New report: EU funds must plug clean energy gap in central and eastern Europe

3 March 2010

Brussels, 3 March - On the day that the European Commission launches its vision for 2020, its 'Europe 2020 strategy', a new report from CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe lays out how improved targeting of EU structural and cohesion billions for energy efficiency and renewables can get the EU – and particularly the new member states in the east – on track to meet and exceed emissions reduction targets for tackling climate change.

The new analysis from CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe [1] points to alarming shortcomings in how billions of EU funds earmarked for clean energy projects in the new member states are being deployed. It calls for big increases in the marginal allocations that the new member states have thus far given to clean energy schemes, citing widespread evidence from the ground that building efficiency schemes are ready to take off if they become more affordable and if EU money is better targeted.

Markus Trilling, EU Funds coordinator for Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "As the central and eastern European economies struggle through the economic crisis, and at the same time know they must play their part in combating the climate crisis, evidence from across the region shows that the low carbon development potential afforded by the EU funds for increased energy efficiency and renewables projects is not being tapped into.

"The EU's new Europe 2020 strategy sets a course for economic development via green sustainable growth, but these aims need to be backed up by action and, crucially, funds. The European Commission and the member states must mainstream sustainability into all EU policies t and ensure that all existing instruments, such as the structural and Cohesion funds, support the development of a sustainable, Europe-wide, low-carbon economy.

"Good practices such as the Green Invesment Scheme in Latvia, where energy efficiency measures are financed through surpluses from selling emissions allowances and combined with financial incentives, need to be promoted throughout the EU, while common obstacles, such as the administrative incapacity of local authorities to process sustainable EU-funded project applications as seen in Bulgaria, must be lowered."

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Notes for editors:

1. CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe have worked together over the last decade to ensure more sustainable use of EU funds in central and eastern Europe, in this time compiling a range of ground-breaking analyses that have raised the alarm about ineffective, non-sustainable use of EU money in central and eastern Europe. The new report, "Potential unfulfilled: EU funding and Cohesion policy can do more for sustainable climate and energy development in central and eastern Europe" is available in pdf format here.

A short video clip introducing the report can be seen online here.