The EU budget, building a green economy or feeding vested interests
A smarter and more sustainable economy is required to meet the current economic crises - business as usual is no longer an option in Europe. Win-win solutions are needed in meeting the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and overconsumption of resources. This means both investing in the lead markets of the future - eco-innovation, energy savings in buildings, renewable energies, resource efficient practices, sustainable agriculture, decarbonised transport – AND taking care of existing natural resources by better integrating the environment throughout European investments.
BirdLife Europe has relentlessly campaigned to place the support for a sustainable and prosperous economy at the heart of the EU budget so that it can deliver a stronger, fairer, more innovative and more sustainable European economy. According to a GHK study, investing €1 billion of the EU budget can create 52,700 jobs in renewable energies or 29,000 in management of ecosystems. This is significantly higher than the 16,800 jobs created by investing in the current Regional (cohesion) Policy or 4,500 in the current Common Agricultural Policy.
Each European taxpayer pays €270 per year into the EU budget. They deserve to see societal benefits in return - public money used for public goods. European funding should no longer be captured by small interest groups. In times of austerity, EU money has to deliver even more. Public money needs to be spent for the wider public interest. Protecting European and global natural resources and biodiversity and fighting climate change are vital to ensure a sustainable and prosperous economy and a healthy environment for citizens. The EU budget should also catalyse private investments to achieve those objectives.
The EU budget for 2014-2020 has not seen the profound transformation that was called for. While some funding lines have been improved, too much waste and perverse subsidies have been allowed to continue. That is why BirdLife and its partners are starting to rethink where this budget is going.
NABU (BirdLife in Germany) has therefore developed a discussion paper about the future of EU co-financing for nature and biodiversity action. Two models are being brought forward for discussion: The first model explores the establishment of a dedicated EU Environment Fund, the second a formalised, legally binding approach of earmarking budgets within existing funds and the introduction of co-management of these funds by environment authorities. The discussion paper is available in English and German. More information about NABU's work on this issue can be found here.
The paper has been presented, inter alia, at an event kindly hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union on 1 June 2015. The link to the event and all the presentations can be found here.
Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.