EU funds: the climate is not a bargaining chip
2 min read

EU funds: the climate is not a bargaining chip

Political horse-trading could see fossil gas included in the €240 bn Regional Funds

What’s happening?
On 8-9 December, the EU will reach a final decision on two key pots of money: the €240 billion European Regional Development and Cohesion Funds (ERDF-CF), and the smaller, but strategic €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund.

The EU Council agreed in July that its multi-year budget and recovery funds would follow the EU Green Deal - which includes a climate neutrality goal for 2050 - and ‘do no significant harm’. This should mean no fossil fuels receive EU funding. However, there is now a real risk that a political game of horse-trading on 8-9 December will result in the Regional Funds including fossil gas, in exchange for no fossil fuels in the Just Transition Fund.

This would be catastrophic for the climate and for Europe’s most vulnerable regions, as it would lock them into years of unviable and polluting fossil fuels.

Sébastien Godinot, Economist at WWF European Policy Office said:
“The climate is not a political bargaining chip, to be brandished when expedient then traded behind closed doors. EU leaders all committed to aligning economic recovery with climate neutrality. Allowing fossil fuels into any EU funds would be a disaster. At a minimum, ‘do no significant harm’ criteria based on the EU taxonomy need to apply to all spending in the ERDF and all EU funds”.

Katie Treadwell, Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
“Allowing fossil fuels would be a kick in the teeth for the communities these two funds were set up to help, for there is no sustainable future that includes any gas, coal or oil.”

What does WWF want to see?

  • Full exclusion of gas and all fossil fuels from all EU funds.
  • At a minimum, ‘do no significant harm’ criteria, to be defined by the EU Taxonomy on sustainable investments, to be applied to all spending in the ERDF and all EU funds
  • In the Just Transition Fund, funding to be dependent on climate action and reward greater ambition
  • Meaningful application of the ‘Partnership Principle’ so that programming, monitoring and evaluation involves all stakeholders, in all funds possible.Previously, the Commission and EU Parliament had positions on the ERDF that excluded fossil fuels altogether, while the EU Council imposed a 1% limit on the amount of ERDF funding that could go to fossil fuels.

    On the Just Transition Fund, the EU Parliament’s position would allow fossil gas to be supported, while the Commission and Council opposed all fossil fuels.

    Sébastien Godinot
    Economist, WWF European Policy Office
    +32 489 46 13 14

    Katie Treadwell
    Energy Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office
    +32 470 73 57 48

    Sarah Azau
    Media Manager, WWF European Policy Office
    +32 473 57 31 37
The Niederaussem coal-fired (lignite) power plant, near Cologne in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. © Andrew Kerr / WWF

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