EUROPEAN STRUCTURAL AND INVESTMENT FUNDS: SPENDING DOUBLED IN 2019-2020
On April 28, the Commission published a report stating that the rate of investment of the five European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), the major source of funding to support the objectives of the European Green Deal has accelerated significantly in the past two years in the EU.
This significant increase in spending in 2020 shows that, despite the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus crisis, the use of structural funds supporting investment in Europe's regions has boosted, as a result of the flexibility introduced in the Cohesion policy legislation provided by the Coronavirus Response Investment initiatives allowing Member States to redirect unspent resources to the areas most in need of support. In this regard, more than €22 billion have been used to support healthcare sectors, SMEs, employment and vulnerable population groups in almost all Member States.
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, declared: "Cohesion policy is delivering. The figures speak for themselves: the increase in spending testifies to the EU's solidarity, as our unprecedented response to the coronavirus crisis helps millions of Europeans and businesses get back on their feet and participate in the economic and social recovery.”
RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE FACILITY: FRANCE SUBMITS OFFICIAL RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE PLAN
On April 29, the Commission received an official recovery and resilience plan from France. This plan sets out the reforms and public investment projects that France plans to implement with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).
The RRF is the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU, the EU's plan for emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation of this plan follows intensive dialogue between the Commission and the French national authorities over the past months.
France has requested a total of €40.9 billion in grants under the RRF. The French plan is structured around the three pillars of resilience, green and digital transformation and it places a particular emphasis on the fight against climate change thanks to investments in energy-efficiency, sustainable transport and green technologies. The Commission will assess the French plan within the next two months based on the eleven criteria set out in the Regulation and translate their contents into legally binding acts.
THE EC PUBLISHES A STUDY ON NEW GENOMIC TECHNIQUES AND PLANS DEBATE
The study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), which has been published by the European Commission at the request of the Council on April 29, reveals new methods for genome alteration which might be included in the Farm to Fork Strategy and the European Green Deal.
The current legal framework for GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) adopted in 2001 shows incompatibility with NGTs, thus the study suggests review of legislation in favor of these technologies. An open consultation process for the design of a new framework is expected within the Commission.
The results of the study highlight how these biotechnologies can contribute to sustainable food systems by producing plants that are more resistant and adaptable to diseases and climate change effects. However, several concerns are associated with NGTs and their application, with reference to a potential harm for the safety of the environment and their impact on biodiversity, as well as the need to protect the coexistence with GM-free, organic agriculture and the obligation of labelling.