COVID-19 has shaken Europe and the world to its core, testing our welfare and healthcare systems, our economies and societies, as well as our way of living and working together. To facilitate the repair of the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the pandemic and prepare for a better, stable future, the European Commission has launched a new resilience and recovery instrument, called “Next Generation EU” (NextGen EU).
NextGen EU is a €750 billion temporary recovery instrument. The funds from the NextGen EU programme will be invested across three pillars.
- Support European member states in their post COVID-19 recovery;
- Incentivize private investment and boost the economy;
- Prepare Europe for the future and translating lessons learned from the current crisis to tangible actions.
By investing in these pillars, post-COVID-19 Europe will be greener, more digital, more resilient and will provide a better fit for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. NextGen EU will leverage existing European programmes to address these four key topics.
Impact on businesses
Particularly interesting for companies is the Horizon Europe programme, the European Union’s Research & Innovation Framework programme. As the successor of the “Horizon 2020” programme, it is conceived to sustainably support research and innovation all the way from fundamental concept to market uptake. Horizon Europe has a total budget of €95.5 billion, of which €5.4 billion comes from the NextGen EU programme. With Horizon Europe, the European Commission will boost its stimulating impact on science, society and economy by focussing on the creation of high-quality new knowledge and fostering the diffusion of knowledge, addressing global challenges through research and innovation, and generating innovation-based economic growth, jobs as well as leveraging investments in research and innovation.
Today, as the previous funding programme is closed, the specific calls for projects under the “Horizon Europe” are still to be communicated officially. We expect these to be published at the end of March or beginning of April 2021, with first deadlines in fall 2021.
Although the details of the specific project calls are not available yet, the programme will mainly support pan-European collaborative projects addressing global challenges (Health, Climate, natural resource, mobility, and energy) and boosting European industrial competitiveness. A specific sub-programme will also support innovative high-tech European SMEs in order to support their growth.
As part of the NextGen EU support for member states, a total of €5.9 billion is foreseen for Belgium. On January 11th 2021, the Belgian authorities reached an agreement on how to divide this amount amongst its local governments. Flanders will receive the lion’s share of about €2.25 billion, while Wallonia will receive €1.48 billion and the federal government €1.25 billion. Brussels, the French and the German community will receive respectively €495 million, €395 million and €50 million. Based on the “Nota-Dermine”, these funds will be used to invest in projects related to sustainability, digitalisation, mobility, welfare and productivity. In the coming weeks, each regional authority will determine how they will effectively distribute the funding amounts across these topics. After revision of Belgium’s plans by the Commission in April, more information will become available on the specific allocation of funds.