Monday

21st Jun 2021

11 EU states want to cut fossil-fuels from cross-border projects

  • It is estimated that EU gas expansion projects, already under construction or planning, create a risk of €87bn in stranded assets (Photo: © Trans Adriatic Pipeline)

A group of 11 member states, led by Denmark, wants the European Union to stop funding fossil fuels, under EU rules for cross-border energy projects - which are currently under revision.

Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have stressed that decarbonising the energy system now will play a key role in achieving EU's 2030 and 2050 climate goals.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

They said EU regulation must not facilitate investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, such as gas pipelines, but provide incentives to invest in the "energy system of the future", such as renewables or hydrogen.

In a position paper, distributed at the so-called 'coreper' meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday (5 May), the group of countries pointed out that the revision of the Trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN-E) regulation is a "litmus test" of the EU's commitment to achieving climate neutrality.

"The EU's climate goals require that policy initiatives on infrastructure provide the necessary framework to phase out fossil fuels while ensuring [the] security of supply and cost-efficiency," reads the position paper.

They add that upcoming infrastructure investments will have an economic and technical lifetime that goes to 2050 and beyond, and, therefore, EU rules should "avoid lock-in effects" and "sunk investments".

"Luxembourg is proud to be part of this declaration alongside Denmark and nine other member states, sharing the view that fossil fuels are not our future," tweeted Luxembourg energy minister, Claude Turmes.

In December, the European Commission proposed updating the TEN-E regulation, which determines which key energy cross border infrastructure projects in the EU are eligible for public funds through the European Investment Bank.

These projects are listed in the so-called "Projects of Common Interest" (PCI) every two years.

The current PCI list involves some 74 fossil-gas projects eligible to receive public funds - including the controversial EastMed pipeline, designed to link Israel and Cyprus to Greece. The European Commission will finalise the assessment of the projects later this month.

The Portuguese presidency of the EU council aims to reach a compromise on the updated TEN-E regulation in June. The issue will be further discussed by EU ambassadors on 26 May and by EU energy ministers in mid-June.

However, according to an EU diplomat, "there is still a division among member states on the inclusion of fossil projects in the revision of the TEN-E Regulation".

"Some still see room to extend existing natural gas PCIs, [what] would undermine the purpose of the revision and hurt the long term objectives of the Green Deal," the source said.

In the EU, close to a quarter of all electricity produced is generated from natural gas.

But it is estimated that EU gas expansion projects, which are already under construction or planning to be built, creates an €87bn in stranded assets risks.

"More and more member states understand both the economic and climate negative impacts of funding gas projects. It's important that those voices, that want to focus investments on no-regrets technologies, are the loudest," Tara Connolly, campaigner at Global Witness, told EUobserver.

EU defers decision on gas and nuclear as 'green' energy

The European Commission has laid out rules classifying industrial logging and the burning of trees and crops for energy as 'sustainable' investments. Decisions on whether to also list gas and nuclear energy as 'sustainable' investments will be made later.

New EU rules for energy-project funding to keep fossil gas

The European Commission will unveil a reform of EU criteria for picking energy infrastructure projects for financial support - with a particular focus on hydrogen. However, green groups have warned of the risks of not excluding fossil fuels.

Commission: Pioneering Nordics' energy mix 'example' to EU

The Nordic electricity market is an example of successful market integration plus climate action, as the share of sustainable energy keeps growing, the European Commission said. However, the decarbonisation of the transport sector remains a challenge.

EU opts to protect gas in energy treaty reform

The EU's proposal for reform of the controversial energy charter treaty pushes for a 10-year phase-out for protection of fossil-fuel investments. But gas gets a more lenient treatment.

Portugal under fire for backtracking on gas funding

A group of member states is seeking to prolong EU funding for cross-border natural gas projects - contrary to the European Commission's plans to remove all support for such infrastructure, according to a draft document seen by EUobserver.

EU ambassadors divided over prolonging gas funding

EU ambassadors have failed to reach an agreement over whether cross-border natural gas projects should continue to receive EU funding, under the TEN-E regulation, which is currently under revision.

Portugal under fire for backtracking on gas funding

A group of member states is seeking to prolong EU funding for cross-border natural gas projects - contrary to the European Commission's plans to remove all support for such infrastructure, according to a draft document seen by EUobserver.

EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050

The European Commission unveiled a plan to reduce pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems by 2050 - including reducing the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55 percent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines
  2. Next week is time for EU to finally lead on rule of law
  3. Austria blocking EU sanctions on Belarus banks
  4. Number of people forcibly displaced reaches historic high
  5. Three-quarters of EU citizens support vaccines, survey finds
  6. NGOs: Leaked EU biomass reform 'denial of science'
  7. US and Russia restart talks on cyber and nuclear war
  8. Europe needs to help sea rescues, say NGOs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us