NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses positive preliminary assessment of Latvia’s request for €201 million disbursement under Recovery and Resilience Facility

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The European Commission has today published the 2021 Annual Burden Survey, which presents concrete examples of simplification of EU rules in areas such as agriculture and rural development, competition, communications, health and food safety, transport and mobility, and the single market. The 2021 Annual Burden Survey outlines the overarching efforts made by the Commission to simplify and modernise legislation. It is informed by the ‘one in, one out’ approach, including its initial lessons learned from the pilot project, and by the first year of operation of the Fit for Future Platform.

Maros Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “As we accelerate the green and digital transitions to advance Europe’s recovery and respond to the current geopolitical context, we also continue to work hard to ensure that EU legislation is easy to comply with, efficient and fit for the future. This annual overview presents the concrete results of our work on simplifying EU law throughout 2021. At the same time, it shows lessons learnt from the Fit for Future Platform, our high-level expert group, helping us identify and reduce burdens at all levels, as well as from the ‘one in, one out’ approach pilot project. All this input clearly demonstrates that our commitment to evidence-based political decisions which do not create unnecessary burdens for citizens and businesses remains as strong as ever.” 

Progress in the Commission’s simplification and burden reduction work

In 2021, 29 evaluations of existing EU policies were finalised and 35 initiatives including simplification and burden reduction measures were adopted. These initiatives aim to reduce administrative and compliance costs, and streamline, clarify and adjust the relevant legal framework where necessary. In 2021 the Commission’s proposals for funding programmes were adopted, largely retaining the proposed measures to simplify the multiannual financial framework and related procedures. In practice, this will facilitate beneficiaries’ participation, ease the implementation across Member States and enhance impact on the ground. The Commission is regularly examining how unnecessary burdens can be avoided, especially for small and medium-sized companies. We will further revitalise the work of the SME network and support similar initiatives in this regard.

First lessons learnt from introducing the ‘one in, one out’ approach

The ‘one in, one out’ approach, one of the goals of the Political Priorities of the von der Leyen Commission, implies offsetting new burdens with possible impact on business and citizens that may result from the Commission’s legislative proposals, by reducing existing burdens in the same policy area. In the second half of 2021 the Commission carried out a pilot project with ten selected legislative proposals (covering a broad range of policy areas and impacting different sectors and stakeholders) to test the approach, its methodology and related calculations. The work done in the context of the ‘one in, one out’ pilot project and the lessons learnt have helped significantly strengthen the Commission’s working practices by enhancing the quantification and improvement of cost estimates. The Commission is now focusing on fully implementing the ‘one in, one out’ approach that started at the beginning of 2022. The next annual burden survey will provide a first full picture in implementing this milestone of the new generation of better regulation.

Lessons learnt from the work of the Fit for Future Platform

The European Commission has today endorsed a positive preliminary assessment of Latvia’s payment request for €201 million in grants under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU.

On 17 June 2022, Latvia submitted to the Commission a payment request based on the achievement of the nine milestones selected in the Council Implementing Decision for the first instalment. They cover reforms and investments in the areas of the minimum income support system, the adoption of a common model for the development of the last mile broadband connection (to ensure end-user’s access to very high capacity broadband network in regions and rural areas), the regulatory framework for improving the competition environment and reducing corruption risks in public procurement, the strengthening of remote learning networks and institutions, the prevention of money laundering and terrorist and proliferation financing as well as social housing.

With their request, the Latvian authorities provided detailed and comprehensive evidence demonstrating the fulfilment of the nine milestones. The Commission has thoroughly assessed this information before presenting its positive preliminary assessment of the payment request.

The Latvian recovery and resilience plan includes a wide range of investment and reform measures in six thematic components. It is worth €1.8 billion in grants, 13% of which (€237 million) was disbursed to Latvia in pre-financing on 10 September 2021.

Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Member States implementing the investments and reforms outlined in their respective recovery and resilience plans.

Next steps

The Commission has now sent its positive preliminary assessment of Latvia’s fulfilment of the milestones required for this payment to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC’s opinion, to be delivered within a maximum of four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission’s assessment. Following the EFC’s opinion, the Commission will adopt the final decision on the disbursement of the financial contribution, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. Following the adoption of the decision by the Commission, the disbursement to Latvia would take place.

The Commission will assess further payment requests by Latvia based on the fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Council Implementing Decision, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms.

The amounts disbursed to the Member States are published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard, which shows progress of the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plans.

Members of the College said:

President Ursula von der Leyen: “I have good news for Latvia. Sufficient progress has been made under its national recovery and resilience plan, so it is ready to receive a first payment under NextGenerationEU. Once Member States give their greenlight, Latvia will receive 201 million euros as a result of its good and swift progress in implementing the plan’s first set of reforms and investments. These include the development of a minimum income support system, a plan to roll-out broadband throughout the country, as well as the reinforcement of its secondary education network. Latvia, the Commission stands by your side on the way to recovery.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for An Economy that Works for People: “Another step forward for Latvia as it fulfils the first nine milestones set out in its recovery and resilience plan – congratulations. Latvia is pressing ahead with its agenda of reforms and investments, including the further development of its system for minimum income support, along with rules for improving the competition environment and reducing corruption risks in public procurement.  It has also taken steps to boost remote learning, tackle money laundering and improve the supply of affordable housing. Once the Commission’s assessment is reviewed and approved by Member States, Latvia will receive €201 million in grants to help make its economy more inclusive and resilient for years to come.”

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said: “Today we have taken a key step in the implementation of Latvia’s recovery and resilience plan with this positive preliminary assessment of the country’s first payment request. Latvia has adopted important measures including to facilitate remote learning and enable connected and automated driving, as well as to tighten the anti-money laundering framework and to support fair competition in public procurement. Once the relevant procedures are completed, we will be able to disburse €201 million to support the Latvian economy at this challenging time.”

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