EU Budget’s regional funding at risk of flying in the face of the European Green Deal

Financing the transition


On 8-9 December, the Commission, Parliament and Council will take a final decision on the 240 billion euro Regional Development and Cohesion Funds, and the 17.5 billion euro Just Transition Fund. Legislators are expected to horse trade a deal that will allow the financing of fossil gas. EU funding for fossil gas would breach the European Green Deal’s ‘do no significant harm’ principle.

In July, EU Heads of State and Government in the Council had agreed to tie the whole EU budget and recovery funding to EU’s climate commitments and the European Green Deal. This is the ‘do no significant harm’ principle, meant to ensure environmental protection and the EU budget’s delivery on climate neutrality objectives.

According to the latest developments that CAN Europe is aware of, EU ministers and European Parliament negotiators will very likely breach their promises and compromise their green credentials. The deal to be struck during the final ‘trilogue session’ would allow fossil fuel funding from the – significantly bigger – Regional Development Fund, and to keep the Just Transition Fund fossil fuel-free in return. This backsliding would exclude regional funds from the “Do no harm principle”, meaning the 240 billion euro programme for the regions could continue to finance old, carbon-intensive infrastructure.

Earlier the European Commission had proposed to keep both funds, the Regional Development Fund and the Just Transition Fund, fossil fuel-free.

Markus Trilling, finance and subsidies policy coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe says:
“Funding fossil gas from the regional funds would be a bad deal for the climate and for the future of European regions. The EU’s regional development funding is there to bring in investments that reform economies towards a sustainable future, not lock them into outdated technologies and fossil fuel dependency for decades.”

“EU leaders must live up to their promises on the European Green Deal. The “Do no harm” principle means all fossil fuel subsidies must be banned from the EU Budget. Handing out more EU fossil fuel subsidies would be a pure scandal in light of the climate emergency we are facing.”



Markus Trilling, Finance and Subsidies Policy Coordinator at CAN Europe,, +32 2894 4688

Note to editors:

The briefing “EU funds need to catalyse the transition away from fossil fuels” by CAN Europe, CEE Bankwatch and WWF is accessible here:

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 170 member organisations active in 38 European countries, representing over 1.500 NGOs and more than 47million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.


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