Brussels, 28 February 2023
The European Commission has today endorsed a positive preliminary assessment of part of the milestones linked to Lithuania’s first payment request under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU.
On 30 November 2022, Lithuania submitted to the Commission a payment request based on the 33 milestones set out in the Council Implementing Decision for the first payment. After looking at the evidence provided by the Lithuanian authorities, the Commission considered 31 out of the 33 milestones to be satisfactorily fulfilled. The 31 milestones that have been satisfactorily fulfilled demonstrate significant progress in the implementation of Lithuania’s recovery and resilience plan. They cover reforms in the areas of the green and digital transition, as well as reforms to the general and vocational education system, measures in support of innovation and science, on social protection and employment, as well as a digital data-storage for monitoring the implementation of the RRF, amongst others.
The Commission has found that two milestones related to taxation (M142 and M144) have not been satisfactorily fulfilled. The Commission acknowledges the first steps already taken by Lithuania to fulfil these outstanding milestones, though important work remains to be done. The Commission is therefore activating the ‘payment suspension’ procedure, as foreseen by Article 24(6) of the RRF Regulation. In line with the RRF Regulation and as explained in the Communication published on 21 February, this procedure gives Member States additional time to fulfil outstanding milestones, while receiving a partial payment linked to the milestones that have been satisfactorily fulfilled.
Lithuania’s recovery and resilience plan includes a wide range of investment and reform measures organised in seven thematic components. The plan will be supported by more than €2bn in grants, 13% of which (€289 million) was disbursed to Lithuania as pre-financing in August 2021.
Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Member States implementing the investments and reforms outlined in their respective recovery and resilience plans.
The Commission strongly encourages all Member states, including Lithuania, to proceed with the timely implementation of their respective recovery and resilience plans.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said:
“Lithuania has progressed well in the implementation of its recovery and resilience plan, for instance carrying out reforms on renewable energy and clean transport, accelerating the deployment of 5G and broadband infrastructure, and improving its schools with IT equipment. Now, we encourage Lithuania to speed up its work within the next six months on the two tax milestones that are not yet fulfilled. We encourage all Member States, including Lithuania, to proceed swiftly with the implementation of their recovery and resilience plans. The Commission stands by your side.”
In line with Article 24(6) of the RRF Regulation, the positive preliminary assessment and the payment suspension are two distinct procedures that follow different steps.
- As regards the positive preliminary assessment: the Commission has now sent its preliminary assessment of the milestones that Lithuania has fulfilled to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC’s opinion, to be delivered within a maximum of four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission’s final assessment. Following the EFC’s opinion on the positive preliminary assessment and Lithuania’s observations on the payment suspension, and taking both into account, the Commission will adopt the decision on the payment of the instalment, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. Following the adoption of the decision by the Commission, the payment to Lithuania can take place.
- As regards the payment suspension: the Commission has communicated to Lithuania the reasons why it considers that two milestones were not satisfactorily fulfilled. This communication starts an administrative procedure between the Commission and the Member State concerned. Lithuania now has a right to present to the Commission its observations within one month from the receipt of the communication. If, following Lithuania’s observations, the Commission were to confirm its assessment that the two outstanding milestones have not been satisfactorily fulfilled, it will determine the amount of the payment to be suspended by applying its methodology for payment suspension (outlined in Annex II of the 21 February Communication). From that moment, Lithuania will have a period of six months to satisfactorily fulfil the outstanding milestones. During this period of six months, the Commission will engage in active dialogue with the Lithuanian authorities. If and when the milestones will have been fulfilled, the Commission will lift the suspension of the payment and send its assessment to the EFC, following the above outlined procedure on the positive preliminary assessment.
The Commission will assess further payment requests by Lithuania based on the fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Council Implementing Decision, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms.
The amounts disbursed to the Member States are published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard, which shows progress of the implementation of the national recovery and resilience plans.
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