© Reuters. European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
By Jan Strupczewski
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission recommended on Thursday that EU governments spend money from the 750 billion euro EU recovery package to boost the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic on green energy, transport and investment in digitalisation.
The recommendations come in guidelines issued to the 27-nation bloc on how to write up applications for cash from the recovery package so that the Commission, which will be in charge of reviewing them, can accept them.
“The guidance we are providing today aims to help Member States to prepare high quality national plans in line with our commonly agreed objectives. Not only so that funding can start flowing as swiftly as possible to support the recovery, but so that it can be a driver of truly transformational change,” EU Economics Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said.
The Commission said it “strongly encouraged” EU governments to include in their plans investment and reforms in seven key areas the bloc wants to focus on.
These include clean energy technologies and acceleration of the development and use of renewable energy sources as well renovation to improve the energy efficiency of public and private buildings.
The EU also executive wants to see clean technologies in public transport, charging and refuelling stations for electric or hydrogen power cars and a fast roll out of broadband services and 5G mobile networks.
EU governments can also spend the cash on the digitalisation of public administration and services, including judicial and healthcare systems and on an increase in European industrial data cloud capacities and the development of the most powerful, cutting edge, and sustainable processors.
Finally the Commission would like to see investment in the adaptation of education systems to support digital skills and educational and vocational training for all ages.
EU governments can formally apply for grants and loans from the recovery package from the start of next year until the end of April, but the Commission would like them to send in their preliminary projects already from Oct 15th so that they can be discussed in advance to make sure they are accepted.