Article written by: Teresa Cappelli and Giacomo Gherri
European countries have been among the most hit by the health, economic and social crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Union, through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), commits a total of €1.8 trillion to sustain the post-pandemic recovery and to improve the long-term prospects of Europe and its citizens. NextGenerationEU (also branded Recovery Fund) was agreed upon on 21 July 2020, becoming the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget. By submitting a comprehensive national plan, every Member State is eligible to obtain RRF funds to enhance resilience, mitigate impacts of the crisis, as well as support the green and digital transitions.
European Generation believes in the historical significance of this project, and realizes how big of an opportunity this is. Hence, we believe it is crucial, for all European citizens, to understand what national and European leaders are doing to seize such an opportunity. This is the final aim of this series of articles, which we have entitled “YOU are the Next Generation” as to underline the direct impact the decisions taken in the Recovery and Resilience Plans will have especially on younger generations, as well as the responsibility each and every one of us has in shaping the present and the future of Europe.
Plan pour la reprise et la résilience du Luxembourg
The Luxembourg plan sets for a total spending of 93 millions €. The funds are, according to the Commission’s directives, divided into three main items of expenditure: sustainability and green transition, innovation and digitalization and social cohesion.
Sustainability and green transition
With regards to green transition, Luxembourg has set as objective the decarbonisation of transports, public buildings and the production of electricity. Moreover, investments to support communes in protecting the environment and biodiversity have been predisposed. To this regard, it should be noted that - as reported by the European Environment Agency - the economic development of Luxembourg, which led to an increase of the resident population and, consequently, of urbanization, negatively impacted on biodiversity and on water quality. According to the Agency report: “While the overall status of biodiversity is still difficult to assess, national red lists, landscape statistics and monitoring of selected species often show negative trends. For instance, 74% of the species under the "Habitat" Directive are reported in the unfavourable or bad clusters, whereas this percentage is 59% for the species under the "Birds" Directive.” On a positive note, the plan seems to take into account all these issues.
Innovation and digitalization
Being Luxembourg’s economy significantly dependent on financial and banking services, innovation and digitalization have always been on the spotlight of the country’s policies. As a result, the country already benefits from a modern infrastructure and a vibrant tech ecosystem, which the Government aims at enhancing not only through the PRRL, but also through other policy plans, namely the “National Research and Innovation Strategy for Luxembourg” and the “Artificial Intelligence: A Strategic Vision for Luxembourg”.
In this field of intervention, the recovery plan sets out two proposals: first, the development of ultra-secured communication’s infrastructures through quantum technology. For instance, the protection of data is also one of the focus of the aforementioned documents. Second, the recovery plan allocates funds for the digitalization of the public administration with the aim of ensuring its efficiency and effectiveness.
Cohesion, resilience and values
The recovery plan of the Luxembourg Government, with respect to the pillar of cohesion and resilience, focuses on three issues: in the first place, the plan sets out proposals for the enhancement of the IT skills of workers as to ensure their competitiveness on the job market. Secondly, the Luxembourg Government aims at strengthening the healthcare national system through digitalization initiatives. Third, the plan sets out objectives with regards to social housing as to ensure its affordability and durability. Interestingly, investments in public housing are the largest item of expenditure in the plan. This may be due to the fact that the growth of housing costs in Luxembourg - the highest in the European Union, according to Eurostat – has not stopped during the pandemic, pushing citizens to demand for the intervention of the Government.
Lastly, the plan provides for intervention in the field of governance, stressing the need for a stronger action against tax elusion, money laundering and the financing of terrorism.