A pan-European investigation into the largest EU stimulus package in history

In 2021, the European Union entered uncharted territory.

To help the continent ‘emerge stronger and more resilient’ from the worst pandemic in 100 years, the European Commission began providing member states with grants and low-interest loans. The total amount of allocated money is unprecedented: €723.8 billion.

To get access to the fund, EU member states have had to submit ambitious plans. But some of these plans contain controversial public reforms. And most member states’ national parliaments have not been involved in drafting them.

Also unprecedented: the almost €725 billion is financed by issuing public debt.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) called this strategy ‘a major shift in EU finances’ and warned that there is an ‘obvious need for effective checks on how EU money is spent, and on whether the intended results are achieved’.

But a senior ECA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said their organisation did not have enough staff and resources to scrutinise how money from the fund is spent.

How were these plans drafted? How will the money be spent? And what does this all mean for our democracies?

To get answers to these questions, Follow the Money started the Recovery Files. In the coming months, journalists and media from 12 member states will join forces. Together, we will do a thorough investigation of the EU recovery effort.

 

Meet the team

The Recovery Files is made possible by research from the following journalists:

  • Ante Pavić, Ostro (Croatia)
  • Attila Biro, RISE (Romania)
  • Ben Weiser, ZackZack (Austria)
  • Hans-Martin Tillack, Die Welt (Germany)
  • Jarno Liski, Iltalehti (Finland)
  • Petr Vodsedalek, Denik (Czechia)
  • Matej Zwitter, Ostro (Slovenia)
  • Gabi Horn, Atlatszo (Hungary)
  • Giulio Rubino, IRPImedia (Italy)
  • Marie Charrel, Le Monde (France)
  • Marcos Garcia Rey, Freelance journalist, member ICIJ (Spain)
  • Kamiel Vermeylen, Knack (Belgium)
  • Peter Teffer, Follow the Money (The Netherlands)
  • Piotr Maciej Kaczynski, Onet.pl (Poland)
  • Staffan Dahllöf, DEO (Denmark/Sweden)
  • Remy Koens, Follow the Money (The Netherlands)
  • Lise Witteman, Follow the Money (The Netherlands)