A new budget for a new Europe
Right now Europe’s leaders are planning how to spend hundreds billions of euros that will be the new EU budget after 2020. The EU budget can and should play an important role in protecting the environment and climate, driving sustainable development and leading a low-carbon transformation across central and eastern Europe and beyond – here’s how:
The Budget is a proven tool in the fight against climate change, and the European Commission is proposing that one in every four euros be spent on climate action. But what about the other three quarters of the trillion euro Budget? The scale of investments needed to transform Europe’s society such that it meets the ambitious goals of the 2050 climate and energy targets is so massive that we cannot afford one cent more on projects like fossil fuels that block from this pathway.
A visionary Budget that is placed-based and participatory can transform the regions of Europe regions that need it most, especially those in central and eastern Europe that are overly reliant on coal. The right combination of incentives and conditions is needed, with a focus on investments in clean energy, thermal retrofits and targets for homes generating their own renewable energy. Incentives are also needed to compensate for the political costs of pursuing such investments, especially in places that depend heavily on mining but are moving away from coal.
The added value of the Budget in promoting EU values, policies and legislation is key to enhancing citizens’ belief in the European project. Yet unaccountable and untransparent spending results in harmful investments that erodes this trust. The next Budget should enable citizen participation in the design, spending and monitoring of all investments and programmes, and offer the possibility for redress when Budget spending fails to live up to this potential. The Budget should take inspiration from local communities who are finding their own solutions to the climate crisis and leading the just transition.
For nearly three decades, the EU budget, and especially sectoral instruments like the Cohesion Policy, have been a proven catalyst in the fight against climate change and the transition to a low-carbon energy system. By providing public investments in cleaner transport, energy and construction, which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) can shape our response to the challenges posed by climate change.
We are currently debating the EU budget for the years 2021-2027, at a time when it has never been more urgent to invest heavily in clean energy and low-carbon technologies.
To ensure that the next budget works for the climate and for the people, it should follow the basic principles highlighted in our vision for the next Budget: climate should be at the forefront of any spending, aimed at achieving the 2030 energy objectives; funds should be disbursed in a transparent manner, and should enable the involvement of local actors and communities.
From Europe’s municipalities to Brussels corridors
With the help of our member groups, our work stretches from local to international level.
Our decades of experience in monitoring EU spending shows:
– Highly problematic investments deemed as ‘climate-friendly’ because of the inconsistent and incomplete definitions of ‘climate mainstreaming’ in Slovakia and the Baltics;
– Lack of strong accountability and transparency provisions enabling the misuse of EU funds in Bulgaria and Latvia;
– Smart use of EU funds unlocking the potential of the countries to achieve their 2030 climate and energy targets in the Czech Republic;
… and more.