Good morning everyone,
The coronavirus has shaken Europe and the world, testing our healthcare systems, our societies and our economies.
The depth of the crisis and the speed of the recovery will depend on how the pandemic evolves and how well - how quickly - we can safely restart economic activity.
Our recovery strategy is based on 3 fundamental concepts: solidarity, cohesion and resilience. No one should be left behind.
Yesterday, we proposed a major recovery plan: a new instrument, Next Generation EU, embedded within a powerful and modern long-term EU budget.
It will bring us €750 billion in fresh money, financed by the European Union issuing bonds in the capital markets. This is made possible by raising the budget headroom.
Along with the three safety nets already agreed, this brings our crisis and recovery effort to a total of €1.3 trillion, and that it comes on top of the next EU multi-annual budget. It is an unrivalled response to an unprecedented crisis.
This will go a long way towards meeting the investment gaps identified in our needs assessment. If we count the impact of this crisis as well as the challenges raised by the green and digital transitions, the EU faces an investment gap of at least €1.5 trillion this year and next - with the majority on the private sector.
We have used a variety of instruments that complement each other and offer a flexible, comprehensive response to the many differing needs of our countries and our businesses.
Our recovery plan looks to the future. Europe should bounce back from this shock, but also leap ahead in terms of driving forward much-needed reforms and accelerating the twin transitions - green and digital.
This is why, today, we are presenting the Recovery and Resilience Facility. This is the largest tool in our recovery package, with a firepower of €560 billion.
It will help Member States to address economic and social challenges in the aftermath of the crisis.
It has two complementary goals:
First, to promote the EU's economic, social and territorial cohesion, by improving the capacity of national economies to thrive and also deal with any future shocks.
Second, to support the greening and digitalisation of our economies. To give you one example: we are committing to investing in tomorrow's technologies - whether green tech, or digital and data infrastructure. This will allow us to stay globally competitive.
As I mentioned earlier, this crisis will create an immense investment gap. This comes from lower levels of demand, supply side disruptions and worsening financing conditions.
Businesses and governments will also need to invest to adapt to the ‘new normal' and to address the vulnerabilities exposed by the virus.
All this will come on top of the very sizeable investments needed to advance and achieve the green and digital transitions. Both remain high on the Commission's agenda.
This new Facility will contribute to filling the gap with €310 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans.
It will help Member States to finance growth-enhancing reforms. Economic issues and social cohesion will not only require a significant increase in investment. It will also require renewed ambition in terms of reforms, improving productivity and the business environment.
We must work together so that structural weaknesses and imbalances do not hold back our recovery.
So how will this facility work in practice?
Support will be available to all Member States - but we will concentrate on the countries most affected and where the needs are the greatest.
As the President said yesterday: we must prevent any further widening of existing disparities between countries, regions or people.
The recovery will be driven by a complex mix of factors. It is not only about the damage caused, but also the capacity to cope with the shock and then to rebound.
Therefore, to determine the allocations per country we will take into account, among others, the relative prosperity and average unemployment rate.
Paolo will explain this in more detail.
First, Member States wishing to benefit from this facility will need to prepare recovery and resilience plans.
They can do so every year in April with their National Reform Plans, or earlier in October of the previous year with their draft budgets.
These plans will be then assessed by the European Commission.
Here comes the crucial link with the European Semester.
When presenting its national plan, each country will have to explain how it contributes to achieving the priorities identified in the European Semester.
This will ensure that expenditures are well targeted and used. It also means that EU-level priorities translate into results on the ground in each country.
Countries will need to take full political ownership of their reforms - as has always been the case with the European Semester.
As you know, the European Semester is both about tackling economic and social challenges. This will also be reflected in this new facility. National reform plans should address both dimensions, depending on the specific situation in each country.
This means modernising economies: to make them more agile, more dynamic, greener and more digital. And improving productivity and the business environment.
Reforms should also target the severe social consequences of the crisis, by investing in people's education and skills, to improve research and innovation, in order to promote employment and social inclusion.
The Commission will also assess coherence with national energy and climate plans, the just transition plans, and the partnership agreements and operational programmes adopted under the Union funds.
To conclude, this crisis has shown that unforeseen risks can suddenly materialise with devastating consequences. Complacency is not an option. To address existing and future challenges, we need to up our game with the right balance of investment projects and reforms.
The Recovery and Resilience Facility will help to boost our resilience, to revamp our economies where needed, and to innovate.
It is how we can lay the foundations for a European Union which is more resilient, climate-neutral and digital. For us and for the next generation.
Thank you, and now I hand over to Paolo.