Questions and Answers on Austria's disbursement request under NextGenerationEU

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Friday, March 10 2023.

How did the Commission assess Austria's first payment request?

On 22 December 2022, Austria submitted to the Commission a request for the disbursement of €700 million under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The request was based on the achievement of the 44 milestones and targets for the first instalment, as outlined in the Council Implementing Decision approving the plan.

They cover transformative reforms such as a Renewable Expansion Law, which will accelerate the roll-out of renewable energy production, as well as a “Climate-Ticket” reform making public transport more attractive. Several targets also concern major investments. This includes investment in energy efficiency supporting Austrian families in replacing old gas and oil boilers in their houses with renewable heating systems, as well as in delivering digital devices to pupils in schools.

With their request, the Austrian authorities provided detailed and comprehensive evidence demonstrating the fulfilment of the 44 milestones and targets. The Commission has thoroughly assessed this information before endorsing the positive preliminary assessment of the payment request.

What are the next steps?

The Commission has now sent the positive preliminary assessment of Austria's fulfilment of the milestones and targets required for this payment to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC's opinion, to be delivered within maximum four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission's assessment. The Commission will adopt the decision on the disbursement of the financial contribution, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. Following the adoption of this decision by the Commission, the disbursement to Austria would take place. The amounts disbursed to the Member States will be published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard. The Commission has also shared its positive preliminary assessment with the European Parliament.

How do the milestones and targets achieved by Austria so far effectively support the green transition?

The green transition is supported by several key reforms, such as the renewables-expansion law that establishes new framework conditions for supporting electricity generation from renewable sources and the first steps of the eco-social tax reform introducing national carbon pricing. Austria introduced the 1-2-3 climate ticket that incentivises the use of public transport and a new mobility masterplan to reduce CO₂ emissions in the transport sector. Austria also achieved the target of implementing 6,360 projects supporting the replacement of fossil fuel heaters in residential buildings by renewable technologies. Austria successfully implemented several important milestones related to the construction of new railways, procurement of zero-emission utility vehicles, investment in the decarbonisation of industry and ecological transformation of enterprises. National projects supporting the development of hydrogen infrastructure were selected. Finally, Austria amended its Waste Management Act to increase the collection rates for beverage packaging.

How do the milestones and targets achieved by Austria so far effectively contribute to the digital transition?

The first payment request covers several milestones and targets to the digital transition. As part of the investment in citizen-centred e-government services, Austria established the Digitalisation Fund to finance digitalisation projects at the federal government level. Authorities have also amended the Business Service Portal Act to implement the Once Only principle, and thus reduce bureaucracy for businesses and citizens. Authorities successfully initiated the implementation of projects supporting quantum research and infrastructure. They also launched a new investment scheme supporting the digitalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises. National projects supporting the development of innovative microelectronics and connectivity technologies were selected. Finally, Austria also achieved the target of delivering digital devices for all pupils in 5th and 6th grade at lower secondary level.

How do the milestones and targets achieved by Austria so far contribute to improving Austria's economic and social situation, and its resilience?

Austria achieved several milestones covering the areas of skills and education, and social and labour market policy. For instance, Austria developed a one-stop shop to provide targeted support for the long-term unemployed, facilitating their return to the labour market. The Unemployment Insurance Act was amended, in order to provide for an education bonus scheme, improving incentives for the unemployed to participate in training. Austria launched a network of community nurses and adopted a new funding framework for new primary healthcare units that will improve access to health services, in particular in rural areas, and thus strengthen the sustainability and resilience of its healthcare system. To improve financial literacy among the population, Austria developed the National Financial Literacy Strategy.

Does the achievement of these first milestones and targets contribute to an effective implementation of the Plan?

Austria's first payment covers the first 44 milestones and targets, which represent more than one quarter out of a total of 171 milestones and targets in the Austrian plan. Their fulfilment constitutes significant progress in the implementation of Austria's recovery and resilience plan, and of its broader reform agenda, as illustrated for instance by the eco-social tax reform, the new supporting framework for accelerating the deployment of renewable energy, as well as re-skilling and upskilling measures increasing the chances of the long-term unemployed to re-enter the workforce.

The achievement of the milestones and targets also demonstrates progress in implementing investments included in Austria's plan, such as investments in energy efficiency of buildings, railway infrastructure, ecological and digital transformation of enterprises, and of investment that strengthens the resilience of Austria's healthcare system.

For More Information

Preliminary assessment

Press release on the positive preliminary assessment of Austria's request for €700 million disbursement

Press release on €450 million in pre-financing to Austria

Question and Answers on Austria's recovery and resilience plan

Factsheet on Austria's recovery and resilience plan

Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision

Staff-working document

Recovery and Resilience Facility

Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard

Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation

Question and Answers on the Recovery and Resilience Facility

EU as a borrower website