CEE Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth - Europe and Counter Balance welcome yesterday’s vote to earmark EUR 5 billion for energy savings projects across Europe by the Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE). The funds were allocated via an amendment to the European Fund for Strategic Investment regulation proposed by Commission president Juncker in December 2014. The vote also requires that any energy infrastructure project financed from the EUR 315 billion investment plan be in line with Europe’s long term energy and climate targets for 2050.

Markus Trilling of CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe said:

“This is the clearest signal so far from Europe's elected officials that the new investment plan must prioritise green investments such as renewables and energy efficiency projects, and reject dirty energy infrastructure. Now the Council of Ministers and the Commission must play ball as the legislation is negotiated, and member states should follow the foresight outlined in Parliament. Governments committed to a low carbon future need to work with all stakeholders to ensure the modernisation of Europe’s economies.”

Xavier Sol of Counter Balance said:

“Prioritising sustainable investments is crucial for getting more out of the Juncker plan which so far has been lacking a clear direction. However more democratic oversight and transparency are needed to guarantee the long term sustainability of the recovery plan.“

Governments in central and eastern Europe in particular are expected to take this as another sign that Europe is moving away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy future. At the heart of this should be higher standards of energy and resource efficiency and more renewable energies. Resources to make this required transition are available – both in the form of the Juncker Investment Plan and in the regional development funding.

People around the world are increasingly calling to making fossil fuels history, and yesterday's decision at the ITRE Committee makes it even harder to justify financing for new coal and gas infrastructure projects. This kind of long term perspective will also be needed in the Monday vote in the Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee.