UPDATE: Danube dam-busting - Under the radar EU funds grab spotted in Slovakia

A highly problematic Danube dam project has found its way into the Slovak Operational Programme for the Cohesion Policy spending in the 2014-2020 period and has become a small scandal in the country.

Bankwatch Mail 58

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Issue 58 of Bankwatch Mail, published as stakeholders meet in the European Parliament to discuss the future of the 'Energy Community'. Comprising the countries of the western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine, the Energy Community aims primarily to extend EU internal energy policy to south east Europe and the Black Sea region. Its modus operandi and achievements are now being evaluated at high level, which - as this issue shows - is undoubtedly necessary given the stunning number of highly questionable coal and lignite fired power plants that are proceeding in various Energy Community members.

UPDATE 2: The devil is in the implementation - Experiences from the partnership principle in central and eastern European practice

At the peak of EU funds’ programming, experiences from CEE countries reveal deficiencies in the application of the Code of Conduct and a flawed implementation of the partnership principle. This undermines the credibility of the programming process and leaves benefits of a comprehensive involvement of all stakeholders untapped. The sometimes even entertaining list of partnership shortcomings brings us to the conclusion that a purely voluntary partnership without common standards much too often continues to end up being a purely formal exercise, and that the promotion of best practices alone is not sufficient to ensure quality partnership.

Sochi 2014 - Independent Environmental report

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This report, prepared by Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC) gives account of the extensive environmental damage resulting from the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

European Development Bank: Backward Step on Rights - Draft Policy Would Weaken Protection

(London) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) new draft Environment and Social Policy would fail to weed out abusive development projects, seven human rights and bank watchdog organizations said today in a joint statement. The bank’s consultation on the draft policy closes on March 5, 2014. It then has an opportunity to revise the policy before sending it to the bank’s board for approval in the coming months.

Appeal to the EBRD to freeze Ukrainian projects until government allows for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis

In light of the recent violence in Ukraine, Bankwatch is asking the EBRD, the largest foreign investor in Ukraine, to refrain from any further cooperation both on new and current projects until the government takes decisive and peaceful steps to end the escalation of the current crisis, ends human rights violations committed by government forces, shows clear commitment to settling the political crisis in a peaceful way and addresses the key concerns of the protests.

EIB suspends operations in Ukraine, EBRD ducks the question

Kiev – The European Investment Bank announced the suspension of all activities in Ukraine yesterday following the most violent day since protests in this country began. In its turn, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development declared it would “concentrate on the private sector”, hardly a meaningful stance considering the close links between government and the business sector in this country.

Energy Community Treaty revision - NGO policy briefing

The EU-backed Energy Community Treaty, which brings together the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova in order to integrate them with the EU energy market. Although original Treaty contains some environmental obligations for signatory countries, it pays relatively little attention to environmental and public health concerns. This in turn increases the likelihood of EU countries importing energy produced at great costs to the people and environment in accession and neighbouring countries. The current revision of the Treaty is a valuable opportunity to rectify this problem.

EIB lending for the Czech Operational Programme Transport 2007-2013

The Operational Programme Transport 2007-2013 is expected to provide EUR 5.8 billion for transport projects in the Czech Republic. Of this amount, up to EUR 1.3 billion should come from the EIB via the Structural and Cohesion Funds Transport Framework Facility for 2007-2013, with some 55 percent earmarked for investments in new motorway corridors and the rest for upgrades to existing rail corridors. An analysis of the OP project showed many cases of misuse of the public funding.

Media brief: Silver lining in the Energy Community Treaty

Currently, a High Level Reflection Group is evaluating the institutional set-up and working methods of the Energy Community and will report this June with suggested improvements to the Ministerial Council. Yet the composition of this group and the informal reports from its first meeting suggest that the environment is in danger of being neglected once again in the updated Treaty.

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