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Forests sitting on lignite saved in Romania

Bankwatch and Greenpeace won a court case* in Romania this week, which will effectively prevent 59 hectares (the equivalent of 118 football pitches) of forest from being destroyed by the expansion of one of the open-pit coal mines that supplies Rovinari, one of the largest coal plants in Romania.


Green spending shoots in eastern EU at risk of being crushed

EU member states and the European Commission, after what has felt like a marathon two-year process, are now engaged in finalising agreements on the EU’s Structural and Cohesion Funds (ESIF) investment strategies and spending plans for the 2014 -2020 EU budget period.

Where the 11 'new' member states of central and eastern Europe (CEE) are concerned, their approach to economic and societal development via the EU funds is proving to be a double-edged sword: while their spending plans for climate action is set to increase ten-fold in comparison to the 2007-2013 period, and the 'greenest Cohesion Policy legislation ever' prevents them from committing major environmental crimes, a reasonable long-term investment strategy, and financing, to achieve the decarbonisation of these economies by 2050 is noticeably lacking.

EU funds continue to do their bit for the promotion of sustainable living in Hungary

Whether at the global level with the United Nations Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, the European level with the Environment Action Programme to 2020, or at the national level, a great deal of effort is being made to promote, develop and expand sustainable lifestyles and production. Such efforts should be tailor-made for receiving financial support from the EU funds.

Czech energy efficiency - an open goal demanding more EU funds ambition

The Czech government's plan to phase out part of its lignite-fired power plant fleet by 2025 has hit the news recently with total annual power output from this climate-damaging source set to drop from 40 TWh in 2015 to 18 TWh by 2035. However the increased electricity consumption projected in the very same planning scenarios, that over time will eliminate the country's current high energy export share and shift it instead onto an import dependency path, places an unfortunate question mark over just how serious the Czech Republic is about its transition to becoming an energy efficient, low-carbon economy.

How many white elephant projects can you fit into EU funds programming?

Some Czech projects proposed for EU funding are already sticking out as 'white elephant' investments. As the final spending decisions for 2014-2020 shape up, Bankwatch will be keeping a close eye on the likely stampede of similar project concepts all across central and eastern Europe.

EU funds and biomass: Slovakia risks losing sight of both the wood and the trees

EU funds for the 2014-2020 budgetary period look set to further fuel the massive over-exploitation of biomass for energy use in Slovakia. Formally, both the European Commission and the Slovak Ministry of Economy have announced the introduction of sustainability rules to govern the use of new EU money. Yet only the final phase of EU funds programming – now under way – will determine whether or not this latest injection of EU investment money will recklessly contribute to the destruction of Slovakia’s key natural treasure – its forests.

Sharing the shale experience

Shale gas has become a focal point of interest for central and eastern European governments, with oil corporations (not only) from the West ready to start drilling as soon as possible. But protests have sparked across the region from Zurawlow in Poland to Pungesti in Romania. We spoke with two anti-fracking activists working on the Neuquén province in Argentina where the struggles of local communities against conventional oil and gas exploration are now amplified by even more problems related to unconventional fuels.


Transition triumphs and traps - Assessing Poland's recent economic journey, and where it goes next

During last month's EBRD annual meeting in Warsaw, Bankwatch Mail convened a discussion about the state of the Polish economy between a financial journalist and a sociologist – both residents of the Polish capital – to hear their views on some of the pressing economic issues of the day, as well as the ongoing Polish 'transition' process. With the 25th anniversary of the end of communist rule in Poland a few months away now (today in fact marks a quarter of a century since the first Polish elections under communism), what have been the achievements and the lessons to be learned from the last two and half decades?


Transition triumphs and traps - Assessing Poland's recent economic journey, and where it goes next

During last month's EBRD annual meeting in Warsaw, Bankwatch Mail convened a discussion about the state of the Polish economy between a financial journalist and a sociologist – both residents of the Polish capital – to hear their views on some of the pressing economic issues of the day, as well as the ongoing Polish 'transition' process. With the 25th anniversary of the end of communist rule in Poland a few months away now (today in fact marks a quarter of a century since the first Polish elections under communism), what have been the achievements and the lessons to be learned from the last two and half decades?

EU funds draft spending plans reveal flaws in environmental mainstreaming in central and eastern Europe

While the EU regulations for the Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 themselves contain many important provisions on integrating environmental protection and fostering sustainable development, the draft Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes presented by national governments do not fully exploit the potential to build a green, sustainable economy with the help of the EU budget.

CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth campaigners across the central and eastern Europe region have reviewed the draft documents, detecting a number of problematic issues – both regarding the funding priorities and the process of EU funds programming itself.

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