As part of the post-COVID-19 recovery measures at the EU level, the European Commission launched the Next Generation EU fund, the largest stimulus package ever implemented in the EU, and whose core element is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). In order to receive RRF support, all EU Member States must submit their National Resiliency and Recovery Plans (NRRPs), setting out their programmes of reforms and investments to be undertaken until 2026. RRF funding is based on results (financing not linked to costs, FNLC), meaning that Member States must accomplish certain milestones (for qualitative achievements) and targets (for quantitative achievements) set out in their NRRPs to be reimbursed for the results achieved.
The aim of this study is to identify and map NRRP measures that can be used as an example for FNLC schemes to be potentially included in future European Social Fund+ (ESF+) programmes, covering the areas of employment, education and skills, social inclusion, material deprivation, and health. To achieve these objectives, the project sets out six different tasks:
- Analysing all NRRPs to select of a number of them for in-depth review, based on the level of detail about relevant measures to the ESF+ included therein (Task 1).
- Mapping of the methodologies included in the selected NRRPs regarding the milestones and target setting, the conditions for reimbursement and the related amounts, for measures in the areas of relevance for the ESF+ (Task 2).
- When required, liaising with the competent national authorities to gather additional information on the set-up of these measures (Task 3).
- Assessment of how many Member States included similar types of measures in their NRRPs, along with an identification of recurring patterns regarding the milestones and targets and the related conditions for reimbursement (Task 4).
- The identification of the conditions for a successful use of the mapped NRRP measures as FNLC schemes for future ESF+ programmes (Task 5).
- Presentations of the main findings of the interim and final report to the Community on Results-Based Management and to the ESF+ Technical Working Group (Task 6).
The main methods the project team will use in this study will be qualitative:
- Tasks 1, 2 and 4 will employ a mix of desk research, literature review, and qualitative content analysis and coding, aimed at categorising and mapping the NRRP measures;
- Task 3 will rely on an interview programme with national authorities in charge of preparing and implementing the NRRPs;
- Task 5 will make use of focus groups with ESF+ managing authorities, aimed at understanding the extent to which verification systems included in NRRPs would suffice when it comes to ESF+ requirements, and how they could be adapted to assess if milestones and targets were also achieved under the ESF+.