In her speech to the European Parliament on 26 March 2020, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen announced a series of packages to support the healthcare systems of EU countries. EUR 6 billion euro in total has been dedicated to financing the Emergency Support Instrument and RescEU, from which EUR 3 billion will be financed directly by the EU budget while the remaining EUR 3 billion will come from the Member States.
The Emergency Support Instrument will enable the European Commission to procure directly needed medical goods and services on behalf of the Member States. It will finance and coordinate the transport of medical equipment and patients. It also will support the scaling up of testing efforts. The RescEU initiative will help secure ventilators and personal protective equipment and mobilize medical teams for assistance to the most vulnerable, including refugee camps. The first country to receive aid was Romania.
In addition, the EU is funding safety nets worth EUR 540 billion to be used to support jobs and workers, businesses, and the Member States. With the support of the Bank of the European Union, the European Investment Bank, the EU is also managing a pan-European guarantee fund to support companies and businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises with up to EUR 200 billion of loans.
The above actions have been complemented by a joint commitment to promote research on COVID-19 with more than 140 million euro dedicated to research funds to develop treatments and vaccines.
Given the challenging situation both the EU and its Members States are facing, a number of questions have arisen. What about climate change? How will the current situation affect EU commitments to the Paris Agreement? Will Brussels keep its promises regarding the implementation of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package? The package consists of a set of legislative acts that will bring considerable benefits from consumer, environmental and economic perspectives. It emphasizes energy efficiency, a growth in the production and use of renewables, better governance of the EU’s Energy Union, more energy rights for consumers, and a smarter and more efficient energy market. It also underlines EU leadership in tackling global warming and provides an important contribution to the block’s long-term strategy of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
It is now up to the Member States to ensure that the Clean Energy Package is fully implemented and transposed into national laws to provide the energy industry with a stable legal environment. The ability and willingness of countries to adopt the Clean Energy Package may be compromised by COVID-19.
Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s Green Deal Chief confirmed that every euro the EU will be spending on economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis will be linked to the EU green transition. Contrary to Timmerman’s position, there is rising push-back in some countries against the idea of the green stimulus. For instance, there are voices in the ruling CDU party in Germany, the party of Angela Merkel, describing the green stimulus as financially not viable, especially during the time of COVID-19. This is due to the large investments in clean technologies that are required.
It seems that a new struggle between Brussels and EU Member States will arise in the coming months.
Activity Rating: ** Standing Still
Leaders in Brussels still maintain the commitment of the EU to implement new climate change mitigation policies and strategies that fulfill the EU commitment to the Paris Agreement. However, without the full support of EU member governments, the European Commission will be in a weak position. The COVID-19 crisis is hindering the willingness of these governments to fully commit by taking further policy and investment risks, thus, bringing more uncertainty to the implementation of EU policies such as Clean Energy for All.
Dear Mr. Frans Timmermans,
Green Deal Chief, European Commission
Climate Scorecard would like to express our concern regarding the status of the Green Deal and the Clean Energy for All policy given the current COVID-19 crisis. We are aware of the difficult situation each EU Member is facing and the negative implication of COVID-19 on the economies of Europe. We strongly believe that climate change should not be a victim of COVID-19. Rather it could be a challenging but ideal opportunity for the EU and its Member States to restructure and push forward for the integration of a clean energy transition as part of efforts to relaunch the economy. We would like to see the EU maintain its commitment to the Clean Energy for All program and other climate change policies.
With our respectful and best regards,
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
This post was submitted by Climate Scorecard EU Manager Ibrahim Abdel-Ati