Agreement reached on ‘greenest budget’ in EU history

The European Parliament has secured an increase of over €500m in funding for climate change in next year’s EU budget, under a compromise deal reached on Monday evening.

Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for budget and human resources (picture: European Union) Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for budget and human resources (picture: European Union)

Delegations from the European Parliament, Commission and Council finally managed to put an end to an institutional spat that could have required negotiators to restart the process from scratch if a breakthrough had not been reached by midnight.

Under the agreement, the 2020 budget will be €850m higher than the initial proposal made by the Commission, the biggest net increase in the current long-term budget, as Jan Van Overtveldt, the chair of the Parliament’s budget committee, observed. Of that extra funding, €500m relates to climate action. 

The overall 2020 EU budget has been set at €169bn in commitments (money that can be agreed in contracts) and €154bn in payments (money that will be paid out). Some 21% of the budget will go to climate change measures. 

The LIFE programme for environmental and climate projects will see its funding boosted by over 5% next year, receiving a total of €590. The Horizon 2020 programme, which includes some research and innovation projects relating to climate change, will receive €13.5bn, an increase of almost 9% compared to 2019. 

The Connecting Europe Facility's energy strand, which supports the large-scale deployment of renewables and energy infrastructure, will receive €1.28bn (an increase of 35% compared to 2019). Meanwhile, its transport strand will have double that, with €2.58bn.

“We successfully pushed Europe's ambitions to be a frontrunner for reaching the climate goals of the Paris Agreement,” said the Parliament’s lead negotiator Monika Hohlmeier.

Kimmo Tiilikainen, a junior finance minister in the Finnish government and chief Council negotiator for the file, said the agreement would ensure the 2020 budget “works in support of the EU’s climate agenda”. 

The Renew Europe group said it had also “extracted a commitment from the Commission to shift unused EU money towards climate budget lines in the course of the year”.

Rasmus Andresen, shadow rapporteur of the Greens/EFA group, praised the final agreement, saying next year’s budget will be “the greenest budget in the history of the European Union”.

Meanwhile, budget commissioner Günther Oettinger said the focus should now move to “a timely adoption of the next long-term budget so that we can provide certainty and stability for our beneficiaries and continue creating an EU added value for all”.

The agreement must now be formally adopted by the Council and Parliament.

Follow up: European Council, Parliament and Commission press releases. 

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