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Political editorial - "Brussels from the inside"

By Claire Roumet on 28 May 2015

Energy Cities’ Director Claire Roumet takes us behind the scenes in Brussels and shares her opinion on the latest EU policy developments.

First battle on energy and climate issues at the European Parliament, about the proposals for using the Investment Plan, also called "Juncker Plan". What to say?

First thing is we hadn’t got a proposal from the European Commission called after the name of its President since Jacques Delors... However, the Investment Plan is far from being a new stage in the European integration process. It is more a guarantee to fuflfil national "wishlists" that together make a heterogeneous collection and certainly not a project for Europe.

It was the stake though, and this is why some very determined MEPs had chosen this as thir first political battle. MEPs Kathleen Van Brempt and Claude Turmes had offered and obtained from the Parliament’s ITRE Committee that investments would be earmarked and that EUR50 billion from the fund would be dedicated to the energy transition, notably at local level.

It would have only been ensuring continuity as at least 20% of the Structural Funds have already been earmarked to energy transition. If the MEPs of the ITRE Commission followed Kathleen Van Brempt thanks to a compromise between parties, the Committee on Budgets denied ITRE’s competence to decide on the allocation of the funds. Moreover, the Conference of Presidents (of the Parliament’s Committees) desavowed the agreement between parties by going back on the compromise. And what for? No clear direction for the investments but, above all, the Parliament made things easy for the Commission and Member States.

The European Council and Commission, together with the EIB, were opposed to earmarking the funds, willing to keep control over the selection of projects. Did they get anything in return? Little chance. So why not, as a principle, showing that public money should be spent in a democratic way, thus following the Parliament’s opinion?
These negotiations only increase the "inter-governmental" character of the European Union, which, as a matter of fact, has a lot of trouble making its voice heard.

© photo European Commission

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