European Green Deal calls for a green EU budget

(EurActiv, 16 Sep 2019) Torn between the cuts caused by Brexit and the investments that the European Green Deal requires, negotiations over the next EU budget after 2020 are getting tough. The EU must not, however, pass on the challenge and use 40% of its funds to support climate action, writes Markus Trilling.

Markus Trilling is policy coordinator for finance and subsidies at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, an environmental NGO.

Today’s General Affairs Council gathering the EU finance ministers will discuss ‘progress’ made in the negotiations on the next long-term EU budget.

This is yet again expected to be a difficult one, as negotiations are stuck on a number of issues including the total figure and new spending priorities. The fears of having a weaker EU budget because of Brexit should not sideline talks on how to ensure the next EU budget can become a key pillar to boost the clean energy transition.

The post-2020 budget has to adjust to the Brexit gap while trying to accommodate new priorities. The financial shortfall is estimated at €84-98 billion over seven years. This deficit would need to be offset by either unpopular cuts to cherished programs (agriculture, cohesion policy, etc.), increases in Member States’ contributions, the introduction of new resources or a combination of all these options. On top of these are new challenges – including migration, defence, and climate change – and ‘traditional’ treaty objectives which call for sufficient funding.

EU’s budgetary issues are clearly on the president-elect Ursula von der Leyen’s Green Deal agenda. This includes the launch of a “sustainable Europe investment plan” capable to mobilise up to €1 trillion of private investment over the next decade, and the creation of a “Just Transition Fund” to support people and regions most affected by the energy transition.

Challenges ahead

To make the Green Deal a tangible reality across the EU, the new Commission will need to ensure Member States are spending their EU funds 2021-2027 with the goal to achieve higher climate ambition. At the same time those countries that are opposing the 2050 climate neutrality goal, namely Czechia, Estonia, Hungary and Poland, will seek financial compensation.

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EurActiv, 16 Sep 2019: European Green Deal calls for a green EU budget