Research and innovation in the national recovery and resilience plans

Briefing 24-06-2024

The European Union's research and innovation (R&I) policy has become central in the attempt to safeguard the EU's technological sovereignty, ensure prosperity, and advance social, economic and environmental sustainability. Various challenges persist nevertheless, from ageing populations and health hazards to (economic) security and the climate crisis. In addition, underinvestment in R&I is a shared concern across Member States, although to varying degrees. To reach the EU's spending target for R&I of 3 % of the EU's annual gross domestic product, the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery instrument and its main spending tool, the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), could play a vital role in providing additional funding to Member States. To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis and benefit from these resources (channelled partly into R&I ecosystems), countries have drawn up individual national recovery and resilience plans (NRRPs). As a funding condition, Member States needed to address at least a significant subset of the European Semester's country-specific recommendations and foster the green and digital transitions, by achieving the milestones and targets linked to the measures agreed in their NRRPs. The RRF is financing over €47 billion worth of R&I measures in the NRRPs, but the focus on R&I investment differs across the plans. In this briefing, six case studies (either investment or reform measures) in R&I from individual recovery plans have been analysed. These measures range from investing in sustainable agriculture (Portugal), to reforming and integrating research, development and innovation organisations in the European Research Area (Romania). Each of the assessed case studies has been linked to one of the six R&I policy guidelines developed by the European Commission. The briefing also touches on other financing opportunities for R&I under the traditional multiannual financial framework. Experts point out that NGEU might contribute to closing the innovation and underinvestment gap between Member States and the EU's 3 % target. The European Parliament supports an ambitious EU-wide R&I policy, and continues to ensure transparency and democratic scrutiny in the implementation of the NGEU recovery instrument.