European Parliament votes for much greener cohesion policy

(EurActiv, 31 Jan 2019) The European Parliament’s committee on regional development has voted on Cohesion policy regulation, and there is the clear intention of making Cohesion much greener from 2020. For the first time, there is also to be a ban on providing support for fossil fuels. EURACTIV Germany reports.

It was only a minor vote but it could set the course for Europe’s regions. Last week, the Parliament’s committee on regional development (REGI) voted on the framework regulation for the EU structural fund after 2020.

Behind the regulation is the set of rules specifying the guidelines used by the EU to provide support for its regions. Cohesion policy, which represents more than €350 billion, constitutes almost a third of the total EU budget. The funds are invested in infrastructure,  social and educational projects, as well as projects supporting the local economy.

Excluding fossil fuels from support, a historic step

The unusual thing about the parliament’s proposal, which has now been adopted, was that it stipulated wide-ranging measures for climate protection.

The Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, a coalition of organisations fighting climate change, was pleased about the Parliament’s progressive proposals. “Some points really blew us away,” said Markus Trilling, finance and subsidies policy coordinator at CAN.

For instance, the framework regulation explicitly mentions climate protection as a priority of cohesion policy and puts first the principle of energy efficiency in the supported projects. In order to promote “climate proofing,” regional projects should preferably be given support if they cause as little environmental damage as possible and are “climate change-resistant.”

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EurActiv, 31 Jan 2019: European Parliament votes for much greener cohesion policy