Practical options for climate change mainstreaming in the 2014-2020 EU budget

Climate change is among the key priorities for the 2014-2020 EU Multi-annual Financial Framework. The Commission has proposed that at least 20 per cent of the future EU budget shall target climate change activities. This will be achieved through the mainstreaming of climate obligations across different funding instruments inter alia Cohesion Policy and the Connecting Europe Facility. The legislative proposals on the separate funding instruments have included some provisions aimed to facilitate this mainstreaming. Specific ideas include a quantified earmarking, a requirement for tracking climate-related expenditure, the use of conditionality, etc.

Several questions arise:

  • Are the proposed provisions appropriate and sufficient to guarantee a robust policy framework that will deliver the necessary scale of funding and improve the performance of EU spending from the point of view of low carbon and climate resilient transformations?
  • How can these provisions be translated into specific mechanisms and tools for ensuring climate change mainstreaming in spending programmes and investment projects? and
  • What are the political constraints and implementation challenges of advancing such a policy framework in the final legislative packages?

To address these questions, on 1 February 2012, IEEP organised a policy dialogue workshop on ‘Practical options for climate change mainstreaming in the 2014-2020 EU budget’. The objective of the workshop was to bring together policy makers and stakeholders in a politically neutral setting, to provide a platform for discussing and sharing practical experiences on different approaches and tools for climate change mainstreaming in the future EU Cohesion Policy and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The methodologies for tracking climate change expenditure and reporting progress towards the commitment for targeting at least 20 per cent of the 2014-2020 EU Budget on climate change related activities were a key topic. The workshop was attended by participants from the European Commission, Member States, and other external experts.
The discussions at the workshop will be used to further develop a policy paper on practical ways of implementing climate mainstreaming in EU Cohesion Policy and the CEF. Some of the main findings and policy recommendations however could be useful in the context of other EU funding instruments. Similarly, while the focus is on climate change, many of the policy tools can also be applied to some extent in relation to other environmental issues such as biodiversity and resource efficiency.

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