What should have been two significant contributions to Europe's war chest in the fight against climate change will in fact leave the planet short-changed and open the door to even more polluting fossil fuel projects, argue campaigners at Bankwatch, Friends of the Earth Europe and Climate Action Network Europe.
Today, the European Commission proposed a second iteration of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (the so-called 'Junker Investment Plant'). It would extend its operations until 2020 – two and a half years beyond its initial term – and aim to leverage 500 billion euro in additional infrastructure investments across the EU.
While the new proposal would include so-called 'climate action components' in at least 40 percent of new projects, the groups argue that virtually any investment could fit within this framework.
Anna Roggenbuck, EIB campaigner at Bankwatch, said: "The Commission's proposal is pretty generous about what it would consider climate-friendly. Moving the goalposts would mean that refurbishing a gas pipeline would count as a climate action component. We need a real guarantee that money allocated for climate action is spent to fulfil the EU's climate obligations under the Paris Agreement and not some form of green washing."
Also at issue is the introduction of a new provision that would make any piece of infrastructure eligible for an EU guarantee under the EFSI as long as it is cross border between two member states.
"This provision paves the way for continued investments in fossil fuels such as gas infrastructure and climate intensive motorway transport", argued Wendel Trio, Director at CAN-Europe. "Instead, we need investments in genuine alternatives that support the transition away from carbon pollution".
In a parallel move, the Commission also published its mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 (the so-called 'EU budget'). In a sobering admission, it predicts that it will not reach the 20 per cent spending for climate action, as was mandated when the budget was approved in 2013.
The mid-term review gives a nod to the need to foster job creation, investment and economic growth as well as addressing migration and its root causes. However, the mid-term review fails to mention enhancing funding to tackle climate change or removing fossil fuel subsidies which inhibit Europe's ability to meet its international climate objectives.
Markus Trilling, EU funds campaigner at Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth, said: "The two proposals today sold out the EU's long-term plans for climate action. The Commission betrayed the commitments made in Paris by allowing more money for fossil fuels. Now it is up to the European Parliament and the Council to right the Commission's wrongs and ensure that both the Juncker Investment Plan and the EU budget truly deliver for the climate."