Billions of EU Funds Wasted on Dead-End Investments
Substantial environmental and social harm is being caused by controversial projects costing billions of euros of European Union (EU) money, according to research published Feb. 2 by Friends of the Earth Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network.1
The groups have mapped 33 harmful projects in Central and Eastern Europe with total costs of sixteen billion euros. The projects, which include highways passing through protected nature sites, waste incinerators and airports, are being paid for—or being considered for financial support in the future—by Cohesion Policy Funds in the current EU budget.2
The map includes projects from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Estonia.
The projects will cause damage such as increased pollution, loss of biodiversity, increased risk of flooding, and displacement of local communities.
“As we wait for the European Council and Parliament to have their say on the next European budget, this map shows that controversial projects are unfortunately not limited to a few isolated exceptions," said Markus Trilling, EU funds coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe and Bankwatch. "EU money has the potential to bring lots of benefits to central and eastern European countries but if nothing changes it will bring substantial environmental and social harm throughout the region. These projects are mistakes Europe cannot afford to make. Future legislation must specifically prohibit the use of Cohesion Policy funds for detrimental projects.”
The research shows that almost 6.5 billion euros has been spent on detrimental projects. Almost 5 billion euros are set to go the same route, and projects totaling another 5 billion are currently considered for financing in the seven central and eastern European countries.
“Money must no longer be squandered on such foolish investments,” said Trilling. “It is vital that the next one trillion euro EU budget offers possibilities for overcoming the current recession and de-carbonising economies. Courageous action is needed to overturn the legacy of bad planning and realise the beneficial potential of EU funds.”3
For more information, click here.
1. The publication contains a country listing of the projects, background descriptions and total amounts of EU Funds granted. The online version of the map is available by clicking here.
It offers the possibility to view the data by country, type of project, or size of investment.
The map is the fourth edition produced by CEE Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth Europe. The groups have been monitoring EU Structural and Cohesions fund spending on the ground in central and eastern Europe since 1997.
2. Cohesion Policy Funds amounted to 344 billion euros out of the total 975 billion euro EU budget for the 2007-2013 period. Read more about the EC’s legislative proposals for the new EU Budget by clicking here.
3. Read Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth Europe’s more detailed recommendations for EU regional funds 2014-2020 and how they can put Europe on a sustainable development path, ‘Funding Europe's future’ October 2011 by clicking here.
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By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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