Thursday

19th Oct 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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Court battles intensifies on MEPs' 'private' expenses

The EU parliament said the public does not have a right to monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

Eurogroup closes Schaeuble era

Eurozone finance ministers bade farewell to their longest-serving and most influential colleague, while preparing to also replace its chairman at the end of the year.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs and states agree on CO2 exemption for flights
  2. Spanish government to decide Saturday on Catalonia measures
  3. EU court confirms freezing of Yanukovych funds
  4. UK PM appeals to EU citizens
  5. Catalan leader sends independence ultimatum
  6. Madrid eyes early elections as solution to Catalan crisis
  7. Merkel starts coalition talks to form government by December
  8. Iceland confirms long-standing EU opposition, poll shows

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  2. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  3. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  4. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  8. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  9. CESIJoin CESI@Noon on October 18 and Debate On: 'European Defence Union: What Next?'
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews