Saturday

20th Apr 2019

MEPs threaten veto on fossil fuel projects

  • The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline is one of the projects given preferential treatment under an EU programme called the Projects of Common Interest (Photo: © Trans Adriatic Pipeline)

MEPs have started a procedure to reject a list of energy infrastructure projects which would give fast-track status and potential access to EU funding - because too many projects relate to natural gas, a fossil fuel.

"No more support should be given today to fossil fuel projects," said campaigner Antoine Simon of the Friends of the Earth Europe group, which welcomed the move.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • While natural gas emits less CO2 per energy unit than coal, it is still a fossil fuel that causes emissions trapping heat in the atmosphere (Photo: Johannes Jansson/norden.org)

If the list does receive a veto from the European Parliament, the European Commission will have to come up with a replacement, which in turn could delay key energy projects across to the bloc.

The list in question is the so-called 'Projects of Common Interest' (PCI) list, which was adopted in 2013, amended in 2015, and now again is proposed to change.

EU governments are required to give projects that receive the PCI status preferential treatment, for example when processing a permit request.

One such project that has been put on the PCI list - and remained on there since - is the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, which aims at transporting gas from Greece via Albania to Italy.

"This means that it is recognised by the EU commission and by EU member states as enhancing energy supply and security in Europe and supporting diversification of supplies," said Lisa Givert, TAP head of communications.

Listed projects also are eligible for EU funding. On Thursday (25 January) the commission announced that member states approved investing some €873m in energy infrastructure.

However, some MEPs and environmental groups believe that the natural gas sector is benefiting too much from PCI status.

While natural gas emits less CO2 than dirtier energy sources like coal or oil, it is still a fossil fuel.

According to Friends of the Earth's Simon, continuing to invest in gas infrastructure is incompatible with promises made in Paris in 2015.

The Paris climate agreement contained a promise to limit the level of global warming since pre-industrial times to 2C, and if possible to 1.5C – which is only 0.4C more than the current temperature rise.

"It is the first post-Paris list of key energy infrastructure that Europe is supposed to have to face the energy challenges of the future, nonetheless it continues to include an extravagant number of gas projects," said Simon.

He also questioned the demand for gas compared to the capabilities envisaged in the approved projects.

Climate impact however is not the only factor at play here, so is geopolitics.

Several of the gas projects are aimed at strengthening the internal EU energy market and making sure EU countries are not mainly dependent on a single source of energy.

On Thursday (25 January), a group of 13 MEPs from five different political groups sent an email to the secretariat of the parliament's industry committee, formally raising an objection to the proposed PCI list.

The email was seen by this website, and its content was confirmed by three parliament sources.

The parliament's industry committee now has to put a vote on the agenda.

The 13 MEPs who signed the objection are mostly members of left-wing and left-leaning groups, and are from France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain.

Even if they manage to get a majority of the industry committee on their side, the real challenge will be to have the plenary reject the list.

Because the list is established in a so-called delegated act, it can only be rejected by a real majority in plenary – 376 MEPs or more regardless of the total number of voting MEPs.

MEPs cannot amend the list, but can only adopt it or veto it - a fact for which it has itself to blame. A majority of MEPs approved the regulation laying down the procedure in 2013.

Vetoing the PCI list would also mean vetoing projects that give fast-track status to electricity grid projects that link up offshore windparks.

EU to pump €101m into Cyprus gas network

The EU also agreed on financing a study into the Southern Gas Corridor, to send a signal that the EU is still invested in the project - but leaves questions over renewable energy sources.

EU still giving gas projects 'fast-track' status

The European Commission published on Friday a list of projects of common interest, which receive preferential treatment. Environmental lobbyists accuse the Commission of trying to fool the public with number games.

Investigation

EU's claim Energy Union now 'a reality' not based on facts

The Juncker commission this week awarded it self top marks on the Energy Union, declaring it "completed". But a detailed analysis reveals the commission quietly stopped reporting on key indicators that would have shown the actual level of progress.

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us