85 billion for sustainable transport in EU recovery plans

European parliament

European member states will collectively allocate at least 85 billion euros to sustainably transport as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans to support the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced this on Tuesday.

The 85 billion of the plans submitted by EU countries will be used to boost sustainable transport. This includes digital railway infrastructure, charging stations for electric cars, or seamless urban mobility, said Ursula von der Leyen in a speech at the European Parliament Plenary on Tuesday.

To recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the EU set up the NextGenerationEU recovery package. This comes on top of the regular EU budget, and includes seven instruments. The largest of these is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). EU countries could submit national recovery and resilience plans that describe the reforms and public investment projects they plan to implement with the support of the RRF. A minimum of 37 percent should go to climate and 20 percent to digitalisation in the plans.

The RRF will provide grants amounting to at most 338 billion (312.5 billion euros at 2018 prices, when the plans were first made), and loans amounting to at most 390 billion (360 billion at 2018 prices). The entire NextGenerationEU scheme consists of 806.9 billion (750 billion at 2018 prices).

Money to start flowing

“The money will start flowing in the coming weeks. These plans send a clear message: Europeans are ready for a new start. Our citizens are ready to embrace a more sustainable, more digital and more resilient future”, said von der Leyen.

Up to now, the Commission has received 23 national recovery plans or the RFF. Only Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta and the Netherlands have not yet sent in a plan. EU countries should have officially submitted their recovery and resilience plans by 30 April 2021, but this deadline is flexible and the Commission has argued that countries can submit their plans up to mid-2022. The Commission has announced to start borrowing to finance the recovery under NextGenerationEU in June.

Sustainable transport

Rail could also benefit from funding allocated to other sectors. For example, 50 billion was allocated to develop clean energy including hydrogen. Another 50 billion has been allocated to improve buildings.

“These are exactly the kinds of investment we want to encourage, because transport and buildings today are among the main emitters of greenhouse gases”, said von der Leyen. “We see the same ambition with regard to our other landmark goal – digitalisation. We already know that, taken together, all the Member States will be investing significantly more in digitalisation than the 20 percent required under NextGenerationEU. From cross-border 5G corridors to the roll-out of broadband to rural areas, from the digitalisation of public services to the development of the next generation of microprocessors — all these are indeed plans for the next generation.”

Author: Esther Geerts

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