The EU’s Cohesion policy aims to help poorer nations fund projects that narrow the economic gap with their wealthier neighbours, but they have been criticised for the past 20 years for steering too much money into road and aviation projects and not enough into rail, ports and inland waterways. Now the Commission says at least 20% of the 2014-2020 EU budget (around €200 billion) should be spent on climate-related activities, including more sustainable transport.
The Institute of European Environmental Policy (IEEP) has published three recent reports on EU policy on Cohesion Fund spending, and the third of them, entitled ‘Walking the Talk’, says the proposed figures for the future Cohesion Policy and the Connecting Europe Facility (formerly TEN-T) still do not favour climate-friendly transport enough. It indicates that the Commission’s proposals contain a number of helpful ways of using Cohesion Funds in a more environmental way, but the concrete plans still fall well short of its 20% commitment.
It also says that, based on past experience, Cohesion Policy member states tend to favour road building over rail and water transport, so with roads still eligible for Cohesion Policy money, the risk that EU climate objectives will be undermined by Cohesion Policy spending remains strong.