European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that Cyprus’ recovery and resilience plan was well balanced and addressed key structural challenges it was faced with, as the EU adopted a positive assessment of the proposals in an important step for the disbursal of €1.2bn in grants and loans.
“It is very well balanced in reforms and investment,” von der Leyen said during a news conference with President Nicos Anastasiades. “It addresses the key structural challenges that Cyprus is facing.”
The Commission president said the plan followed the excellent cooperation between the EU and Cypriot authorities.
“It was hard work over many, many, weeks,” she said.
Von der Leyen said the plan was designed in Cyprus and was expected to spur growth that will deeply improve, modernise, and transform the Cypriot economy.
“It is ambitious, it is farsighted, and it will spur the growth necessary for a better future,” she said.
The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide up to €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU.
The Cypriot plan forms part of an unprecedented, coordinated EU response to the Covid-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing the green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and the cohesion of the Single Market.
The Commission assessed Cyprus’ plan based on the criteria set out in the RRF Regulation. Its analysis considered, in particular, whether the investments and reforms set out in Cyprus’ plan support the green and digital transitions; contribute to effectively addressing challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen its growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience.
The Commission’s assessment found that Cyprus’ plan devotes 41 per cent of total allocation to measures that support climate objectives.
The plan includes reforms relating to the introduction of green taxation, the liberalisation of the electricity market, facilitating energy renovations in buildings and accelerating electric mobility.
The plan further includes a broad range of energy efficiency and renewable energy investments targeting households, enterprises, municipalities and the wider public sector and non-governmental organisations.
Twenty-three per cent of total allocation is devoted to measures that support the digital transition. It includes investments in connectivity, promotes digital education and skills by enhancing digital infrastructure and curricula in schools, training teachers, and investing in digital skills training programmes. It also contains projects expected to promote the digitalisation of public services and the digital transformation of the courts system.
The plan includes measures to strengthen the public employment services, with a particular focus on youth employment.
It provides for measures to increase the quality of education and training.
It also supports early childhood education and care by extending free compulsory pre-primary education from the age of four, investing in childcare centres accompanied by a national action plan on early childhood education that aims to foster equal opportunities for all children and fulltime labour market participation of carers, notably women.
The implementation of the plan is expected to strengthen the capacity, quality and resilience of the health and civil protection systems through measures aiming at upgrading infrastructure and equipment and setting up dedicated information systems, next to promoting investments in communication systems and e-Health.