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EU seeks evidence on benefits of Covid-19 recovery cash

Commission building “pertinent reference point” for assessment of billions channelled to R&D and other projects

The European Commission is seeking evidence for how well its Covid-19 recovery funds are working, including the vast sums channelled via this scheme to R&D projects.

The €723 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility, established in 2021, is the bloc’s main tool to mitigate economic and social effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It includes grants and loans that cover activities including research.

The Commission says some €112.8bn has been handed out from the fund to member states as of 8 November.

Now it wants to “provide an early assessment…of how the Recovery and Resilience Facility is delivering on its objectives”.

Among its questions are the effectiveness of the spending and its coherence with other policy instruments.

Large amounts of money have been earmarked for scientific projects and direct improvements to national research systems, under plans drawn up by member states and signed off by the Commission.

Germany plans to channel much of its share of the money to 42 per cent of the total funds allocated to the country to measures that support climate objectives, while France is targeting environmental measures including hydrogen energy, as well as the so-called “digital transition” and cloud computing. Italy is putting around €31bn of the money into research and innovation (see From our correspondents: Road to recovery for more on this topic).

The deadline to submit evidence is 6 December, and the mechanism itself is scheduled to run until the end of 2026.

The Commission said evaluation results will be a “pertinent reference point” to “assess the merits” of this method of supporting member states.