Bankwatch Mail 53
Bankwatch Mail | 10 October 2012
This issue is devoted primarily to the countdown to EU Budget ‘D-day’, and the negotiations now reaching a troublesome climax on how approximately 1 trillion euros of EU money is to be spent across the continent in the 2014-20 budgetary period.
We also round up some recent developments at the EBRD and EIB. And if you think that US presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a monopoly on private equity and tax havens, think again.
- The debates, discussions and negotiations over the EU budget for 2014-20, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), have been bubbling behind the scenes for many months now, but in many senses they are just getting underway. This is crunch time now.
- A recently published analysis from Bankwatch that examines existing EU funding support for airports in Poland concludes that such EU support for airport infrastructure in Poland and other EU countries has to be phased out in the next EU budget period 2014-2020.
- The European Parliament has called for ‘sustainable transport’ to be a top priority for the next round of EU cohesion spending. Does this mean that we’ll be seeing a new generation of genuinely clean transport projects across Europe? Not just yet, argues Nina Renshaw of sustainable transport campaign group T&E.
- It is now widely acknowledged that there is enormous potential to reap environmental, social and economic dividends through improving the energy efficiency of Europe’s 160 million buildings. And yet actual investments in energy efficiency measures remain very small in comparison to this potential. To achieve the EU objective of a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 (from 1990 levels), the European Investment Bank estimates that EUR 85 billion per year is needed, with EUR 60 billion per year required for buildings alone. The forthcoming EU budget for 2014-20, currently being negotiated, has a vital role to play here, for both Europe’s more developed and less developed countries.
- Back in August, the Czech Republic’s handling of municipal waste attracted criticism from the European Commission, when it was identified as one of several EU member states not doing enough to recycle as well as actually infringing European legislation.
- Entries have started arriving at Bankwatch Towers with concepts and ideas for sustainable, community-based projects – the kind of projects that we think should be receiving much more support from the EU budget. If you live in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Macedonia or Slovakia, send us your ideas for a chance to realise them with a 3,000 euro prize.
- In recent years Sofia municipality has been looking for a modern waste management solution, but all in the wrong direction. At the end of 2011, the Bulgarian capital submitted its latest application for funding to the European Commission. Regrettably, this featured a capital-intensive waste treatment facility and virtually no measures directed at higher levels of the so-called ‘waste hierarchy’ – namely prevention and reuse.
- How much investment money is needed to create 60,000 jobs, and how much to save half a million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually? These are the kinds of calculations that a new Bankwatch study has been making with an eye on the uses of the EU’s future Cohesion policy funds in central and eastern Europe.
- Keti Medarova-Bergstrom, Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, and Pawel Swidlicki, Research Analyst at Open Europe, put their heads together to identify why and where EU budgetary spending has got it wrong in the past and propose how roughly one trillion euros can better serve Europe’s environment, economy and people in the next funding period.
- Bankwatch, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF have collaborated to produce a new map that illustrates some of the best practice Cohesion policy investments in infrastructure projects to be realised during the 2007-13 financial period.
- This summer Latvia’s minister for environment and regional development, along with some other like-minded politicians, appeared to kick-start a green revolution by proposing to set a ‘green vision’ for the small Baltic country’s National Development Plan (NDP) for the 2014-2020 period.
- Investments in transport infrastructure, particularly in the road sector, in the Czech Republic are stark reminders of wider failures in the country’s decision making that have left public confidence in national officialdom at all time lows. Some of these investments have also lead to hefty penalties being imposed by the European Commission. With planning underway for future EU funding in the Czech transport sector, now is not the time for the Commission to take its eye off the ball.
- The European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have been awarded some of the worst transparency scores for international finance institutions in this year’s Aid Transparency Index, published in early October by the campaign group Publish What You Fund.
- It has been a busy time of late for the planned EUR 800 million, 500 MW Plomin C coal power plant. The Croatian government is pressing ahead with the project under the assumption that it will – along with the equally controversial EBRD-financed Ombla hydropower plant – save Croatia’s ailing economy. Yet it is far from certain who will actually participate in the project, let alone finance it.
- With the European Investment Bank having recently postponed the annual face-to-face dialogue with NGOs that the bank’s former president Philippe Maystadt initiated in autumn 2011, it was good to see new EIB president Werner Hoyer being put on the spot in September by MEPs during a hearing at the Europeam parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.
- The storming of the US embassy in Cairo has diverted attention once again from the real issues facing Egypt. It couldn’t have come at a better time for those who want to convince the Egyptian people to accept an International Monetary Fund loan and other western IFI interventions, and thus extend former president Hosni Mubarak’s liberalisation of the economy.
- The Oil Road by James Marriot and Mika Minio–Paluello is a remarkable recounting of their journey along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline from Azerbaijan to the City of London. It is a narrative peppered with a wealth of cultural, social and economic history and kaleidoscopic insight from the Caspian region and beyond.
- This summer’s ‘silly season’ featured a blog post on the EBRD website replete with the claim that the bank has helped turn Serbia into a “role model for social inclusion of Roma”. This claim immediately rang hollow in light of the ongoing plethora of abuses of Roma rights in Serbia.
- For its first loan to ‘Arab Spring’ countries the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has chosen vehicles and partners whose ability to deliver developmental value is highly uncertain.
- With the EBRD due to sign off on its new mining strategy in November this year, 22 MEPs have pointed out in an open letter to European commissioners that given the state of the policy draft the bank risks contradicting the EU Resource Efficiency Roadmap and responsible mining principles. At risk of being compromised too, Bankwatch believes, are the EU’s 2020 strategy and EU commitments on climate change and biodiversity protection.