REACT-EU initiative

The REACT-EU initiative assumes a significant role - pivot of the COVID-19 emergency response strategy with cohesion policies, assigning additional resources from the UE budgett 2021-2027 to the cohesion policy 2014-2020 for the years 2021 and 2022, in order to promote the overcoming of the negative effects of health crisis on the economy, employment and social systems in the regions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time supporting the green and digital and resilient transition of the economy and society. In particular, REACT EU overall budget at EU level is 50,6 billion euros at current prices (47,5 billion at 2018 prices level), assigned in two installments (2021 and 2022) to the Member States, on the basis of the allocation method provided for by EU Regulation no. 2020/2221.

According to the data progressively defined by the European Commission, to Italy was assigned a total of € 14.4 billion euro at current prices, out of which the installment relating to the year 2021 amounts to € 11.4 billion, while the installment relating to 2022 is equal to € 3.1 billion. The European resources are integrated with national co-financing of 186.4 million euro provided exclusively for the Technical Assistance (TA).

Initially, the total amount forecasted for Italy was prudently estimated at 13.5 billion euros and, on the basis of this amount, in April 2021, on the basis of this estimate, Italy sent to the European Commission a first document on Programming of the allocations of the REACT-EU funds, aimed at defining the lines of intervention for the 2021 annuality and the general framework. In March 2022, a second document relating to the "Programming of REACT-EU resources: intervention lines for resources relating to the year 2022 and overall framework" was presented to the EC, which refers to the total value of the resources actually allocated equal to 14,4 billion euros..

Italian strategy for planning the resources of REACT-EU is based on four pillars:

  • strengthening the contribution of cohesion policy to overcome the pandemic crisis results, by the means of financing the interventions for the health, social and employment emergency coherently with the reprogramming agreements of the 2014-2020 structural funds, defined in summer 2020 as part of the CRII and CRII+ initiatives, which made it possible to reprogramme approximately 12 billion euros in a short time (Table 1);
  • strengthening the contribution of cohesion policy to the pursuit of the objectives of territorial and socio-economic balance and structural strengthening of the South;
  • bridging between the 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 programming periods of cohesion policy by the means of immediate funding of the initiatives enabling the transition and green, digital and resilient recovery of the economy;
  • concentrate resources on a limited number of interventions of a horizontal nature, which are characterized by effectiveness, strategic purpose, simplicity and rapidity in implementation. 

The REACT-EU funds integrate some of the European programmes - managed by the State Administrations - already financed by the ERDF and the ESF, in addition to the FEAD Programme within which new dedicated axes were planned. In particular, these are: PON Governance and administrative capacity, PON Enterprises and competitiveness, PON Metropolitan cities, PON for schools, PON for Research, PON for Active Political Systems and Employment (SPAO), PON for Infrastructures and Networks, PON Inclusion and FEAD Programme. The territorial distribution of the REACT-EU resources converged in these programmes has been defined at national level even though it is not directly indicated in the operational programmes.

In April 2022, the European Commission gave the Member States the possibility to allocate a portion of the REACT-EU resources for the current year to the refugee emergency caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as part of the initiative called
CARE (Cohesion's Action for Refugees in Europe).