Member States are currently developing their EU funds spending plans to demonstrate to the European Commission how they are going to use the unprecedented amounts of EU budget and recovery funds. A campaign by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, as a part of its Unify project, identifies climate and environmental friendly and harmful practices that 13 Member States and regions plan to finance from the EU’s purse. The campaign website is ”

The EU’s recovery package, combined with its 2021-2027 EU budget totals € 1.8 trillions and is the largest financial package ever (in the EU) and aims to stimulate the economy during the ongoing pandemic. At the same time EU’s financial support should go for implementing the objectives of the EU Green Deal in tackling the climate crisis and building more sustainable, resilient societies and economies.

The EU Cash Awards campaign, looks at how Member States and regions are planning to use the available funding through a whole range of plans they have to develop to get access to EU funding, namely the Structural Funds, the Just Transition Fund, and the Recovery funding. Based on draft plans published by governments, or leaked documents, the EU Cash Awards Campaign highlights good, bad and ugly measures in these spending plans. The campaign aims to encourage Member States, regions, and the European Commission to take decisive steps in the finalisation of these spending plans by excluding all climate and environmental harmful measures and promoting solutions to tackle the climate and environmental crises.

Amongst the good examples which clearly contribute to the necessary transition, the ambitious Territorial Just Transition Plan of the Polish Eastern Wielkopolska region and the Estonian Ida-Virumaa region’s oil shale phase out from the heating sector are among the highlights. In addition, Polish government’s recovery measures that promote energy communities and energy efficiency in buildings, Spanish government’s plans to mobilise more than 10% of its Recovery Plan to create opportunities and public services in rural areas or the Belgian Walloon region’s planned investments for energy efficiency in buildings are EU investments which serve the people and the climate.

Unfortunately, the EU Cash Awards discovers more “bad” and “ugly” practices than good ones. The “bad examples” category brings together elements of greenwashing or partially good measures that are missing the opportunity for a real change. These include: missed opportunities for low carbon transport investments in Czechia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Belgium’s Flemish region, and lack of investments in renewables and energy efficiency – despite the huge potential – in Germany, France, Bulgaria, Czechia and Latvia. French and Spanish investment plans for financing “not so green hydrogen” also raise eyebrows. The fact that all these plans are overshadowed by lacking public consultation processes in almost all countries is a reason for concern for NGOs.

“Ugly practices”section covers spending measures that are aimed at propping fossil fuel use, be it oil, coal or gas. This section includes: France’s € 2.5 billion worth blank check to oil and gas companies as well as carbon-intensive industries, Polish and Bulgarian investments in polluting waste incinerations, Romania and Bulgaria’s investment plans for gas distribution and Slovenia’s bailout for aviation companies.