EU cohesion funds spent on ‘harmful’ projects
3 February 2012, The Parliament Magazine
A new report claims that “substantial” environmental and social harm is being caused by EU-funded projects.
Friends of the Earth Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network mapped 33 “harmful” projects in central and eastern Europe with total costs of €16bn.
They say the projects include highways passing through protected nature sites, waste incinerators and airports.
The two groups say these are being paid for – or being considered for financial support in the future – by cohesion policy funds in the current EU budget.
The “map” includes projects from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Estonia.
It is claimed the projects will cause damage such as increased pollution, loss of biodiversity, increased risk of flooding and displacement of local communities.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Markus Trilling, EU funds coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe and Bankwatch, said, “As we wait for the European council and parliament to have their say on the next European budget, this map shows that controversial projects are unfortunately not limited to a few isolated exceptions.
“EU money has the potential to bring lots of benefits to central and eastern European countries but if nothing changes it will bring substantial environmental and social harm throughout the region.”
“These projects are mistakes Europe cannot afford to make.”
He said that future legislation must “specifically prohibit the use of cohesion policy funds for detrimental projects”.
The research shows that almost €6.5bn has been spent on “detrimental” projects.
Almost €5bn is set to go the same route, and projects totalling another €5bn are currently considered for financing in the seven central and eastern European countries.
“Money must no longer be squandered on such foolish investments,” adds Trilling.
“It is vital that the next €1 trillion EU budget offers possibilities for overcoming the current recession and de-carbonising economies. Courageous action is needed to overturn the legacy of bad planning and realise the beneficial potential of EU funds.”
Institution: EU Funds
Theme: Other harmful projects