The European Commission has today disbursed €770 million to Belgium in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation. Belgium is one of the first countries receiving a pre-financing payment under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). It will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Belgium's recovery and resilience plan.
The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Belgium's recovery and resilience plan. The country is set to receive €5.9 billion in total, fully consisting of grants, over the lifetime of its plan.
Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to Member States under NextGenerationEU.
Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8 billion (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across Member States. The Belgian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies.
Supporting transformative investments and reform projects
The RRF in Belgium finances investments and reforms that are expected to have a deeply transformative effect on Belgium's economy and society. Here are some of these projects:
-Securing the green transition: The RRF invests €400 million in climate change adaptation in measures to restore biodiversity and increase resilience towards climate change, to buffer against floods, droughts and heat effects. This includes circular water use projects, investments in a coherent network of protected areas for nature and climate-resilient forests, for the re-meandering of rivers and the creation and restoration of wet nature and valleys.
-Supporting the digital transition: Belgium's plan has an ambitious skills agenda. This includes investments of €480 million in a more inclusive and future-proof education system across language communities with improved digital and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills of pupils and students and access to digital tools and technology.
-Reinforcing economic and social resilience: the Belgian plan contains measures worth €450 million to improve and expand training to facilitate the integration of vulnerable groups - including people with a migrant background, the low-skilled, people with disabilities - and to improve access to the labour market for job seekers.
Members of the College said
President Ursula von der Leyen said: “This first disbursement is great news for Belgium and the Belgian people. Belgium is already an innovation front-runner, but NextGenerationEU will give the country the resources needed to go fully green and digital. I hope to see many other great digital projects like the one I visited in Brussels a month ago. Success stories made in Belgium, supported by the EU.”
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Budget and Administration said: “After three very successful bond issuances under NextGenerationEU over the past few weeks, and the first payments for other NGEU programmes, I am glad that we have now also reached the disbursement stage for the RRF. Intense cooperation with Belgium and solid preparation within the Commission allowed us to pay out the funds in record time. This shows that with the resources raised, we will be able to swiftly deliver on the pre-financing needs of all Member States, thus giving them the initial boost in implementing the numerous green and digital projects included in their national plans.”
Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy said: “The first funds we disbursed today will help Belgium emerge stronger from the crisis. Two thirds of Belgium's plan will support the green and digital transitions. Investments in energy-renovations and forest management will help protect the climate. Schools and rural areas will enjoy improved connectivity while the justice, health and social security systems will see major improvements in efficiency through digitalisation. The ambitious skills programme will enable many Belgians to acquire new skills. All this is the result of Europe working together.”
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