MEPs back just shift towards green regions

EP is ready to start negotiations with the Council on JTF

Photo: EP Manolis Kefalogiannis.

Lawmakers adopted its position on the new Just Transition Fund (JTF), and are ready to start negotiations with the Council. The fund is part of the European Green Deal and will help regions relying on fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries adapt to the green economy.

EP also urged for a considerable increase in JTF resources from the EU long-term budget for 2021-2027. In January 2020, the Commission proposed creating the Just Transition Fund and in May, in the context of coronavirus pandemic, it increased the initially proposed budget for the fund from €7.5bn to €44.1bn, with €11.3bn from the EU budget and €32.8bn from the new Next Generation EU Recovery Fund.

Parliament is insisting to increase the part from the core budget to €25.4bn, beefing up the JTF to more than €58bn.

The money will be used for providing support to people, the economy and the environment.  A “Green Rewarding Mechanism” will be established, allowing 18% of the total JTF resources to be allocated to Member States that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions more quickly than others.

The EU is aiming, as part of the European Green Deal, to socio-economically transform regions relying on fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries and the JTF will become a key component of the EU’s cohesion policy, said rapporteur Manolis Kefalogiannis (EPP, GR). We are now ready to kick off inter-institutional negotiations, he announced highlighting that the Green Deal is an historic moment for Europe, “for all of Europe, not only parts of it”. No region, no European should feel forgotten, he underlined.

MEPs also said that a co-financing rate should be up to 85% of costs for eligible projects across the EU, and that there will be possibility to transfer resources from other cohesion funds on a voluntary basis.

The EP foresees broadening the scope of the fund, including microenterprises, sustainable tourism, social infrastructure, universities and public research institutions. Also in this line are energy storage technologies, low-emission district heating, smart and sustainable mobility, digital innovation, plus digital and precision farming, projects fighting energy poverty, together with culture, education and community building initiatives.

They want as well derogation for investments in activities related to natural gas, for regions heavily reliant on the extraction and combustion of coal, lignite, oil shale or peat, if they qualify as “environmentally sustainable” in accordance with the Taxonomy Regulation and comply with six additional cumulative conditions.

 At the same time, MEPs urged only 50% of the national allocation to be available for countries which have not yet committed to a 2050 national target for climate neutrality, until committing to this goal.

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