Download publication

Policy Contribution

European Union recovery funds: strings attached, but not tied up in knots

Ensuring effective recovery spending is a high-stakes challenge for the European Union, with the potential for derailment because of fuzzy objectives and overloaded procedures. The EU should work with member countries to identify limited policies that will maximise the impact of EU investment, while accounting for spillovers.

By: Date: October 27, 2020 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The European Union’s plan for aiding recovery in member states hit by the coronavirus crisis has been rightly hailed as a major breakthrough for the bloc. But there is much less clarity on the plan’s economic aims, its priorities and the content of the contractual arrangements it should entail between the EU and member countries. The plan’s main plank, the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is widely seen as a short-term Keynesian stimulus. The EU debt is expected to be repaid through contributions from member states, but this has not stopped the resulting transfers as being seen, including by national governments, as money from heaven. There has also been controversy over the conditions attached to grants and loans.

Such fuzziness over objectives and overloaded procedures can derail the RRF. The EU needs to make an effort to provide clarity from the outset and put the plan on the right track. It should acknowledge and emphasise that the main goal of the RRF is not to contribute to immediate relief or a Keynesian stimulus, but to foster structural transformation, especially in less-advanced and harder-hit member states.

The EU should hold back from trying to impose through overall policy conditionality its reform agenda on the member states. Instead, there should be a narrow-conditionality approach in which reforms that strongly complement intended investments should be identified and bundled with that investment. A grant aimed at encouraging decarbonisation in the transport sector, for example, would, be made conditional on the elimination of transport fuel subsidies. Therefore, in national recovery and resilience plans, each bundle of investments and reforms should be focused on the limited set of policy measures that need to be implemented to maximise the impact of EU-financed investment.

Meanwhile, complementarity across objectives should be addressed through a dialogue with each member state on the sectoral allocation of EU funding and the overall architecture of their recovery and resilience plans. And the EU should emphasise when relevant the cross-border dimension of investment plans and find ways to encourage member states to cooperate on the design and the implementation of their plans.

Recommended citation
Pisani-Ferry, J. (2020) ‘European Union recovery funds: strings attached, but not tied up in knots’, Policy Contribution 2020/19, Bruegel

Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

The scarring effect of COVID-19: youth unemployment in Europe

Even before the pandemic, youth unemployment in the European Union was three times higher than among the over-55s. COVID-19 threatens to undo the last decade of progress: policymakers must act to avoid Europe’s youth suffering the scarring effect.

By: Monika Grzegorczyk and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 28, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

Grading the big pandemic test

COVID-19 almost one year on, it is time to assess who passed the test, and who failed.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 27, 2020
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Europe is losing competitiveness in global value chains while China surges

The European Union owes much of its economic weight to its regional value chain and integration into the global value chain. But the EU’s global value chain role is shrinking, and while EU trade integration with China is increasing, it is mainly to China’s benefit, undermining the EU’s external competitiveness.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and David Martínez Turégano Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 27, 2020
Read article More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

Steering the boat towards an unknown destination

Shocks pass, but change remains a constant. We need to start focusing on permanent changes in the economy and how to adapt to them.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: November 25, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

Dec
15-16
11:30

India-EU Partnership: Vistas for the New Decade

Serving and retired government officials, representatives of the private sector, media and institutions/academia come together to review the of India-EU relations and point to a promising direction for the future.

Speakers: Yamini Aiyar, Suman Bery, Navroz K Dubash, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Alicia García-Herrero, Rajat Kathuria, Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Ananth Padmanabhan, Georgios Petropoulos, André Sapir, Shyam Saran, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF More by this author
 

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

Euro area accession countries in the context of the pandemic

Testimony before the European Parliament on the subject of euro area accession.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: November 19, 2020
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

External Publication

The evolution of European economic institutions during the COVID-19 crisis

This article discusses how the European institutions reacted and evolved during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis in the first half of 2020.

By: Antoine Camous and Grégory Claeys Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 19, 2020
Read article Download PDF More by this author
 

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

New life for an old framework: redesigning the European Union's expenditure and golden fiscal rules

Testimony before the European Parliament on the subject of EU fiscal policies.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: November 17, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

COVID-19 could leave another generation of young people on the scrapheap

It is time that the highest political level focuses on the risk of a lost generation.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 12, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

Next Generation EU payments across countries and years

How much cake does everyone actually get and at what speed? This blogpost estimates the yearly Next Generation EU (NGEU) payments to each EU country at current prices in euros and as a share of GNI.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 12, 2020
Read article Download PDF
 

External Publication

European Parliament

Monetary policy in the time of COVID-19, or how uncertainty is here to stay

The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the uncertainty that has come to characterise the European economy. We explore how this uncertainty manifests itself in terms of ECB decision-making and the long-run challenges the ECB faces.

By: Maria Demertzis and Marta Domínguez-Jiménez Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: November 12, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Conference on European Economic Integration

How can the CESEE region become more resilient to such painful shocks and expand its policy space to support recovery? 

Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: November 5, 2020
Load more posts