Member States are going to invest an unprecedented amount of EU public funds and resources through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which amounts to EUR 672 billion. This is a key opportunity to stop dangerous climate change and reverse nature destruction, while creating much needed green jobs across the Union.
Yet this will only be achieved with proper citizen scrutiny and oversight over the planning and implementation, as well as their contribution to define milestones and targets. New Bankwatch and CAN Europe research, however, finds that secrecy, rather than openness and transparency, is dominating the process.
The infographic below, developed for the Green 10 network of environmental groups, is the result of consultations with civil society organizations from 20 European countries. It shows that almost no member state is opening the plans to meaningful public participation, nor are these being subjected to strategic environmental assessments.
This is not only raising concerns about the bloc’s ability to rebound from the economic downturn as it moves towards meeting Europe’s long-term climate and energy goals; it is also not compliant with EU law. Treaties like the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, to which each EU Member States is a party, require public participation for any plan, programme or policy related to the environment, including financial and budgetary plans, such as the recovery and resilience plans. The legislation governing the recovery fund expects consultation to happen.
Therefore, NGOs through an open letter are urgently calling on the Commission to release a clear and explicit list of guidelines to Member States, in order to clarify and promote the application of the partnership principle. Doing so would address the current confusion and provide the necessary impetus for Member States to improve the content of their recovery plans, better addressing the environmental ambition gap and societal needs more broadly.
Open letter to the Commission:
The data sheet is accessible here.