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Member states clear way for EU’s Covid and cohesion funds

Ratification means Commission can start borrowing for €750 billion Covid pot

Every EU country has now ratified the laws underpinning the bloc’s €750 billion Covid-19 recovery fund, Next Generation EU, meaning the European Commission can start to borrow for the fund from markets.

The fund, which was formally created on 1 June, includes the €672.5bn Recovery and Resilience Facility, which EU countries will each spend a share of—on activities potentially including R&D—based on plans submitted to the Commission.

The Commission said on 31 May that it had received 22 out of 27 national spending plans. Each must be approved by the Commission and EU finance ministers before money can start to flow.

Ratification was completed on 27 March with votes in the Austrian and Polish parliaments, the budget commissioner Johannes Hahn tweeted.

The approval process is expected to take no more than three months from the initial submission, and the Commission has said it will pay out up to 13 per cent of each national share as soon as plans are approved.

EU governments have also given the green light to the EU’s regional development spending for 2021-27, worth more than €330bn in 2018 prices. This funding scheme still requires the final sign off of the European Parliament, which is expected in June.

Some of the more than €1 trillion in public funding that is soon to be unlocked will be channelled into research, innovation and education. Both pots will be used to boost digitisation and environmental sustainability—EU spending priorities for the years ahead.