Regional funding negotiations – Green groups warn against last minute reintroduction of fossil fuel subsidies
With the final negotiations aimed at sealing agreement on the EU budget for 2014-20 now underway, environment NGOs are warning that a last minute amendment aimed at permitting EU subsidies for fossil fuels that are devastating for the climate must be rejected by negotiators of the future EU Cohesion Policy’s regional development funds.
16 May 2013
BirdLife Europe, CEE Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth Europe, WWF
Brussels, Belgium – With the final negotiations aimed at sealing agreement on the EU budget for 2014-20 now underway, environment NGOs are warning that a last minute amendment aimed at permitting EU subsidies for fossil fuels that are devastating for the climate must be rejected by negotiators of the future EU Cohesion Policy’s regional development funds.
The overall multi-annual financial framework package for 2014-2020 includes spending under the Cohesion Policy. NGOs have discovered that negotiations on the European Regional Development Fund (part of Cohesion Policy) have recently seen the reintroduction by Polish MEP Jan Olbrycht of a proposal that could open the door to EU funding for oil, coal and gas. 
The negotiations on the next European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – taking place in the form of a ‘Trialogue’ between the European Council, Parliament and Commission – should conclude by the end of May.  The ERDF is expected to amount to around EUR 200 billion in the next seven year budgetary period.
Markus Trilling, EU funds coordinator for Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
“The Trialogue negotiations on the European Regional Development Fund, part of the EU budget, are at a crucial stage now, and despite the European Parliament having closed the door on future potential subsidies for fossil fuels last summer, certain fossil fuel advocates are refusing to lie down.”
Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy in BirdLife Europe, continues:
“It is unbelievable that at a time when public spending is under unprecedented scrutiny, some politicians are trying to pump taxpayers’ money into keeping the EU hooked on outdated and environmentally damaging sources of energy.”
Sébastien Godinot, EU budget coordinator in WWF European Policy Office, added:
“The future EU budget must be fully weighted behind cutting EU carbon emissions and support for ‘smart energy’. This should first and foremost mean developing and expanding electricity infrastructure to increase the uptake of renewable energy across member state grids. Gas is a mature energy source which does not need taxpayer support. Oil and coal, the fuels of the past, have no place in a clean energy future for Europe and must not receive a further lifeline from the EU budget.”
Markus Trilling concludes:
“This should not be tolerated by Trialogue negotiators. Abolishing subsidies for fossil fuels has now become a totemic issue in and outside of Europe, with organisations such as the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund issuing warnings that such subsidies cannot continue if the climate crisis is to be contained, and Europe’s clean energy sector is to be competitive.”
For more information, contact:
Markus Trilling, Bankwatch/Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: 00 32 (0) 484 056 636
Email: markus.trilling at bankwatch.org
Philippe Carr, WWF European Policy Office
Tel : 00 32 (0) 476 25 68 79
Email : pcarr at wwf.eu
Ariel Brunner, BirdLife Europe
Tel : 00 32 (0) 486 63 0042
Email: ariel.brunner at birdlife.org
Notes for editors:
1. Regarding negotiating texts on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Trialogue, specifically on energy infrastructures (article 5-7 e), the European Commission’s drafting suggestion was as follows in the last trialogue:
“(e) improving energy efficiency and security of supply through the development of smart gas and power distribution, storage and transmission systems and by supporting the integration of distributed generation;”
ERDF rapporteur, Jan Olbrycht MEP, recently proposed the following suggestion instead for the ERDF trialogue:
“(e) improving energy efficiency and security of supply through the development of smart energy distribution, storage and transmission systems and by supporting the integration of distributed generation”
NGOs point out that Rapporteur Olbrycht’s proposal is counterproductive as replacing “gas and power” by “energy” not only keeps gas in the scope of the article, but also potentially reopens the door to coal and oil that were previously rejected – making the Parliament’s position even worse than that of the Council.
2. There are several ongoing “Trialogues” related to the EU Budget for 2014-2020 taking place at the moment, with one of them being devoted to the next European Regional Development Fund.
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Institution: EU Funds
Theme: Energy & climate
Tags: Cohesion Policy | ERDF | fossil fuels | gas | trialogue