Time to iron out the EU budget differences – with a green shirt!

The EU budget summit, the much-anticipated showdown featuring Europe’s 27 member states, the European Parliament, the European Commission and European Council president Herman van Rompuy over how much EU funding – and for what – is to be spent in the 2014-20 budgetary period, is now on. And all the talk is of what exactly to wear to this event.

posted on the Bankwatch blog by Greig Aitken, Bankwatch Mail editor

Here’s Alexander Stubb, Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs, tweeting on his way to the summit in Brussels:

Flying to Brussels for what is hopefully the final stretch of EU budget negotiations 2014-20. Ironed only four shirts. Too optimistic? # MFF
@alexstubb
Alexander Stubb

These are not mere sartorial concerns, alas. Several weeks ago, Herman van Rompuy himself tweeted that this summit was shaping up to be the first ‘three shirter’ under his presidency. By this he was referring to the possibility that the scheduled two day summit – Thursday and Friday – would stretch into Saturday, requiring an extra shirt for strung-out summit participants.

Now there is intense speculation that, because of the huge differences of opinion ranged around the budget (how much total funding should be made available being the main obstacle), this budget summit could well become a ‘four-shirter’, ie stretching into Sunday. Apparently the building hosting the summit has instructed its restaurant to be ready for business on Saturday night.

A lot of talk about shirts, then, and so far the first sign of summit ‘shirtiness’ came this morning from UK prime minister David Cameron as he arrived for a bi-lateral ‘confessional’ (more EU summit jargon, alas, but ‘confessional’ just means ‘talks’ – there could, though, be connotations of divine inspiration being sought to ensure a budget deal) with van Rompuy.

That’s why today we’re encouraging Mr Cameron and Europe’s other leaders to make life easier for themselves – not to mention also for people living in Europe and our collective environment – by donning a green shirt.

Make the EU Budget Summit a green shirter

Bankwatch and our campaign colleagues are calling for 25 percent of the EU budget for 2014-2020 to go to tackling climate change and securing green economic dividends for all in Europe.

No less a figure than Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission, this week set out the case for significant green spending to feature in the next round of EU spending – it’s well worth a quick read. The gains to be had from better green spending are many and, crucially, they are sustainable.

Adding extra urgency to the need for a rigorously green budget deal this weekend has been a string of highly alarming reports that have been published by major international bodies in the last week.

The International Energy Agency, the World Bank and the United Nations (as well as separately the UN Environment Programme) have all issued dire warnings about the rising rate of global carbon emissions and atmospheric warming. In tandem they have issued strong calls for major new investment money to be targeted especially at energy efficiency measures and clean renewable energy technologies.

For Europeans, the starkest warning comes this morning, just as the EU summit gets underway. The BBC reports that climate change is evident across Europe, citing a new report from the European Environment Agency out today.

The agency’s director, Jacqueline McGlade is quoted – in black and white terms – thus:

“Every indicator we have in terms of giving us an early warning of climate change and increasing vulnerability is giving us a very strong signal … It is across the board … it is in human health aspects, in forests, sea levels, agriculture, biodiversity – the signals are coming in from right across the environment.”

This is grim news. But just fancy – there is an investment tool designed to serve Europe that is under discussion right now. It too goes across the board, covering EU agriculture, transport, energy, health and a host of other sectors. It’s called the EU budget. Now is the time for Europe’s member states to set aside their budget differences and at least come together on ensuring that the future budget has green, climate-friendly spending at its heart.

You can get up to date info and gossip from the EU summit via @ceebankwatch and @SustEUfunds. If you’re using Twitter yourself, look out for the hashtags #euco and #MFF , and of course you make a good green case yourself by using #wellspentEU.

3 Responses to Time to iron out the EU budget differences – with a green shirt! »»

  1. Comment by Peter | 2012/11/24 at 01:24:02

    Sirs in my Company (which for reasons of probity we are not permitted to divulge its name initially and up-front in this response as it contravenes the notes hereto referenced in responding to BlogActiv statements) we have been striving forth to confirm that that which we have always known regarding Environmentally Acceptable (or Green) programmes and projects can be very affordable and as a consequence they would meet the agenda within the European Union [EU] as creditable for meeting the aims to meet and satisfy “the need for a rigorously green budget deal.” It is for this reason therefore that from the perspective of our Company working in Biofuels manufactured from Non-Food based sources of Biomass – including discards – which we wish to report our developments here.

    Although there have been one or two “indirect releases” about our programme we can announce that we are on the threshold of putting in place a series of developments that are both Environmentally Acceptable and Very Affordable. These programmes and projects which have been thoroughly audited and vetted and are confirmed basis for saying that they are regarded as being Eminently Affordable by the orders of magnitude in terms of Capital Expenditure [CAPEX] they are around 40% or less of the equivalent of other thermal waste processing plants that are designed and built to similar and equally defined parameters as well as being competitive with land fill costs and hold forth the issues of Zero Waste to Land Fill. Thus when it comes to the notion that such programmes in the region of being “Green” should always bear the impression of being “expensive” we have had confirmed that this is wrong and a piece of misinformation. It is therefore relevant, Sirs, to point out that hitherto in the EU that although we have not gained significant direct publicity about this work first hand, this information has been alluded to by other correspondents to both the EU publicity portals of EurActiv and BlogActiv over the past few years. Our programmes and projects we have been gradually gathering pace in the area of making the Renewable Fuels (or Biofuels) be they Ethanol or Butanol from Non-Food based Biomass as in those materials that are generally discarded after use. Such programmes include Malta by Applied Biofuels for Hardenberg as Genesyst Nederlands Bv and Yorkshire as Genesyst UK Ltd. These projects are the spear-head of our developments in the EU and Middle East and North Africa [MENA] areas where we have brought up to date the age-old Dilute-Acid Hydrolysis procedures (originally developed in the early to mid 19th Century) making it continuous and thus more efficient and economical. It uses the gravitypressurevessel under international patents from the original founder James Titmas of USA.

    By adopting this publicity stance these projects are garnering great interest in the financial world of investors during the past three years or so as a result of beavering away and devising innovative ways to financing that is encouraged because these projects do not entail huge investments. Such developments do incur costs now running at over €10+ Millions from our own. We have committed ourselves to approach the Renewable fuels industry from a different direction to others by targeting Non-Governmental or Institutional Investors for the simple reason that it takes too long for those making investment decisions.

    Do you think that we are alone here? Not so, for we have colleagues working on developing Macro-Algae farming techniques to produce Biomass (again meeting the ideals of Non-Food sources) and they have been developing this procedure from within the Mediterranean Area and they will be supplying to us a Biomass free of lignin and from naturally-selected strains which will deliver yields which are between 5 and 10 times that obtained from Sugar Cane/Beet/Sweet Sorghum or Wheat and the Grain Crops! (remember that this has been the bane of contention in the debates railed over using Food for Fuels, upon which we have added our voices in lectures since 2002!

    However our developments do not only restrict us to Biofuels, as we are looking at the latest versions of Wind Generation and Photovoltaic systems which also are much more efficient and cost effective to the same degree as reported above.

    So in your article – Bank Watch – in the BlogActiv here we agree with you that this is an area of excellent need that the EU should welcome and we will be party to.

  2. Comment by Karel | 2012/11/25 at 23:30:56

    Yes, I agree the EU must Go for Green Policies.
    By choosing those such s suggested here by Peter you will be able to cut back on the massive tax bills each country is being faced with managing various environmental works to meet Directives at a fraction of the costs as well as create huge numbers of jobs.
    I have been watching the news regarding the impression that buying Green costs money and this is nonsense. Just take a look at the issues uncovered here: an incineration projet for a major City which could treat 600,000 tonnes per year is shown to cost less than €120 million by converting the residues to make biofuels compared to almost €400 million by the proposition quoted for Dublin. Now another project in the city of Sofia (may city) will also be built at around a quarter of the costs and meet all the environmental targets from now onwards at once by using this same system. And that is waste management alone? Why is it that these cost so much? The simple reason is that the EU for their funding issues seem to think that we should spend mega amounts of money on these projects just because they are used to. Nonsense the company in Malta is spear-heading the way and all despite the fact that they seem to have to go and get financing from private banks and the likes. There is money to be made here and the EIB for one must be made to address the folly of there ways.
    But it is not all about waste. The photovoltaics programme we hear of being developed through the back of ultra-thin pained films is another. This project was alerted to us in Sofia last year and we had wondered where it had gone and now we hear that it is scheduled to be developed in Malta. With a system that would cost about 1/3rd that of the current systems let’s see that encouraged in the EU.
    And the same with these new wind turbines and sea turbines.
    We must go for green in the Eu and we must ensure that these new entrepreneurial companies are given all the help that they need from the banks and institutions before they are yet again lost to China.

  3. Comment by Victoria | 2012/11/26 at 18:24:31

    We must agree with the issues here for the very platform of understanding the moves towards Green or Environmental issues is fundamental.

    I have read and interviewed many people across the EU and it is very plain that Going for Green is envisioned as being an expensive option, whereas in these records it is not and indeed need not be so.

    Every time I read about the issues of environmental projects across the EU and elsewhere (and you cite the MENA area as being one such area) I come across the nonsensical issues which have also been raised by Bankwatch over the costs of some of these Green Projects. The World Bank and the EIB/EBRD consistently seem to ignore the facts here, for the programmes and projects which they invariably support always (AND LET’S NOT MINCE WORDS HERE, ALWAYS) COST MORE THAN IS NECESSARY. It is evident from what we see from here in Italy that the idea that Green Projects Cost Less is an anethema to the facts. They sponsot Incineration Programmes using Municipal Solid Waste, knowing full well that their advisors have proposed the most expensive options regardless and then the countries and municipalities that are targeted fo the aid and help have no option but to agree and buy them. Well what a nonsense this is. By adopting the alterantive process-routes like the one referred to here the most satisfactory solution, in this case making Biofuels like Ethanol or Butanol from Municipal Solid Waste need cost barely a 1/3rd of the equivalent of incineration (and the waste-2-energy and energy-from-waste or gasification or pyrolysis and plasma) processes and have none of the horrible left-overs of toxic by-products that are either discharged to the atmosphere or to be disposed of.

    The EU – Gentlemen and Ladies – take note here that the Public want you on their side as being thoughtful in taxation policies and thoughtful in green policies and agendas, and here there is a way to be both at the same time. We as tax-payers are fed up to our teeth with the enforcement of green agendas that cost us more than is necessary and now that we know that these can only cost a1/3rd of the current budgets then we must have them.

    Mr Oettinger and others right up to Mr Barroso must be alerted here that the way forward is to “go for Green” in the EU as Karel has indicated and as Peter before has also stated but be realsitic about it…not at any price. You have an indication heree that there are examples in the waste and biofuels industry under the genesyst development spear-headed in Malta the Uk and Holland and you must let us here in Italy and France and Germany Spain Portugal Greece etc etc be equally aware that you support such moves. To date you have hidden behind the coat tales of advisors and consultants who always report back on the most expensive options ever and then you in the EU (or to be very blunt WE THE EU TAX PAYERS) have to fund them from the core funds whether that means restructuring funds or through “convenient funding mechanisms like FinanceDesign-Build and Operate mechanisms – euphemistically lcalled PPP or PFI etc – these long term borrowing programmes that are adding misery to the existing refunding scenarios for Greece Italy Spain Prtugal and Ireland. And here is an example we all know that you are aware of…the Dublin Incineration project which is for funding and is to treat 600,000 tonnes per year of municipal solid waste and cost €400 Million. This just cannot be afforded by the Country and the advisors for and the City and the Government are playing the game for as long as it takes so that the EU will step in and eventually fund it. The Tax Payers in Ireland have been bamboozled with dognatic words to say this is the only and best option here: no no No it is not! The best option confirmed by academics in Ireland is to make ethanol from the route suggested here. And the same is the case for York in England. And the same is the case for Sofia in Bulgaria and now we hear all over the EU and beyond. Wake up EU to this obvious call.

    Wake up also to these other exciting developments and forget about passing €Billions to companies like Ineous or BP or RWE or EDEF or ENEL or DONG etc to support massive CCS projects which ought to be dealt with by those comapnies. Put realism in place now and agree with Bankwatch.


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