Parliament votes through an EU budget that is out of touch with new realities
Brussels, Belgium: The European Parliament has passed a resolution supporting the next 7 year EU budget 2014-2020. The legacy of this €960 billion “Multi Annual Financial Framework” (MFF) will be one of wasted opportunity for greening the EU economy, stimulating innovation and getting people back in work. Under the agreed deal most EU expenditure will continue current programmes with a negative environmental impact while environmental-friendly programmes such as LIFE or the Agri Environmental measures are seriously under resourced given their contributions to improving environmental quality.
Mr Tony Long, Director, WWF European Policy Office
A wasted opportunity
“This was the definitive opportunity for the EU to align its budget with its 2020 environmental targets and address some of the biggest problems of our time: climate change, loss of biodiversity as well as unemployment and a stalling economy. Instead we have a patchwork of national pet projects with little or no consistency in addressing our environmental challenges and commitments. A bold reallocation of EU money to sustainable rural development, low carbon innovation, developing countries and biodiversity was there for the taking but simply did not happen.”
Scandal over the CAP
“The biggest scandal is the new Common Agricultural Policy (€363 billion). The original intention of financially rewarding farmers who adopt good environmental measures was thrown out of the window, only to be replaced by an agreement with all the hallmarks of green washing. The necessary rebalancing between the over resourced harmful direct subsidies pillar and the smaller but much more effective Rural Development pillar did not happen. Instead, we got a CAP that uses complex mechanisms to continue channelling money to the richest farmers regardless of whether they pollute or not.”
The weak promise of 20% climate spending
“Earlier in the year we were given hope when the three main institutions reached political agreement to spend at least 20% of the EU budget for climate action. But this commitment did not make the final budget regulation and implementation.
“WWF insists that clear implementing mechanisms must be set to ensure that the 20% climate commitment will be delivered. Additionally, the unspent money put in the new “Global margin” should be allocated to the priority areas of eco-innovation, protection of our natural capital, energy and resource efficiency and a low carbon economy (including outside the EU).These are the best way to create jobs and contribute to reaching EU environmental commitments. This is the last chance for the EU institutions to salvage any pride from this otherwise lackluster budget performance.”
Main points of concern for WWF on the EU Budget agreement:
1. The European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament had made a political agreement to ensure that 20% of all MFF expenditure should be spent for climate action. This does not appear in the final written agreement (MFF regulation or Inter-Institutional Agreement), giving it little value.
2. The so-called “green reform” of the Common Agricultural Policy is at best a joke and at worst a disastrous backwards step for the European environment and society. CAP is divided into two “pillars”, Direct Payments (77% of CAP) and Rural Development (23% of CAP). The essential Rural Development Pillar which includes the Agri-Environment schemes and supports rural communities is having its budget reduced significantly (-12% compared as today), while cuts to Direct Payments are limited; on top Direct Payments can largely siphon scarce Rural Development funds through a new mechanism. In addition the planned 30% Greening payment for Direct Payments exempts around 85% of all EU farmers from the full measures. By allowing them to choose from a menu of weak choices that may have very little benefit – if any - for the environment.
3. The tiny but successful LIFE fund focused on the environment is given a key role to fight biodiversity. But funds is severely lacking for reaching the European 2020 biodiversity target: LIFE is only 0,3% of the EU budget while a modest 1% is necessary.
4. Funding for the External Dimension has not increased inline with what was proposed by the European Commission despite the ambitious EU commitments to alleviate misery and contribute to climate and biodiversity finance for the poorest countries.
Philippe Carr, WWF European Policy Office,