EU leaders recognise the green dimension of EU’s recovery, now funds must follow

Financing the transition

EU Heads of State and Government have exchanged their views on the revised EU budget and additional recovery funds proposed by the European Commission to counter the economic crisis.
While there was support for a recovery focus on the green dimension, they must now make sure that the money will be invested to achieve higher climate targets and a swift transition to climate neutrality.

At this early stage discussions are still hung up on the size of the recovery package and the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the share between grants and loans or national distribution keys. However, there was a lot of support for the green dimension of the EU’s Recovery Plan.

Now it is important that leaders talk about how the hundreds of billions will deliver on ambitious emission cuts in all economic sectors to avoid dangerous global warming.

The final agreement on the size of the budget must include conditionalities and a strong link to the increase of the 2030 climate target that needs to be agreed this year.

Our assessment of the EU recovery proposal reveals that the Commission’s proposal, while strongly emphasising the need for the recovery to be green, does not give sufficient guarantees that climate action will prevail over business as usual in Member States’ spending.

The entire package, which comprises the MFF 2021-2027 and additional funds specifically tailored to support economic recovery until 2024 called ‘Next Generation EU’, has in place an overall climate mainstreaming target of at least 25%.

However, the legislation for the ‘Next Generation EU’ does not specify how the new funds would contribute to achieving the set target. And subsidies for fossil fuel infrastructure are still possible. An overall increase to 40% and dedicated climate spending targets for each of the new programmes, together with the exclusion of fossil fuel subsidies, are therefore needed.

“It is a good sign that EU leaders recognise the green transition as an important objective that EU’s recovery has to deliver. But with the current Commission proposal, it’s up to member states to invest or not in a zero-carbon economy. While some countries pushing for higher climate ambition might use the money wisely, others might invest the money to cement current unsustainable activities. All EU leaders must commit to putting EU money into the green and just transition and abstain from providing fossil fuel subsidies. This is key to finance the economic transformation needed for the EU to achieve 65% emission cuts by 2030 as required by science,” said Markus Trilling, finance and subsidies policy coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.

The next decade will be crucial to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C as envisaged under the Paris Agreement. All countries need to submit enhanced 2030 climate targets by the end of this year. For EU climate action to align with science and equity, the EU will have to agree on a 2030 climate target of at least 65% emission cuts, as supported by science and equity, and key members of the European Parliament.


Nicolas Derobert, Head of communications,, +32 483 62 18 88

Note to editors:
Press conference following the video conference of the members of the European Council 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.