20 January 2021

EU Recovery and Resilience Facility – a possibility for philanthropy to step up its game around national recovery and resilience plans

By Hanna Hanses

The Covid-19 pandemic has already highlighted existing inequalities and will continue to impact our societies’ economic and social structures. The European Union’s recovery fund NextGenerationEU is therefore very timely. Its main component, the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), provides direct support to Member States. Its main purpose is to tackle the effects of the crisis and increase our societies’ resilience to future shocks through investments and reforms. Member States are drafting national recovery and resilience plans (NRRP) by 30 April 2021.

Philanthropy has three entry points into the NRRP. First, as part of civil society, philanthropic organisations should be consulted when Member States draw up their plans. Secondly, those foundations, non-profit organisations and social economy actors in need must be considered to also benefit from the NRRP as partners on the ground who can advance the reforms as set out in the national plans. Thirdly, philanthropic organisations and public benefit organisations can also play an important role in implementing and collaborating around the plans and suggest forms of public-private partnerships. The European Commission confirmed to Philanthropy Advocacy that Member States can involve philanthropic organisations in all those three different levels. It is for the sector to pro-actively reach out to their governments to elaborate these entry points.

CREATION OF NRRP – Consultation of civil society including the foundation sector

Member States are invited to submit national recovery and resilience plans by 30 April 2021. These plans will need to fulfil certain legal requirements to be approved by the European Commission. As a guiding principle, they will need to contribute to the EU’s six priority areas as well as adhere to Country Specific Recommendations. Importantly, Member States are required to consult with civil society and other stakeholders.

In the past few months, Philanthropy Advocacy has joined forces with civil society platforms to explore the extent to which authorities are consulting civil society (including the foundation sector) when drafting the national recovery and resilience plans. The result was published in a report which highlighted a lack of engagement at the national and regional levels. The message was clear: Member States need to be encouraged more thoroughly to engage civil society in constructive dialogue. The regulation now foresees that Member States receive 20% of the budgets provisionally, upon which they will need to demonstrate performed consultations.

We call on our membership and the wider civil society to reach out to their governments. For more guidance, we are happy to refer to the Guidance note that we co-developed as being part of a wider civil society coalition on the matter.

IMPLEMENTATION OF NRRP – Philanthropic organisations as partners

Beyond being involved in the dialogue as key actors on the ground, philanthropy has a unique role to play as partners. Once the plans are adopted at national level and approved at European level, the money will flow to governments, which will implement the plans. The regulation leaves open if and how governments will work with implementing partners to collaborate in carrying out the plans. Public benefit organisations and social economy actors can contribute to achieving the necessary reforms as set out in the NRRP. Therefore, they should be considered to also benefit from the plans, besides SME’s and other economic actors. Moreover, philanthropic organisations have a unique role to play and are invited to suggest forms of public-private partnerships. This is an opportunity for philanthropic organisations to step forward as key partners for a recovery and resilience-building that is fit to the needs of our societies.