Disputes about coronavirus recovery funds slow down EU climate action
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Disputes about coronavirus recovery funds slow down climate action in the EU, Hendrik Kafsack writes in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). The veto of Hungary and Poland against the 1.8 trillion euro coronavirus recovery package makes the tightening of the CO2 reduction target from 40 to 55 percent by 2030 more difficult, Kafsack argues. "The Council is allowing itself to be taken hostage by a few countries and is blocking not only the reconstruction of the European economy but also the EU climate law," Green politician Michael Bloss told FAZ. Several Eastern European countries, including Poland and Hungary, have been making clear that they will only accept a higher reduction target if they receive financial support, the article says. A total of 30 percent of the 1.8 trillion euro package is to flow into climate action. Money on which Poland in particular is highly dependent in order to make the switch from coal-based electricity to wind and solar energy, writes Kafsack. Poland and Hungary, as well as Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia and Lithuania are demanding additional funds by way of an increase of the modernisation fund, FAZ reports. So far, the fund is to provide around 14 billion euros between 2021 and 2030 for the modernisation of energy systems in Eastern European countries. The Netherlands, Spain and France have strictly rejected this demand, FAZ writes.
The European Commission, under president Ursula von der Leyen, has proposed an increase of the bloc’s 2030 climate target to “at least 55 percent”, but the decision is far from taken. Member states still need to agree on their position before a new target can be embedded in the planned EU climate law. Germany currently holds the EU Council presidency and aims to get member states to agree a new 2030 target at the leaders meeting this week (10-11 December), in order to be able to communicate it to the UN.