The MEPs voted with a large majority to support stronger sustainability safeguards, called for projects to respect environmental laws and to be in line with the greenhouse gas reduction target for transport of 60% by 2050 compared to 1990. MEPs also called for a 10% ‘bonus’ to co-financing rates for projects offering synergies between clean energy and transport.
Yet at the same time MEPs also voted to weaken the Commission proposal to make it easier to spend EU funds from the Connecting Europe Facility on airports and road projects. MEPs also added several controversial new ‘priorities’ to the annexes of both regulations, including airports and highways in Spain and port and airport developments in the UK and on Greek, Italian and Spanish islands. The committee also warned that the list need not be considered closed, and even more priorities may even be added to the wish list during negotations with the Council and Commission next year.
Markus Trilling, EU funds coordinator for CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “It looks like Christmas has come early for the transport sector, with today’s votes unfortunately offering something for everyone, whether or not they’ve been naughty or nice. We applaud the MEPs for setting stricter criteria for financial and environmental sustainability. But the long wish list of priorities contradicts these aims.”
Nina Renshaw, transport programme manager at T&E added: “Given the limited EU funds for transport, the Parliament is writing blank cheques for a long list of projects that governments won’t be able to cash. When it comes to allocating funds to projects, something will have to give. The sensible criteria that the MEPs called for will be a vital tool in selecting only the smartest clean transport projects.”