A list of projects member states want to see financed from the Juncker investment package has been made public in expectation of tomorrow’s summit where finance ministers will discuss the package. Coal, nuclear and incinerators are among the various countries’ priorities, which fail to add up to the long-term strategic plan to stimulate growth and sustainability in Europe that Juncker promised.
“Scary is the first word that came to my mind as I looked at the list of projects proposed by the various member states to be financed from Juncker’s billions,” comments Bankwatch’s Markus Trilling. “There is a huge amount of coal being proposed by the various countries, including Poland, Croatia and Romania, and this is in full contradiction not only to EU goals but also to Juncker’s rhetoric on sustainability.”
“Poland is proposing a big number of coal plants, including Gubin, Laziska, Blachownia and Kozienice, and it also put forward the expansion of lignite mines at Gubin,” notes Trilling. “But this is ridiculous in the context of a growth package. Polish state owned mines have been systematically losing money and burdening the Polish economy and a new mine is only going to make things worse. Perhaps now that former Prime Minister Donald Tusk has moved to Brussels to become Council President, he might be more inclined to see Poland’s ambitions as they really are: self-deluded and destructive.”
Projects included on the priority list to be financed from Juncker’s package are supposed to be economically viable, but the example of the Polish mines proves that countries have not necessarily adhered to this condition and that further screening is crucial.
While there are some laudable projects on some of the countries’ lists – notably, Lithuania’s plans to invest 7.2 billion euros in household energy efficiency – these get completely crowded out by the numerous projects which would have a damaging impact on Europe’s environment, economy and financial stability if implemented.
“This list of projects gives us a startling view of what most EU countries plan to focus on in the near future: fossil fuel reliance in the energy sector, large-scale infrastructure, expansion of risky public private partnership schemes (PPP) to sectors like health and education,” comments Counter Balance’s Xavier Sol. “Such projects are not putting Europe on a sustainable growth path but rather they are increasing Europe’s vulnerability while passing the risks onto taxpayers.”
Bankwatch and Counter Balance express concern about how the priority projects list was put together by the mandated so-called “task force” made up for member states, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. According to the NGOs, the selection process has lacked transparency and it has involved disproportionately more representatives of the business sector than any other type of participants.
The list of projects is to be further discussed – and reduced – by the European Council, Commission and the European Investment Bank and no final decisions have been made yet. The European Parliament too will play a role in the approval of the investment package, though it is unclear yet what impact it can have on the actual list.
“The European Commission and the European Investment Bank proved that they can act fast with this package but now they have to prove they can also act responsibly,” says Sol. “As guarantors of the good use of public funds, the EC and the EIB have to help Europeans escape this madness of bad and dirty infrastructure and make sure transformative sectors such as energy efficiency and renewables get priority over fossil fuels. The EU institutions have to check properly every single project and make sure the public has a chance to comment on the list of projects that will get priority financing.”
For more information, contact:
Markus Trilling, Bankwatch
+32 484 056 636
Xavier Sol, Counter Balance