Clearly missed target

IF – 11/2022

In recent years, the issue of climate protection has moved higher and higher up the political agenda. Following the proclamation of the European Green Deal 2019 – a growth strategy in which the EU has called for a fair society with a competitive economy that uses resources efficiently – high goals have been set. One of these is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in order to protect people and the environment.

In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights

Various measures were also aligned with the European Pillar of Social Rights. The plan was to secure the minimum standard of living like a European minimum wage. For example, risk factors of energy poverty must be curbed. A sustainable circular economy is also said to have great potential for new occupational fields and the creation of new jobs. Vocational training through retraining programmes or new employment opportunities could trigger new opportunities for the world of work.

In addition, most affected citizens must be increasingly protected from environmental impacts. The European Climate Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund must be of help. Innovative digital technologies must additionally contribute to the realisation of the European sustainability goals towards a new living and working world.

High goals, but little implementation

However, the EU has now failed to meet its ambitious target of spending at least 20 per cent of the estimated financial resources on climate protection between 2014 and 2020. This is shown by a Report by the European Court of Auditors. The findings of the report were discussed at a joint meeting of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and the Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT) in the European Parliament on 7 November. The European Commission had previously stated that EUR 216 billion had been spent on climate protection measures, thus meeting the 20 per cent target set. However, it became clear in the audit report that not all of the projects included were relevant to climate change and that the total amount of expenditure for tackling climate change was set far too high.

Climate-friendly Member States?

The Members of Parliament were also irritated by the figures estimated by the European Commission. The Member States had not exhausted the available resources and in the debate they demanded clarification from the European Commission. The auditors of the European Court of Auditors also analysed that incorrect climate protection expenditures were also stated post 2020 due to the expected changes caused by the energy crisis and the current high inflation. Clearer communication and improved cooperation with the European Commission could help to improve the use of funds in the Member States and the corresponding reporting in the future. Concerns were raised about the accuracy of climate reporting for the 2021-2027 period. The European Green Deal is probably only valid on paper so far.