The budget of the European Union amounts to hundreds of billions of euros of investments for implementing European policies. Its impact on development inside and outside Europe is significant. But taxpayers' money is not delivering what it could and should for the citizens of Europe.
Friends of the Earth Europe takes action to reform the EU budget. The budget should promote the transition towards a just society that guarantees the well-being of citizens in a globally responsible way, within the ecological limits of the planet.
The EU budget - known as the Multiannual Financial Framework - is the EU's decisive financial tool for implementing its policies within Europe and beyond. It has an especially big impact on agriculture, regional development, research and innovation, and nature protection.
€420 billion has been earmarked for regional development between 2014 and 2020. It remains to be seen whether the funds will be spent on progressive policies for citizens and the environment, or whether it will simply be new money for old ideas.
The EU budget should go towards tackling climate change, creating green jobs, and halting the decline of biodiversity and the depletion of our planet's resources. But, currently, the money is much too often spent on perverse subsidies that put further pressure on the environment and block Europe from moving to a sustainable development path.
Need for reform
Climate change and destruction of the environment are challenges that need a pan-European approach. Friends of the Earth Europe believes the EU budget needs to be reformed to make sure it is used to implement Europe's agreed priorities in these fields and to meet environmental targets.
We think the EU budget needs to prioritise three key environmental issues: climate change,biodiversity loss, and resources use.
Climate change and energy
The EU budget should be spent on ensuring Europe's transition to a sustainable decarbonised society. This can be achieved through energy savings, the decentralisation of energy supply, and increased renewable energy. The budget can also help ensure ecosystem resilience, which means ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change such as the restoration of flood plains to maintain the natural absorption capacity of free flowing rivers.
The budget should go towards saving energy and decreasing our dependency on non-renewable energies, creating long-term jobs, and helping to reduce inequalities in our society.
Given Europe's historical responsibility for causing climate change, the EU budget should also go towards fulfilling Europe's international obligation to support climate mitigation and adaptation outside its borders in developing countries. New and additional financial support should be provided to developing countries to tackle climate change and its consequences.
Biodiversity and ecosystems
Preserving biodiversity is crucial if we are to ensure we continue to have clean water, fertile soil and fresh air. The EU's responsibility should be to maintain or enhance natural diversity for future generations.
In its commitments to stop biodiversity loss, the EU budget should provide the financial means to reach the agreed EU 2020 biodiversity headline target, to achieve effective implementation of relevant legislation (such as Natura 2000), and ensure the proper integration of biodiversity preservation in other sectors (such as agriculture and fisheries). It should also provide increased support to biodiversity protection at the international level.
To end Europe's overconsumption of the earth's scarce natural resources and so to enable us to live within the limits of the planet, the EU should use its limited budget to drive reductions in the use of resources and dependency on imports. At the same time money should go to increasing recycling and repairing damage in the fields of waste, water, materials and land.
A greener EU budget for the future of Europe
We are campaigning for reform of the following EU budget lines:
• Common Agricultural Policy – should reward farmers for the delivery of public goods, such as an attractive countryside rich in wildlife
• Structural and Cohesion Funds – should foster ecological sustainable development and the transition to a low-energy-consumption and resource-efficient society
• Transport funding – should only target plans and projects which actively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain green infrastructures
• LIFE programme (the single EU instrument directly allocated to the environment) – should reach at least 1 per cent of the EU budget.
• European research funding – should be refocused on delivering breakthroughs on the core challenges
• Marine and fisheries funding – should ensure the protection of both the EU's and the global marine environment by supporting a sustainability shift in fisheries
• External dimension – environmental sustainability must be made central to all external dimension policies and spending, along with a significant increase in financial support for sustainable development in the least developed countries