Brussels – The European Commission’s pandemic recovery package is a welcomed boost for cohesion and the energy transformation in countries that need it most, but progress will only come with clear guidance for how this money is spent.
(Photo of the Rovinari power plant on the foreground: Țetcu Mircea Rareș)
The Commission’s proposal includes an additional EUR 50 billion for Cohesion policy spending and an increase from EUR 7.5 to EUR 40 billion for the Just Transition Fund aimed at transforming regions dependent on fossil-heavy industries.
However the proposal lacks clear guidance on the possible conditions attached to these funds, especially with regards to spending for projects that address the threat of climate change and safeguard the environment.
Raphael Hanoteaux, EU funds policy officer for CEE Bankwatch Network, said, “The growing consensus is that a green stimulus is the surest way to recover from the pandemic and simultaneously address the threat of climate change, so today’s proposal from the Commission is a step in the right direction.
But the flexibility in Cohesion spending cannot allow one cent to be spent on fossil fuels. Setting aside at least half of the EU budget for climate projects is the only responsible move for ensuring investments of today benefit future generations.”
Izabela Zygmunt, coordinator for Polish Green Network, said, “Cohesion is at a crossroads: where once it meant building infrastructure in countries that lagged behind, now the EU has embarked on an ambitious project to transform its economy to be climate neutral by mid-century. All countries must be a part of this journey and none should emerge saddled with emissions-intensive industries and fossil fuels assets, or economies that lag behind the rest of Europe in terms of climate-friendly innovation.
For a country like Poland, this means taking responsibility for the future direction of development and not spending money on projects that will slow progress towards climate neutrality. Doing so will undermine our competitiveness and miss an opportunity to catch up with Europe, whilst creating jobs, spurring innovation and cleaning our air.”
For more information contact:
Raphael Hanoteaux, EU funds policy officer
CEE Bankwatch Network
Izabela Zygmunt, coordinator
Polish Green Network, CEE Bankwatch Network