Thursday

19th Jul 2018

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.

... our 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.

Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is 'political'

Germany has for the first time acknowledged concerns on the "political" and "strategic" aspects of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Stakeholder

Nordic electricity market presented to global energy ministers

Energy ministers from the world's biggest economies, including the G20, were shown how co-operation works in the Nordic electricity market. This co-operation is unique by international standards and is held up as a model globally.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us