Sunday

20th Aug 2017

EU environment and science money moved to military fund

The European Commission is proposing to finance parts of its proposed defence fund with money originally allocated to energy, environmental and scientific programmes.

The EU's executive announced its plan to subsidise research and procurement of high-end defence technologies on Wednesday (7 June), but the origin of the money has gone largely under-reported.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Work on the Fusion for Energy project. EU commission promises 'none of the current projects will be delayed' (Photo: Fusion for Energy)

In 2019 and 2020, the commission wants to redirect €145 million that was originally allocated to the Connecting Europe Facility, a programme aimed at integrating European energy markets, increasing energy security, protecting the environment, and promoting interoperability of digital service infrastructures.

Of that sum, €40 million was supposed to go to projects that contribute to “sustainable development and protection of the environment”.

The redirection has irked some environmental groups.

“If it's correct that the European Commission is proposing to divert funds earmarked for environmental and climate protection to the defence industry - as appears to be the case - this is a new low,” said Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe.

“The security of humankind depends on having a liveable climate and healthy planet,” Stoczkiewicz told EUobserver in a written statement.

“More funds, not less, are urgently needed to bring about the transition to a clean, sustainable energy system. In this crucial period when the future of Europe is in the spotlight, the EU institutions needs to demonstrate they are focused on the health of people and planet, not on the interests of the defence industry.”

Greenpeace was also annoyed, although its climate and energy policy advisor Ansgar Kiene said he was not 100 percent sure what the programmes originally would have entailed.

“This would be a short sighted and dangerous move by the EU and European governments,” Kiene said in an emailed comment.

“Peaceful societies rely on a healthy environment. Without investing in environmental protection and action on climate change, the EU would in fact increase the threat to peace and stability,” he added.

The €145 million is a relatively small part of the total budget of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which is worth around €30 billion over the 2014-2020 period.

Shifting priorities

However, it is not the first time that Jean-Claude Juncker’s commission has redirected funds from the CEF, set up during his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso, to other priorities.

At the end of last year, some €33 million from the CEF were redirected to the Erasmus+ education programme. A free WiFi fund will also chip some millions away from CEF.

A separate, large-scale investment programme, called the Juncker fund, was funded by redirecting €6 billion from CEF, as well as another EU fund, the research & development programme Horizon 2020.

The EU defence fund will not take money from Horizon 2020, but scientific programmes will be affected, if member states and MEPs agree with the commission's proposal.

Satellites

The commission wants to take €80 million in 2019 and €50 million in 2020 from funds originally promised to Europe's satellite navigation programme Galileo.

Galileo, a €5-billion project by the EU and by the intergovernmental European Space Agency, is Europe's answer to GPS, and an attempt to no longer rely on that US-owned technology.

The EU's earth observation programme Copernicus will also hand in some of its funds, but this will amount to only €15 million of its total €4.3 billion.

Copernicus satellite data can be used to map environmental pressure, possible migration flows, or check the lands of recipients of EU farm subsidies.

Another notable programme to be hit by the EU defence fund is Europe’s contribution to international nuclear fusion research.

Scientists are trying to harness the power of the sun to provide limitless clean energy.

But the Barcelona-based Fusion for Energy (F4E) organisation will see its 2019 budget reduced by €30 million and its 2020 budget by €50 million for the sake of the defence fund.

Commission promises no delays

In a response, the European Commission defended the reshuffling of budgets.

“With the European Defence Fund, we are delivering on president Juncker's commitment to increase the security of our citizens, and responding to the mandate by the European Council of December 2016,” said EU commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet

The European Council is the regular summit of EU government leaders.

“The reallocation of funds has been carefully designed in a way that none of the current projects will be delayed and the future delivery of the various programmes will not be affected,” said Caudet.

She added that the ICT part of the Connecting Europe Facility (€25 million) “should be seen in the light of growing synergies between cyber-defence and civilian cybersecurity”.

The exercise highlights the constraints in which the European Commission works.

The European Union budget is fixed for several years, and if the commission wants to propose new policies that require funding, it often has to redirect money originally allocated elsewhere.

EU mulls joint defence spending

The EU budget should be used for military research and the bloc could become a defence alliance akin to Nato, the European Commission is poised to say.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

Europeans more optimistic about EU since Brexit vote

Perceptions of the EU have increased significantly in France, and Europeans generally feel more optimistic about the future of the bloc since last autumn - despite Brexit and a surge in populism.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  3. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  6. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  7. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  9. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  10. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy