MEPs back ringfencing € 5 bln of Juncker Plan for energy efficiency
By a single vote, MEPs passed an amendment ringfencing up to EUR 5 bln of Juncker Plan money for energy efficiency projects.
The unexpected victory means Kathleen Van Brempt, a Belgian Socialist, now has the mandate to negotiate a dedicated efficiency fund with the Council of Ministers.
“It will be a tough battle,” Van Brempt, of the Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee told EurActiv.
She is the lead MEP on the ITRE’s report on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which is the legislation putting the Juncker investment package into practice.
The plan foresees EUR 16 bln of EU money and EUR 5 bln of European Investment Bank funds being used as investor risk guarantees, to unlock EUR 315 bln public and private investment over the next three years.
It was widely thought that the push to earmark funds in the EFSI would fail. The EFSI is the legislation putting the Juncker Plan into practice.
The European Commission, which opposes a ringfence, sits in on the talks to help broker a deal. Both Council and Parliament must agree an identical bill before it becomes law.
MEPs also backed amendments safeguarding research funding for programmes like Horizon2020 being used for EFSI-supported projects. The European Commission proposed a cut of EUR 2.7 bln in Horizon2020 from 2015 until 2020.
“Our researchers, our universities around the EU, need this money if we want to keep our future-oriented vision and to enhance competitiveness and global strength,” Van Brempt said.
On Monday, EIB Vice-President Jonathan Taylor told EurActiv the EIB did not have a formal position on the idea of ringfencing funds. But, in general, it was desirable to have as much flexibility as possible to avoid the risk of funds being stranded if there were not enough high-quality products to invest in.