Belgium applies for first tranche of European Recovery Fund
Belgium has submitted its application to the European Commission for the first tranche of the EU Recovery Fund. State Secretary Thomas Dermine (PS) postponed the application a few months ago, but now that the government has agreed on a new pension deal, the last obstacle has been removed.
With the European Recovery Fund, the European Commission aims to help member states regain their economy after the pandemic. The EU has set aside 806.9 billion euros for this purpose, of which 4.5 billion euros are earmarked for Belgium.
In January, Belgium could have applied for a first tranche of 847 million euros but did not. In return for this money, Belgium has to meet 20 milestones. One of them is pension reform. Although the Belgian government reached an agreement on this last year, it did not live up to expectations.
The new agreement aligns with expectations, so Belgium is entitled to the money. In July 2021, the country received the first payment through pre-financing. Of the 847 million euros now in the pipeline, around 178 million euros are earmarked for the federal level, according to State Secretary Dermine. The total amount is just over 1 billion euros.
The European Commission has two months to assess the current application. This analysis is then reviewed again in working groups. This process can also take a month, after which the Commission will tie the knot. The actual payment is therefore not expected before the beginning of next year.
Dermine plans to apply for a new tranche in the spring, meaning that Belgium should receive more than half of the funds for its relaunch by the end of the legislative period.
Boosting EU economy
The EU Recovery Fund is a temporary stimulus package of more than 800 billion euros to help repair the immediate economic and social damage caused by the pandemic. The plan aims to make Europe greener, more digital and more resilient to current and future challenges.
Some 723.8 billion euros will be available through grants and loans to support reforms and investment in EU member states. To receive funds under this facility, member states must draw up recovery and resilience plans, setting out how they will invest the money. They must also meet the relevant milestones and targets. Before any disbursements can be made under the facility, the Commission will assess whether each milestone and target has been satisfactorily completed.
The remainder of the funds will be disbursed to the EU member states through various EU programmes: Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (React-EU), Horizon Europe, InvestEU, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development or the Just Transition Fund (JTF).
© GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP