Little is known about how Member States intend to use funds from the EU’s EUR 672 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility, 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, finds new research by Bankwatch for the Green 10 network of environmental groups [1].

A survey of how the spending plans are being prepared in 20 countries finds that almost no one is opening the plans to public scrutiny, nor are these being subjected to strategic environmental assessments, both of which are required by EU law.

Treaties like the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters [2], 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.

Last week the European Commission issued guidance on the preparation of the plans that recommended Member States consult civil society over the investment list, which are due in April. In a follow-up letter [3] to Commission Vice-Presidents Timmermans and Dombrovskis, the groups outlined how hastily brushing aside these legal requirements will imperil the EU’s own goal of becoming a net-zero emitter of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Raphael Hanoteaux, EU funds policy officer at CEE Bankwatch Network, said, “Recovery cannot come without resilience, so member states must plan to build back better. Investments in small-scale renewables, energy efficiency and a socially-just transition away from carbon heavy-industries are the types of community-focused projects that can move Europe forward. The Commission should press Member States to open the planning process and include the voices pushing for such funding.”

Markus Trilling, Finance and Subsidies Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said “Member States are making investment decisions today which will shape our economies for decades. Now is the time to ensure these investments help us in the needed transformation towards a better society for all. This can not happen with citizens left outside, which is why public consultation processes are part of Europe’s legislative framework. ”

ENDS

Contacts:

Raphael Hanoteaux
EU policy officer
CEE Bankwatch Network
+32 496 205 903
raphaelh@bankwatch.org

Markus Trilling
Finance and Subsidies Policy Coordinator
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe
markus@caneurope.org

Notes:

[1] The assessment of the plans is available here
[2] https://live.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/documents/cep43e.pdf
[3] See the letter to the commission vice-presidents here