to support investments and reforms across the EU.
“Forty years since Greece joined the Community we are opening a new chapter in the country’s long European story. Greece stands to benefit from more than 30 billion euros in support through NextGenerationEU, financing that will underpin major investments and far-reaching reforms over the next five years,” said Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy.
“This is an ambitious plan that stands to benefit every part of Greece and every segment of Greek society. Greece has come a long way since the last crisis and so has the European Union,” he added.
The European Council has four weeks to adopt the Commission’s decision and from there allow for the disbursement of 4 billion euros to Greece in pre-financing or 13 percent of the total allocated amount.
Additional funding will be released based on the satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined and the progress on the implementation of the relevant investments and reforms.