EU leaders’ budget talks need to shift focus from quantity to climate compatibility

Financing the transition

During a General Affairs Council meeting today, EU ministers exchanged their views on the long term EU budget for the period 2021-2027. While they focussed on the size of future EU funding in view of traditional policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy and of new priorities like migration, they missed out to address current flaws to ensure a fully climate-friendly budget for the EU.

CAN Europe has recently published an analysis of the integration of climate action in the next long term EU budget, which assesses the European Commission’s proposals and develops recommendations to EU decision-makers to maximise the benefits of EU funding for the climate. It reveals a number of shortcomings that need to be overcome.

The analysis finds that in the current proposals, the increase in climate-related spending is rather modest and not legally binding in most of the cases. Also, the extent to which some fundings that are labelled ‘climate action’ will have a positive impact on climate is highly questionable, such as for instance direct payments to European farmers. Climate tracking and proofing will thus need significant improvement.

What’s more, environmentally harmful activities are not at this stage excluded from the proposed future EU budget. Gas pipelines and projects in the transport sector are set to continue to be supported, hindering the transition to zero emissions mobility. The same goes with Carbon Capture and Storage technologies, risking carbon lock-in of energy systems and delays in the necessary transition away from fossil fuels.

Markus Trilling, Finance and Subsidies Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:
“This summer revealed once again the costly impacts of climate change. EU leaders must take responsibility and tap the full potential of the EU budget to catalyse the transition to zero carbon economies. This must go hand in hand with excluding fossil fuels from receiving EU funds, unlike the current proposals that, if they remain as they are, would continue to prop up gas projects.”

“It is vital to ensure sufficient funding for Member States to achieve 2030 climate and energy targets that are in line with the Paris Agreement objectives.”



Nicolas Derobert, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator,, +32 483 62 18 88


Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 40 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.


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