Agreement reached on the problem of beds in university student accommodation, which should release - albeit months later - the third installment of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The agreement that the Minister of European Affairs Raffaele Fitto will present today to the Pnrr control room is divided into several stages to solve a fundamental problem: according to the European Commission, Italy had failed to achieve the quantitative objective set to add 7,500 beds in student accommodation by the end of 2022. The government has always said it is convinced it has satisfied this request but, according to Brussels, part of the beds were pre-existing and should not have been counted in the funding.
The compromise on the student residences
On this issue the parties have been stuck, literally, for months. Now comes a compromise similar to the one reached on nursery schools, where the dispute from Brussels regarding the fourth installment (June 2023 objectives) had been similar: part of the funds risked going to renew existing nursery places. The compromise is as follows: the quantitative goal of creating 7,500 student places by the end of 2022 will disappear; in its place there will be a qualitative objective, relating to having launched all the necessary procedures (tenders, authorisations) for Italy to create an overall number of 60,000 more university beds by the end of 2026. Furthermore, this qualitative objective will no longer be linked to the deadlines of the third installment (December 2022), but to those of the fourth installment (June 2023).
When will the resources arrive?
In this way, the payment of the third installment will be made without taking into account the sums linked to the creation of student residences. However, that portion of the funds (between 300 and 500 million euros, depending on the interpretation) will be integrated into the objectives of the fourth installment and paid with it, provided that the conditions are met. Therefore, overall, the sums paid to Italy for the implementation of the Pnrr would be unchanged. There would also be the hypothesis of simultaneously paying the third and fourth installments to the government in the second half of this year, for a total of 35 billion euros (on paper today the third installment is worth 19 billion and the fourth is worth 16) or, in an alternative that seems much more probable, an attempt will be made to disburse the third installment as soon as possible and also the fourth within the year, for a total of 35 billion which therefore would not change overall.
The note from Palazzo Chigi
After in-depth discussions with the European Commission, the Italian government presented a request for modification regarding the reform of student accommodation at the meeting of the Control Room on the Pnrr, in order to: insert a new milestone in the fourth installment; clarify the conditions and objectives of the measure; correct some material errors, explains Palazzo Chigi in a note. In agreement with the Commission, the proposed changes will have no impact on the total amount of payments that Italy will receive in 2023 with the third and fourth installments (for a total amount of €35 billion). The third installment envisaged 54 objectives for 18.5 billion euros, while the fourth 28 objectives for 16.5 billion. The total of 35 billion euros envisaged by the Pnrr in 2023 will be collected in full, the note continues. With today's decision by the Control Room, the government will formally present the proposal to amend the fourth installment to the European Commission. The proposal will be examined by the Commission itself and then by the Council of the European Union together with the other 10 modification proposals of the fourth installment already examined by the Steering Committee and presented to the Commission on 11 July. The EU Commission will evaluate the proposed amendment in the context of the regulatory framework relating to revisions of recovery and resilience plans. We do not expect changes to the total amount of payments Italy is expected to receive in 2023, taking into account the third and fourth payment requests, explained a spokesman for the EU Commission.