Blog 31 May 2021

Letter to Ursula Von Der Leyen

Brussels, 31 May 2021
Dear President Ursula von der Leyen
Dear Executive Vice-President Timmermans

EU Member States have been developing their National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) to decide how to spend the recovery funds over the next 7 years. Some countries already submitted their NRRPs to you for review, whilst others will do so in the coming weeks.

We are writing to you to highlight the discrepancy between the objectives of the ‘Next Generation EU’ fund and the NRRPs submitted by Poland and Romania. They lack ambition and resemble a rehashing of the old; prioritizing investment in fossil fuels and ignoring the impending crisis we face. If the European Commission approves the plans in their current form, then Poland and Romania will both fail to meet their climate or greenhouse gas emissions targets and kill any possibility that the EU will achieve climate neutrality by 2050. We request you either properly amend, and if impossible, reject both plans as they pose a risk to the EU to fulfill its climate and environmental targets.

Please find below the key discrepancies found in the abovementioned NRRPs:

  • In terms of energy, although the EC recommends funding renewable energies to achieve a 38-40% share in the EU energy mix, the Government of Romania does not incorporate investments towards their development and deployment accordingly, settling for a 34% renewable energy target instead. Furthermore, both countries incorporate throughout their NRRPs investments in fossil fuels (natural gas) and their distribution networks. In addition, Poland’s NRRP contains provisions related to coal that directly contradicts the objectives of the EU’s climate policy on the phasing out of hard coal mining by 2049.
  • In regards to transportation, most of the envisioned investments are allocated towards fossil fuel inductive infrastructure (e.g. large-scale highways and airports) whereas there are insufficient concrete programs to decarbonise the current and future mobility needs of the population.
  • In respect to biodiversity and water management, both countries open up the possibility to allocate resources for the alteration or destruction of natural watercourses by allowing their regularization for flooding control purposes, although the EU Biodiversity Strategy proposes river renaturation as green infrastructure for the same purpose.

Also, and of outermost importance, there are no concrete indicators nor procedures to assess the impact and progress of investments. The NRRPs do not include a set of climate and environmental conditions that a given investment should fulfill in order to be eligible to access EU funding. In this sense, it is not possible to determine to what extent individual actions, or the NRRP as a whole, will translate into the achievement of the strategic objectives set by the Government, or the (climate/environmental) objectives set by the EU.

Therefore we strongly conclude that both countries’ NRRPs do not take into account the scale and pace of changes taking place in the EU and thus they will not be able to meet the targets set by the EC, including the need to achieve a GHG emission reduction target of 55% by 2030, the decarbonisation of the economy, and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

We are calling on you to properly review the NRRPs submitted by Poland and Romania and to ensure the necessary changes so that both plans are ambitious and in line with the objectives of the ‘Next Generation EU’ fund. With 93% of Europeans of the view that climate change is a serious problem, and 92% demanding climate neutrality across the bloc by 2030, you have both the public will and their purse on your side to do this.

We stand ready to immediately assist and work with the Commission and the Member States on this and would like to discuss the way forward with you at your earliest convenience.

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