In an interview with Euractiv France, socialist MEP Pierre Larrouturou deplored the meagre €7.5 billion proposed in the European Commission's Just Transition Fund.
FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference after an extraordinary meeting of the EU college of commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Jan. 8, 2020.
However, her plan - which will require huge investment - hinges on participation from member states, which are locked in a bitter fight about the bloc's next long-term budget.
That is to be augmented by other EU investment programs and budgets, such as for transport and agriculture, as well as financing from the European Investment Bank and public-private ventures. The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) - the EU's assembly of local and regional leaders - has called over the past two years for a dedicated EU funding tool to support the decarbonisation of Europe's economies and minimise the risk of job layoffs, profit losses and undermining economic and social cohesion.
Parliament also once again confirmed its support for a climate law with a legally binding target for reaching climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.
To access the funds, European Union member countries will need to develop just transition plans, which identify regions that require investment support to undertake measures like the closure and rehabilitation of coal mines and coal fired power stations, and to build new industries and reskill workers in low emissions industries. "The plan that we present today, to mobilise at least Euro 1 trillion, will show the direction and unleash a green investment wave".
But member states will not be automatically awarded those sums as money will be allocated based on regional transition plans, which will have to spell out exactly how funding will be spent.
The funding for the JTM will come from three sources.
The Commission document excludes transition fund money to finance the construction of nuclear power plants.
And there is also a tricky debate over nuclear energy to be navigated.
The EU's economy chief cited a recent update to the EIB's energy lending policy, revenues generated by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and a newly-brokered sustainable investment taxonomy. This facility will provide loans to the public sector, for instance for investments in district heating networks and the renovation of buildings.
The Fund is to "benefit territories with high employment in coal, lignite, oil shale and peat production, as well as territories with carbon-intensive industries which will be either discontinued or severely impacted by the transition", the Commission proposal said. But there was enough time for a little bit of intrigue: where did the Just Transition Fund go?
"The prospect of a cleaner future may look good to most but the road to it may look daunting", Timmermans said, praising the EU Parliament for proposing the idea.
"No money should be distributed from this fund before there are clear commitments and concrete dates for the coal phase-out from member states", Green European lawmaker Niklas Nienass said.
"How it can help the economy, train people, and how it can better help the entire region economically", Loonela said. Talks are only just starting to gain momentum regarding the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF), and Poland, for example, has yet to support achieving climate neutrality.
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