Study informing the mid-term evaluation of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility

The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is a key EU innovative and performance-based instrument of unprecedented scale and ambition (€723 billion). It supports EU Member States in making their economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and prepared for the green and digital transitions, addresses the challenges identified in country-specific recommendations and provides support in the implementation of the REPowerEU plan. In line with their National Recovery and Resilience Plans, Member States are implementing reforms and investments across policy areas up to 2026. 

This study is the result of a collaborative effort of researchers led by a consortium consisting of Ecorys, CEPS, CSIL, NIESR and Wavestone. They study has been commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) and assessed the RRF according to the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence, and EU added value.  

You can read the study here and the related case studies here.

Key findings of the study

  • The RRF provides significant financing on a scale that could not be attained by Member States only and serves as a common response to challenges across the EU. The RRF has helped to avoid financial fragmentation and divergence among Member States. It also provided a common and synchronised EU response to common challenges such as the COVID-19 socio-economic crisis, and the energy crisis, and has supported the EU’s green transition and digital transformation.  
  • The RRF has been estimated to have (had) a positive macroeconomic effect on GDP and lowering unemployment.  GDP was estimated to be 0.4 per cent higher in 2022 than it would have been in the absence of RRF spending, and unemployment would have been lowered by 0.2 percentage points relative to what it would have been in the absence of the RRF.  
  • The RRF has faced some implementation challenges, which have affected (the speed and cost of) the implementation of the RRF measures.  In 2023 increased risks of delays in the financial implementation of the RRF emerged. The implementation challenges encountered are linked to external factors (e.g. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, energy crisis, inflation, supply and labour shortages) and internal factors (e.g. low administrative capacity, political instability, low awareness of end recipients). Member States have adopted different strategies to deal with these factors.  
  • The performance-based approach of the RRF has been largely positively welcomed but has also had several implementation challenges.  A large majority of national coordination bodies and EU institutions acknowledge the conditionality of payments upon fulfilment of milestones and targets rather than costs incurred as one of the most effective aspects of the RRF. Challenges in implementation are for Member States, however, present (e.g. lack of clarity and inefficiencies linked to the assessment, disbursement procedures, changing the plans, reporting and coordination and division of labour between different audit and control bodies). 

Next steps and outcomes  

The study has provided an objective and comprehensive assessment of the RRF and has been the primary source of information for the mid-term evaluation report of the RRF. This Staff Working Document builds on the study within all its sections (including more than 200 explicit references to the study) and mentions the original answers to the evaluation questions in its annexes. Ecorys will continue to monitor how the study’s findings will be utilised in the improvement of the RRF implementation and impacts.  

22 February 2024

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