50% for nature & climate: Will the European Commission put sustainability at the core of the next EU budget?
On 2 May, the European Commission is expected to publish its legislative proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – the next EU budget for the period post 2020. The upcoming MFF will define the spending priorities for the EU for seven years. By defining which areas the EU should invest in, the MFF reflects the Union’s priorities and serves as a budgetary planning as well as an important policy making tool.
The Commission proposal will represent a first crucial step in defining the next EU budget, and it will then be debated at the highest political levels with the Member States and European Parliament.
In its own initiative report adopted in March, the European Parliament had highlighted the need to bring the EU budget in line with the EU’s international commitments on sustainable development, environment, biodiversity and climate change, and voted to double the funding of the LIFE Programme.
What is WWF advocating for?
WWF has long criticised the favouring of economic aspects over social and environmental matters in the current EU budget, combined with a lack of policy coherence across different sectors. As example, the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) contributes to maintaining unsustainable farming practices, increasing pressure on nature and climate, depleting the natural resources, and polluting our rivers and lakes. This directly undermines EU targets on biodiversity, freshwater and its commitment to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies. Equally, although some progress has been made on mainstreaming climate and environment issues in EU external financing instruments, more resources must be dedicated to nature and climate action, as these are critical for achieving the SDGs globally.
The Commission proposal will be a critical sign of its willingness (or lack thereof) to deliver on the EU’s international commitments on climate, environment, nature and sustainable development.
We call for all programmes and funding instruments of the new budget to be aligned with international commitments such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
WWF also pushes for:
- a mandatory spending target of 50% for climate and nature; the current MFF included a 20% target for climate spending, but it is crucial to increase this and also include a dedicated target for nature conservation spending;
- mainstreaming environmental and climate objectives in all future financing instruments; the budget must support efforts in the EU to limit the rise in average global temperature to 1.5 degrees, and enable a people-centred and just transition to a low carbon economy;
- a complete phase-out of environmentally harmful subsidies, including for agriculture, fossil fuels etc;
- an increase in funding for the Financial Instrument to the Environment (LIFE) – the only EU funding instrument solely dedicated to environment and climate actions - from 0.3% today to at least 1% of the total budget and at least 50% of the LIFE budget dedicated to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives (including Natura 2000).
- The CAP must be reformed towards a fair, effective and efficient farming policy which has as its core objective to facilitate the transition towards sustainable food and farming systems in Europe. At least 50% of CAP funds should be ring-fenced for dedicated financing of actions related to environment, nature conservation and climate.
- Increasing investments for climate and environment-related objectives across future EU External Financing Instruments through targeted expenditure (50% spending target) as well as by ensuring the legal obligation to mainstream climate and environmental issues throughout future instruments is maintained
- Keep or increase funding for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), but make financial aid conditional to the sustainable management of the marine environment. EMFF should also include dedicated funds for biodiversity and marine protected areas under Natura 2000
Andrea Kohl, acting Director of the WWF European Policy Office, said:
“The EU must put its money where its mouth is. The next budget will be the ultimate test of the EU’s willingness to deliver on its international commitments on climate, environment, biodiversity and sustainable development. In order to achieve these, a re-balancing of environmental, social and economic aspects is needed, with sustainability mainstreamed into all relevant programmes and instruments. This is why we are calling for a mandatory spending target of 50% for climate and nature.“
Senior Forest Policy Officer & Coordinator EU Budget, WWF European Policy Office
+32 485 843 144
Communications Director, WWF European Policy Office
+32 473 947 966