After adopting in December 2019 an overarching strategy to make the EU the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050, the European Commission has now unveiled parts of its plan to finance this ambition.
Elements of this Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to mobilize 1 trillion Euros (!) of public and private money over the next decade are obviously the use of the EU budget to ensure that it will promote sustainable activities, the loans from the EIB which pledges to become the EU climate bank by supporting sustainable investments and stopping investing in carbon-intensive activities along with a new EU fund to help regions that are heavily reliant on carbon- intensive industrial facilities, employment in mining of coal and lignite, peat, oil shale.
In essence, this Fund will be complementary to the European Structural and Investment Funds and provided they submit a just transition plan, including how declining sectors will scale down their activities and how the transforming sectors will develop, they will be able to finance :
(a) productive investments in SMEs, including start-ups, leading to economic diversification and reconversion;
(b) investments in the creation of new firms, including through business incubators and consulting services;
(c) investments in research and innovation activities and fostering the transfer of advanced technologies;
(d) investments in the deployment of technology and infrastructures for affordable clean energy, in greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy;
(e) investments in digitalisation and digital connectivity;
(f) investments in regeneration and decontamination of sites, land restoration and repurposing projects;
(g) investments in enhancing the circular economy, including through waste prevention, reduction, resource efficiency, reuse, repair and recycling;
(h) upskilling and reskilling of workers;
(i) job-search assistance to jobseekers;
(j) active inclusion of jobseekers;
(k) technical assistance.
The exact amount available for this Sustainable Europe Investment Plan will be determined by the ongoing negotiations on the EU budget.
And what about the link with social policies ?
The just transition fund is seen as a way to guarantee a fair transition of the EU economy towards carbon neutrality. This is also a important part of the social policies announced by the European Commission. Other elements are:
- Update the Skills Agenda for Europe in the first quarter of 2020, including a proposal for a European Vocational Education and Training (VET) recommendation.
- A Green Paper on ageing in the fourth quarter of 2020
- A guidance on energy poverty in 2020