How did the Commission assess France's first payment request?
On 26 November 2021, France submitted to the Commission a request for the disbursement of €7.4 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The request was based on the achievement of the 38 milestones and targets for the first instalment, as outlined in the Council Implementing Decision approving the plan. They cover reforms in the areas of public finance, housing, mobility, unemployment insurance, skills, and health, as well as France's audit and control system for the implementation of the RRF. Several targets concern major investments in the fields of energy renovation of buildings, decarbonisation of industry, clean vehicles, research, youth employment, and education. In line with the RRF Regulation, the Commission had up to two months to carry out its preliminary assessment of the request.
With their request, the French authorities provided detailed and comprehensive evidence demonstrating the fulfilment of the 38 milestones and targets. The Commission has thoroughly assessed this information before endorsing the positive preliminary assessment of the payment request.
What are the next steps?
The Commission has now sent the positive preliminary assessment of France's fulfilment of the milestones and targets required for this payment to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC's opinion, to be delivered within maximum four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission's assessment. The Commission will adopt the decision on the disbursement of the financial contribution, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. Following the adoption of this decision by the Commission, the disbursement to France would take place. The amounts disbursed to the Member States will be published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard. The Commission has also shared its positive preliminary assessment with the European Parliament.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by France so far effectively support the green transition?
The green transition is supported by specific reforms, such as implementing decrees of the Mobility Law to promote cleaner transport, and the ‘green budgeting' system, a reform to increase transparency on how public spending contributes to the green transition. Several targets that will support the green transition were also achieved. They include granting 400.000 bonuses for private housing renovation, the start of energy renovation works for 2.900 public buildings, the payment of 85.000 bonuses to buy clean vehicles, and the purchase of 1.291 electric and hybrid vehicles for the greening of the State car fleet. Finally, authorities validated seven research strategies to innovate in areas contributing to the green transition, with calls for projects to be launched in 2022.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by France so far effectively contribute to the digital transition?
While milestones and targets related to the digital transition are more concentrated in subsequent payment periods, some flagship measures are already included in the first payment. Strategies for key digital innovation technologies were launched in the context of the fourth Future Investment Plan (Plan d'Investissement d'Avenir, PIA). These promote the development of key digital technologies such as cloud, cybersecurity, quantum technologies, and 5G. Subsequent payments will cover calls for proposals and the financing of projects. Calls for projects have already been launched to support teaching, research and innovation ecosystems, another PIA measure, which will for example transform the education system through new innovations, in particular through digital technology.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by France so far contribute to improving France's economic and social situation, and its resilience?
France successfully implemented five milestones related to the governance of public finances and the assessment of the quality of public spending, which will contribute to the general resilience of public finances.
The reform of unemployment benefits also entered into force with the introduction of new rules that should improve the overall resilience of the system. The reform should also help reduce the segmentation of the labour market, and in particular the share of workers on very short-term contracts. The resources of “France Compétences”, the national body managing vocational education and training and apprenticeship, will also be increased.
Several targets were met concerning education and employment, in particular for young people. For example, subsidies were paid for hiring over 330.000 apprentices and 337.000 young people below 26 of age. France also created 16.000 places in higher education.
The resilience of the healthcare and long-term care systems will also be improved by the simplification of the governance of hospitals and the creation of a new branch of social security supporting the independence of the elderly and disabled people.
Does the achievement of these first milestones and targets contribute to an effective implementation of the Plan?
The milestones and targets fulfilled constitute significant steps in the implementation of France's recovery and resilience plan, and of its broader reform agenda. They include important measures, such as reforms in the governance of public finances and the assessment of public spending, the adoption of secondary legislation of the mobility law, which seeks to decarbonise transport, the adoption of a bill to simplify and improve the governance of hospitals, and investments in railway infrastructure and the renovation of public buildings.
France has also validated its control and audit procedures concerning the organisation and treatment of data under the RRF.
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