Tuesday

22nd Jun 2021

Stronger green conditions urged for EU recovery money

  • Only about 15 percent of 2008 financial stimulus money injected into the global economy focused on green projects (Photo: Stay Grounded)

Top economists and civil society organisations on Tuesday (16 June) called on the European Commission and member states to set more ambitious climate actions and put green conditions on the EU recovery plan.

The commission unveiled last month a €1.1 trillion revised long-term budget for 2021-2027 and a €750bn coronavirus recovery package.

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

However, tensions have deepened as member states now discuss the next steps for the EU recovery and plunge into this week's budget negotiations.

"The good news is that the green dimension of this massive recovery plan is there and it clearly remains a backbone. This good news must now be confirmed in the decision-making process," Pascal Lamy, former EU commissioner for trade, told reporters on Tuesday.

"But there are still problems about how this money will be allocated [in sectors and countries] and it is not clear if there will be 'green conditionality'," Lammy said.

During the financial crisis in 2008, only about 15 percent of stimulus money injected into the global economy focused on green projects.

So far, the commission decided that all public investment of the €750bn recovery fund must respect the green oath to "do no harm" - which would exclude any subsidies to activities such as fossil-fuels industries, nuclear energy or incineration of waste.

However, there are new calls to strengthen these conditions in the EU budget - especially after nearly two trillion euros of state aid already used to support all type of industries across the bloc were allocated unconditionally.

According to professor of economics at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, Natalia Fabra, "it does not make any sense to push in the green direction here and in brown direction there".

Likewise, Fabra stressed that green conditionality could be powerful leverage to shape national legislation targeting climate action, such as the circular economy and renewables energies - setting up standards for public expenditure.

'Must be spent'

Meanwhile, the co-founder of the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development and former minister of labour Enrico Giovannini pointed out that "the money must be spent".

"It is not so much about the ability of states to make promises, but about the ability of states to make investments and the right ones," said Giovannini.

The commission has been using conditionality requirements for many years, especially for cohesion policy.

However, the director of the Brussels-based NGO Climate Action Network, Wendel Trio, said on Tuesday that "the commission should be much more strict to control whether the money spent is aligned with the EU Green Deal".

"While countries are looking for a vaccine for Covid-19, there is no vaccine for climate change," he said, calling on the commission to scale up its climate ambition.

Additionally, the director of WWF Europe Ester Asin said that "what's on the table will allow polluters to carry on as usual, funded by public money. This is unacceptable."

Parliament vs Commission?

Later this year, it is expected that the EU's current 2030 emission-reduction target will increase from 40 percent to between 50 percent and 55 percent.

However, civil society organisations claimed that this approach is not aligned with the EU's commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement - namely limiting global temperature raises to below 1.5 degrees.

The European Parliament lead negotiator for the climate law MEP Jytte Guteland recently backed increasing to 65 percent emission reduction target for 2030.

"While there is a strong discussion in the parliament, it is sad to see that the commission is completely opposing it," Trio said, adding that Europe should increase its emission reduction target by the end of the year - to influence other global players.

"If Europe does not move, the rest of the world does not move. If Europe moves, then this is a great incentive for the rest of the world," he said.

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.

Draft EU 'green recovery' plan amid clash over natural gas

The European Commission's recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic gives priority to building renovation, renewables and hydrogen. However, eight member states have insisted that gas plays a crucial role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

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.

EU 'failing' on climate and gender equality

A new report on the EU's progress on the United Nations' sustainable development goals reveals the bloc is struggling on both climate change and gender inequality.

East vs West split in EU on higher Green Deal target

Eight EU countries on Tuesday called on the European Commission to strengthen the Green Deal, while central and eastern Europe remain cautious - citing different starting positions and deepen inequalities.

News in Brief

  1. UEFA: No rainbow 'pride' stadium illumination at Hungary match
  2. Italian PM calls to move Euro 2020 final from London to Rome
  3. UN warns of 'cascade of human rights setbacks'
  4. Minister urges Belgians to ignore speculation over dead soldier
  5. Swedish government toppled in no-confidence vote
  6. EU takes aim at British TV and film perks
  7. Iran nuclear deal: President-elect Raisi issues warning over talks
  8. EU agriculture spending 'failed' to reduce farming emissions

Livestream

Live: Join the Nordic climate debate 'Choosing Green'

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has stalled climate negotiations, work has not stopped. The 'Choosing Green' debate will address some of the most important and most complex key areas relating to the global green transition. Live on EUobserver from 10:00 (CET).

Timmermans 'disappointed' with ongoing CAP reform

For European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, the Common Agricultural Policy has to answer to "higher expectations" on climate action, protection of biodiversity and environmental sustainability, while ensuring a fair income for all farmers.

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. Latest EU sanctions to bite Belarus dictator's income
  2. Libyan detention centres must end, EU says
  3. Poland and Hungary sanctions procedure back after pandemic
  4. Sánchez risks 'betrayal' call with pardon for jailed Catalans
  5. EU a 'Wild West' for China's unsafe toys, gadgets and clothes
  6. 'You'll never walk alone' - our message to women
  7. Too soon to lift EU sanctions on Burundi, NGOs warn
  8. EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us