Wednesday

30th Sep 2020

Green Deal

EU Commission: Five-fold aid increase for fossil-fuel regions

The European Commission's recovery package increases five-fold the resources of the Just Transition Fund, part of the Green Deal that aims to support fossil fuel-dependent regions to green their economies.

"This is our firm commitment to make every region and every European part of our green recovery," said on Thursday (28 May) the commission vice-president in charge of the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans.

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

On top of the initial €7.5bn Just Transition Fund, the commission proposed €32.5bn additional funding - made up of €2.5bn under the next long-term EU budget and €30bn from the new EU recovery fund - bringing the total to €40bn.

So far, 18 member states prepared strategies to cut down coal sector and other carbon-heavy industries, skill up workers and create new jobs to apply for a slice of the Just Transition Fund.

The commissioner for cohesion, Elisa Ferreira, ensured that the regions already identified as beneficiaries of the fund are still considered as such, although the extra funding could allow a certain enlargement to other territories.

"We need to make sure the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way," said Ferreira.

"We still have a problem [climate change] and we have a target that we want to reach, so let's concentrate the funds in the way that we minimise the cost of the [green] transition," she added.

The executive director of the think tank Institute for European Environmental Policy, Céline Charveriat, warned that "in addition to the usual controls for EU funding, it would be essential to ensure genuine social dialogue and meaningful involvement of local authorities".

Conditions attached

According to a previous proposal sent by the European Commission to member states in January, Poland and Germany would receive the largest funding slice of the Just Transition Fund - allocating the upper limit of the fund (€2bn) to Poland, despite Warsaw's refusal to commit to the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal.

Under the new reinforced Just Transition Fund, Polish climate Minister Michal Kurtyka claimed that the country's coal-dependent regions would receive an extra 6 billion euros.

However, Timmermans warned that the allocation of funds under the Just Transition Fund might be anchored to certain criteria, such as the commitment to the Green Deal targets.

"If a country does not commit to the EU's 2030 or 2050 targets, there should be consequences for the allocations as well," he said.

Meanwhile, environmental activists urged the commission to explicitly exclude any support to fossil fuels under this fund.

Timmermans has said that, in some areas, natural gas will still need to play a role to swift from coal to renewable energies.

Earlier this month, eight member states - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia - defended the role of natural gas in the transition towards climate neutrality.

The breakdown

This fund is only one of the dimensions of the proposed Just Transition Mechanism, which has also been reinforced by the recovery package and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to mobilise at least €150bn of investments over the period 2021 to 2027.

The commission upgraded the second pillar, InvestEU, to €15.3bn to mobilise private investment.

Likewise, the EU executive adopted on Wednesday (27 May) a public sector loan facility - made up of €1.5bn in grants from the EU budget and up to €10bn in loans from the EIB - to mobilise about €30bn to support regions most affected by the green transition.

"The proposed Just Transition Mechanism, which the EIB plans to support with its financing, will be key to ensuring that transforming our economies to carbon neutrality will happen with shared benefits and no disproportionate costs among regions," said EIB vice-president, Lilyana Pavlova.

Analysis

Will coronavirus torpedo the Green Deal?

2020 was supposed to be the crunch year in the fightback against climate change. However, the coronavirus pandemic has flattened Europe and beyond, which is likely to slow down international negotiations to fight climate change

Coronavirus

Study: Green post-virus stimulus is 'life or death'

Oxford University study says fiscal stimulus for green projects offer higher returns on government spending in the short and long term than traditional incentives on fossil fuels.

EU Commission's green recovery criticised as 'brown'

The European Commission's €1.85 trillion recovery plan from the coronavirus crisis did not convince environmental NGOs, such as Greenpeace, which believes that the proposal fails to offer a truly 'green recovery' and alternatives to the existing economic model.

Exclusive

Lobbyists backed election of key MEP on shipping emissions

An MEP from the European Parliament's largest political group, the centre-right EPP, is tabling pro-industry amendments on a bill to regulate carbon emissions on ships. The same MEP received campaign backing and support from industry lobbyists.

Von der Leyen promises Green Deal will be 'true recovery'

The European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wants to cut at least 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 - saying the Green Deal is a "cultural project" that goes beyond simply cutting emissions.

Opinion

Covid-19 derails Germany's EU presidency climate focus

Action on climate change was long-slated as the priority for Germany's six-month presidency of the European Union which starts tomorrow. But as Europe struggles to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, is Germany really going to maintain momentum on climate?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news
  2. Ban on Catalan leader condemned as 'disproportionate'
  3. EU defends Jourova over Hungary's resignation demand
  4. A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?
  5. The EU's new rule of law report - pushing at an open door?
  6. EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
  7. Reports: Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan
  8. German presidency tries to end EU's rule-of-law battle

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us