Published Thursday, 12 April 2012

Walking the talk - practical options for making the 2014-2020 EU MFF deliver on climate change 

In its conclusions from 2 March 2012, the European Council has called for ‘rapid progress on the low-carbon 2050 strategy’, with a particular focus on the needs to mobilise sources for spending on climate change. The next EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) will be an important stepping stone in this regard. Better mainstreaming of climate change concerns in key EU funding instruments is a key objective of the Commission proposals as a way to deliver the proposed commitment for spending 20 per cent of the EU MFF on climate relevant activities. Cohesion Policy and the Connecting Europe Facility are of particular relevance, as they constitute the biggest spending block. How fit for purpose are the current proposals and what can be done to make them fully deliver on climate change?

This report provides a thorough examination of proposed Regulations on EU Cohesion Policy and the Connecting Europe Facility. It pays specific attention to the proposed ‘tracking’ of climate change expenditure (Rio Markers) as an important tool for climate mainstreaming. It finds that the proposed Regulations indicate the introduction of a number of positive developments and novel governance mechanisms for better mainstreaming of climate change concerns, among which provisions for thematic concentrations and ex-ante conditionalities.

However, the report identifies a number of challenges currently threatening the effectiveness of the climate mainstreaming approach, including lack of an effective implementation framework and operational clarity on some provisions. Up until now, there has not been an overall estimate of the proposed allocations for climate change relevant activities under the different funding instruments. This report delivers a preliminary estimate and identifies a worrying funding gap when compared to original aspirations. The report also puts forward recommendations on how to tackle outstanding challenges, particularly with regard to improving the methodology on tracking climate change expenditure and its application under the future Cohesion Policy and the Connecting Europe Facility