EU budget set at €960bn but climate commitment in balance

By Ed King

A European commitment to allocate 20% of all funds to climate change related projects is hanging in the balance, according to observers at the EU budget talks in Brussels.

The EU Commission proposed the target in 2011, and was backed by the EU Parliament in October 2012, but increasing pressure to cut the budget from 2014-2020 could see this dropped.

An overall figure of €960bn for the 2014-2020 budget is thought to have been agreed but details on where the €12bn cuts on November’s rejected proposal remain unknown.

“We have this 20%, probably, as a political commitment, but that is a long way off being translated into spending,” said Markus Trilling, CEE Bankwatch Network/Friends of the Earth Europe.

The near-trillion euro budget talks lasted all night and will continue deep into Friday (Source: Flickr/waldopics)

“A deal now is better than nothing, it means that policies can keep moving forward. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a catastrophe. All the progressive elements for research and eco-innovation, Horizon2020, smart grids, will suffer,” added Trilling.

Negotiations between the 27 member states started five hours late on Thursday, and continued into the early hours of Friday morning before the new top line figure was proposed at 0500 CET on Friday.

At stake is almost one trillion euros. The UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden want to see this figure reduced with €972bn deal rejected in November. Others in eastern and southern Europe are demanding funding is maintained.

RTCC understands the reluctance of France, Spain and Italy to see a reduction in finance for the CAP is exacerbating the situation further.

CAP is linked with a number of inefficient agriculture practices, including over production of some food stuffs. Agriculture is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK government assured NGOs in January that it would like to see an increase in climate related financing.

In a letter to WWF’s David Nussbaum the Treasury Secretary Greg Clark admitted he wanted to see a smaller EU budget, but said low carbon initiatives should not suffer as a result.

“We consider that spending on climate change should have a proportionately larger share of EU spending,” he said.

“Climate change spending is a priority area in order to facilitate Europe’s transition to a low carbon economy.”

Major investments in transport infrastructure including support for alternative fuels and vehicle efficiency look to set to cover some of the cut in the budget.

Plans to build more connections between Europe’s electricity grids and to upgrade to smart grid technology are also thought to be on the chopping block. These projects would create improve the effectiveness of renewable energy and boost efficiency.

The draft proposal includes a cut in the energy infrastructure budget of the Connecting Europe Facility from €7.1bn to €5.1bn.

Full details on cuts are expected on Friday night but deliberations could run into Saturday morning.

Draft EU budget document

Draft Conclusions, EU Budget Talks, Feb 2013

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