Saturday

13th Apr 2024

EU Commission readies to back €13bn gas mega-projects

  • Environmental lawyers believe that subsidising more cross-border gas projects is not aligned with the EU's legal obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement and the treaties (Photo: Nord Stream)
Listen to article

The European Commission on Thursday (11 November) is expected to present to MEPs in the energy committee a new draft list of cross-border energy infrastructure projects, containing 30 major gas developments worth some €13bn.

The so-called Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list is updated every two years, and rules governing the selection criteria of these projects are currently being reformed. Under the PCI list, all selected projects are eligible for public funds and fast-tracked permits.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

The draft list, seen by EUobserver, includes the controversial EastMed pipeline between Israel and Greece, the Baltic Pipe carrying Norwegian gas to Denmark and Poland, and the Cyprus2EU liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

However, it still needs to be adopted by the commission, which is expected to come forward with an official proposal before the end of the year. Once adopted, EU countries and MEPs have two months to accept it or reject it.

Many of the projects included under the fifth PCI list were also part of the previous list, which was slammed by the EU Ombudsman because climate risks were "not sufficiently taken into account".

Following the recommendations of the ombudsman, the commission now claims that it has improved the PCI assessment methodology for gas projects included in the current list.

However, according to green groups and MEPs, these criteria fall short of measuring the potential impact of other environmental aspects such as leakages of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Frida Kieninger, a campaigner from NGO Food & Water Watch, said that the new sustainability assessment is just "a fig leaf for a highly-biased process full of fossil gas lobby vested interests".

She also argued that the process is not transparent, since enforcement agencies such as the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) cannot verify how and in which way the sustainability criteria has been applied to the current list.

The Greens, for their part, have called for the rejection of the current list – while putting forward a proposal to replace all gas projects with alternative green developments.

"The commission's proposal to make gas projects eligible for funding is a dangerous double standard," said Green MEP Bas Eickhout, who called on the commission and member states to show global leadership and end fossil-fuel finance.

Eickhout has been also vocal against the possibility of labelling gas as 'green' investment – which has been the subject of an intense debate at EU level.

'Stranded assets'

The fifth PCI list has been leaked amid ongoing negotiations at the UN climate summit in Glasgow, where the EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen said last week that it would "spare no effort to become the first climate-neutral continent".

However, environmental lawyers believe that a PCI which includes gas projects is not aligned with the EU's legal obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement and the treaties.

"These new gas projects are stranded assets in the making and supporting them is a waste of taxpayers' money to be borne by citizens," said Guillermo Ramo, lawyer at ClientEarth.

Gas prices in Europe have surged to record levels during the past few, triggering skyrocketing electricity prices in many EU countries.

Earlier this year, over 100 civil society organisations called on the commission to remove all gas projects from the PCI list.

London-based watchdog Global Witness has estimated that six of these projects could emit more than the annual emission of Denmark and Austria combined - over 87 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Under the new rules still under negotiation, the commission has proposed to exclude all gas and oil project from that the next PCI list – although MEPs and EU countries have created some loopholes.

Opinion

EU interconnector: Cyprus 'energy isolation' or Israeli gas?

The EU is not only turning a blind eye to Israel's belligerent and illegal gas extractions but outrightly colluding by financing and otherwise supporting costly infrastructure projects. The ongoing gas crisis affecting the EU is no excuse for this behaviour

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.

Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU

European environmental groups have urged the EU Commission to stand firm on implementing the bloc's landmark anti-deforestation legislation — despite a backlash from governments in South America, Africa and some EU ministers.

Opinion

This 'deregulation' lobbying now threatens EU economy

Next week's EU summit (17-18 April) will discuss the strategic agenda for the next five years. The current "competitiveness agenda" is to a large extent driven by a big lobbying campaign — so far, not well covered by the media.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us