The article presents a legal analysis of the EU’s COVID-19 recovery plan, adopted to deal with the economic consequences of the COVID pandemic. The plan was proposed by the European Commission in May 2020 under the name “Next Generation EU”, was adopted in the final weeks of 2020 and will be implemented from mid-2021. After briefly presenting the sequence of events leading to the adoption of the recovery plan and the political context at the outset of the pandemic, the article examines the main legal issues raised by the NGEU programme. The adoption of the recovery plan was not only a politically bold move but also a case of creative legal engineering. Its architects had to deal with a number of central issues of EU institutional law, including the principle of conferral and the choice of the appropriate legal basis, the constraints imposed by the EU’s public finance system, the respect of the institutional balance, and the shaping of a governance mechanism for the plan’s implementation.