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EU provided 1.5 bln euros for gas projects in Poland and Romania since 2014, reports says

Since 2014, more than 1.5 billion euros in EU funds have been provided to Poland and Romania for natural gas projects. The two governments have allocated even larger sums for the current EU budget period, despite the bloc’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report by climate think-tank CEE Bankwatch Network.

“Governments seeking to use EU public money for fossil gas projects that are likely to operate for the next 30-40 years, well beyond the point when Europe needs to be free of fossil fuels, are betraying their own citizens,” said Gligor Radečić, Gas Campaign Lead at CEE Bankwatch Network and co-author of the report. “Any fossil gas project enabled by EU funds necessarily comes at the expense of desperately needed investments in energy efficiency and renewables in Poland, Romania and throughout Europe. The European Commission needs to urgently initiate a revision of existing EU funding rules to stop any use of EU public money for new gas projects.”

Programmes such as the EU cohesion policy funds, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the Modernisation Fund aim to aid EU countries in improving their economic position, among other things, by upgrading energy infrastructure. Spending plans in Romania and Poland for the period 2021 to 2027, analysed by CEE Bankwatch, risk deepening the fossil gas addiction of these countries, in turn undermining their energy transition, the think-tank said.

In Romania, the authorities have allocated roughly 1.7 billion euros in EU funds for new fossil gas projects, such as a gas-fired unit at the Ișalnița power plant and the expansion of the Bilciuresti underground gas storage facility, CEE Bankwatch noted. In Poland, fossil gas projects such as the new liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Gdansk, new transmission and distribution networks, and subsidy schemes for gas boilers in buildings could receive over 2 billion euros in EU money, the think-tank added.

“Any project or scheme that adds new gas consumption blatantly contradicts the EU’s policy attempts to steeply decrease gas use in the EU before 2030,” the report read. 

In a press release, the think-tank said that Europe needs a “dramatic increase” in capital spending on sustainable renewables, electric grid improvements and measures to reduce energy demand that could help tackle both the climate crisis and the energy crunch. To achieve this, the group urged EU policymakers to “urgently update” the legislative framework governing EU funds to exclude investments in gas schemes and projects.  

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