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The EU Budget 2022 could give boost to green transition, but there’s still long way to go


On Tuesday, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn presented the European draft budget for 2022 to us in the European Committee on Budgets in the European Parliament. To spend EU tax money in the best way in times of Covid-19 and climate crisis is an important task.

The draft budget 2022 foresees commitments totalling €311.3 billion. Of the €311.3 billion, €167.8 billion come from the regular budget (which roughly represents 1.13% of the EU’s GNI) and €143.5 billion are from the Corona recovery program. This is a slight decrease compared with the commitments of €333.4 billion made in 2021.

This draft budget is a good start, but will need detailed analysis and some strong adjustments in the upcoming negotiations to be truly a budget that leads to a greener, more inclusive and more innovative EU.

In times of the Green Deal, for the Greens/EFA, the EU budget 2022 must have three clear priorities: climate protection, biodiversity and research and development. The timeframe to reach at least the Paris climate goals is getting shorter and shorter. We need a budget that really puts the Green Deal at the centre to at least reduce our CO2 emissions by 55% until 2030. The European Parliament demands a 60% reduction while science actually demands a reduction of 65% which is also the position of the Greens/EFA.

In the current draft budget, we see welcomed increases like for instance with the innovation programme Horizon Europe. The European Commission plans an increase of 5.8% to €12.2 billion, which is also largely due to the negotiation success of the European Parliament and the Greens last December. For the Greens, it is key that start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises should particularly benefit from the EU innovation programmes. We need strong innovative research and development to be able to decarbonize the economy, to green the European industry and to reach climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 at the latest. The green transition will also enable job creation and growth to fight the economic consequences of the corona pandemic.

Other EU programmes that are particularly important to the Greens/EFA are also strengthened in the draft budget. Erasmus+, for example, is to be increased to €3.3 billion, which represents an increase of 26.4% compared to the previous year. This is really important to us since the mobility of young people and intercultural exchange has suffered dearly during the pandemic.

We also strongly support the increase in funding for Creative Europe, which particularly benefits the cultural and creative sector, which was hit hard by the Corona crisis. In the draft budget, the funding is increased by 30.9% year-on-year to €401 million.

On the other hand, the budget for Frontex was increased by 49.7% to €758 million. We Greens will fight that this money also will go into more staff to monitor fundamental rights as agreed in the budget guidelines of the European Parliament.

Since the 2022 EU budget is embedded in the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the budget must follow the rules of the MFF.

Enshrined in the MFF, the “do-no-harm” principle ensures that no EU money will flow into projects that are harmful to the climate, and the rule of law mechanism now makes sanctions for violations of the rule of law possible.

Moreover, the MFF rules demand that at least 30% of the budget is spent on climate protection. This year, due to the Corona recovery programme, the climate quota will reach almost 54%. This is in line with our Green demand for at least 50% climate spending. However, once the Corona recovery programme ends, a much lower climate quota is expected in the coming years. We will continue to fight for at least half of the budget to be allocated to climate protection.

Another key issue for us is the biodiversity spending quota. Experts are widely in agreement that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected and we need to protect both to save our ecosystems. Therefore, we welcome the 8.26% quota for biodiversity in the draft budget, which is a very good starting point. However, since an updated biodiversity tracking methodology is not in place yet, this is an ex-ante estimate based on the old methodology.

The main political battle for biodiversity in the budget will be fought in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), where over 70% of the biodiversity-related spending are accounted for. In total, the CAP accounts for €53.0 billion. If we are to reach a biodiversity spending quota of 10% by 2026 as agreed in the MFF, we must do everything we can to realize an ecological reform, otherwise, the spending quotas will be very difficult to meet.

The next procedural steps for the budget are clear. First, the Council adopts its position on the budget and then the European Parliament decides on its opinion on the budget. Then, conciliation negotiations start usually in late autumn to achieve a compromise between European Parliament and Council, which is then approved by the co-legislators.

 In these negotiations, we Greens will fight hard to make sure that the final EU budget 2022 meets the high standards of the climate targets and supports the socio-ecological transformation.


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