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Parliament approves EU’s €672.5bn Covid-19 recovery fund

Fund will bolster investment in R&D, among other areas

The European Parliament has signed off the EU’s planned €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility, the main part of the bloc’s €750bn fund for stimulating its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, including through bolstering R&D investments.

MEPs voted in favour of a deal on the RRF on 10 February, signing off an agreement it reached with national governments in the Council of the EU in December. Final approval from the Council is still pending, but the European Commission said it expects all steps to be completed to enable the RRF to enter into force in the second half of February.

Funding from the RRF will flow into six broad areas: environmentally sustainable development, digitisation, economic development, social cohesion, health and social resilience, and policies for the future. At least 37 per cent of the funds must be spent on the first area, and at least 20 per cent on the second.

National governments have significant sway over how the funding is spent within their country, and some have already indicated that they intend invest a portion of their funds in R&D. Their plans for using the money by 2026 must be approved by the Commission and Council. So far, 19 EU countries have submitted most or all of their draft spending plans to the Commission, the news site EurActiv reported on 10 February, ahead of a deadline of 30 April.