Open letter from the Coalition for Higher Ambition on Cohesion Policy

24 January 2020


President of the European Council, Charles Michel

President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli

Executive Vice President of the Commission Frans Timmermans

Commissioner Elisa Ferreira

Commissioner Johannes Hahn

Director General, Marc Lemaitre

All three EU institutions must seize the final opportunity to ensure that Cohesion Policy supports a truly sustainable and just transition to climate neutrality for all regions while leaving no-one behind.

EU citizens and scientists are calling on the institutions to act on the climate emergency. In December, the European Council committed the EU to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. This requires all EU funding instruments to implement and support ambitious EU climate and energy objectives. 

EU funding has a huge, though currently untapped potential to address the climate challenge. An additional €260 billion per year will be needed to make the transition happen. Investment must also be carried out in a way that fairly addresses the social impacts of climate action, ensuring no one is left behind and the benefits are redistributed, alongside the costs. This is why ongoing negotiations on the 2021 to 2027 multiannual financial framework, including those around the Cohesion Policy, are vital in aligning EU funding with climate objectives.

We therefore call on the Council, Parliament and Commission to: 

  1. Support the full exclusion of fossil fuel investments from EU financing
    Investing in fossil fuels locks-in polluting technology and infrastructure, diverting funds away from longer-term, sustainable investments that contribute to Europe’s future economic prosperity and security. The Commission’s proposal and the Parliament’s position exclude fossil fuels from the next generation of Cohesion Policy funding. The Council needs to withdraw its request for continued EU financing of fossil fuel.
  2. Uphold the Partnership Principle in all programming, implementation and monitoring of EU cohesion policy
    Achieving climate neutrality and rolling-out the Just Transition requires involving all relevant stakeholders. The development of programming documents, implementation of programmes and projects as well as monitoring EU funds must therefore involve and bring together all relevant partners from the local and national levels. Both Member States and the Commission have to ensure the full involvement of partners from the onset of the new programming process, both in legislative provisions and in practice, in order to guarantee EU funds genuinely benefit climate action in all EU’s regions.
  3. Support strong climate mainstreaming and ensure that all EU funding programmes and projects are embedded in strategies that support climate objectives
    The Commission proposal highlights the important role Cohesion Policy will play in addressing climate change in a socially fair way. To deliver on the transition, a binding 40 per cent earmarking for climate and environment across all Cohesion Policy funding has to be adopted, and climate neutrality compatibility and objectives must be embedded in all future spending plans. 

The Parliament’s position on the European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and the Common Provisions Regulation is close to bringing EU funds in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, it is the responsibility of all three EU institutions to realise the full potential of the €374 billion to deliver on the just transition towards climate neutrality, as demanded by European citizens.

The EU is at a critical moment. The next decade of EU funding will be crucial if Member States are to set off down a pathway that is consistent with the international commitments under the Paris Agreement and if they are to promote a transition that is socially fair, sustainable and advantageous to their citizens and their economies.

The undersigned organisations urge you to accept these recommendations and negotiate a Cohesion Policy fit to achieve the joint objectives of addressing climate change and supporting regional territorial cohesion.

Ester Asin   Wendel Trio   Huub Scheele
Director   Director   Interim Executive Director
WWF European Policy Office   Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe   CEE Bankwatch Network


List of undersigning stakeholders:

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Businesses position on recast of Drinking Water Directive

Position on Recast of Drinking Water Directive

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) welcomes the European Parliament report on the recast of the Drinking Water Directive as well the General approach of Council on the Drinking Water Directive. The recast of the Drinking Water Directive signifies a step in the right direction in updating the legislative framework to the challenges faced by the drinking water sector.
In view of the ongoing trilogues, the European Alliance to Save Energy would like to highlight that we strongly support the European Parliament’s position on:

  • the mandatory introduction of Member State water leakage reduction targets
  • and requirements for water utilities to publicly disclose information on water leakage rates and energy performance

As such, we ask to support these measures throughout the trilogue negotiations process with a view to including them in the finally agreed text.

We also suggest compromise proposals which would help reduce the amount of non-revenue water and improve the energy efficiency of the water sector.

For any further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Support for EIB 2020 Pledge to stop fossil energy lending

Dear President,
Dear Vice Presidents,
Dear Members of the Board,

As representatives of the investment, business and scientific communities, we believe
we are facing a climate emergency with devastating consequences for the planet and livelihood
of all citizens. 2020 is a “Super Year” for international policy action. It is the 75th anniversary
of the United Nations. It is the first real opportunity for nations and financial institutions to
increase climate ambition and meet 2050 net-zero goals.

This decade must be a turning point, the moment when the world bends the curve, averts impending climate and biodiversity disasters and opts instead to embark on the fastest economic transformation in our history. We therefore believe that financial institutions and businesses must align their operations with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and shift capital away from high- carbon investments by2020. As such, we applaud the great leadership of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and its Management Committee in publishing a more ambitious draft energy lending policy in July 2019 and welcome the recognition that net-zero emissions are necessary to stay within 1.5 degrees of global warming.

Your aspiration to “stop lending to fossil-fuel energy projects by the end of 2020” and focus on the “energy efficiency first principle”, renewable energy and the necessity to support a “just transition” for workers in high-carbon sectors, has sent an important signal to financial markets and institutions across the globe. Your progressive leadership will set an historical example, and we will work to ensure that other institutions like yours follow by making similar immediate-term commitments to a sustainable future.

If the EIB is to become a genuine climate bank and play a pivotal role in a European Green Deal, and in European lending policy across all financial institutions, then it must not subsidise fossil fuel projects whose lifetimes are likely to extend into the second half of this century.
We hope and expect that the EIB will deliver on its plans and swiftly confirm this level of ambition in its policy, in support of the goal of climate neutrality as the target for all future investment decisions of the EIB.

This is a unique opportunity for the EIB – the EU Bank – to help avert climate breakdown, by putting itself at the heart of Europe’s transition to a fossil-free economy and show real leadership.

The signatories of this letter assure you of their support in the phase-out of public lending to fossil fuel projects and the shift to low-carbon public and private investments.

We offer our assistance to the EIB in implementing the 2020 deadline and will work with other financial institutions to ensure they follow your lead.

Our sincere regards,

The Club of Rome
AQAL Group
Equality Moonshot
European Alliance to Save Energy
FORUM Nachhaltiges Wirtschaften
GLS Bank
TBLI Group
WAM Wermuth Asset Management
WBGU Germany Advisory Council on Global Change
We Mean Business


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Retooling Europe’s energy investments landscape to sustain growth

Brussels, 6 September 2019

Dear Chairman Mr Hoyer,

Subject: Retooling Europe’s energy investments landscape to sustain growth and meet future societal and environmental challenges.

I am writing to you on behalf of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE). EU-ASE is multi-sectoral business led organization whose members operate across the 28 Member States of the European Union, with an aggregated annual turnover of €115 bn, directly employing 340.000 people in Europe. Our aim is to reach out to decision makers to promote and show evidence of the key role that energy efficiency technologies and solutions play in decarbonizing the energy system and generate economic growth and employment in the European Union.

We welcome the EIB’s proposed new energy lending policy. The recognition of the Energy Efficiency First principle in the EIB energy lending assessments is a turning point in the way public and private funds are to be allocated. This approach, aligned with your 2018/2019 Investment Report, will stimulate rational and financially sound investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation and generate positive externalities in terms of growth, jobs creation and energy security.

We also fully support the bank’s proposal to phase out, by the end of 2020, investments in fossil fuels projects and infrastructures and its strategic focus on the reduction of energy demand through energy efficiency measures, the reinforcement of electricity networks and demand side response mechanism and the development low-carbon power generation and storage. Such a move will align the bank’s spending with the EU’s commitment under the Paris Agreement and bring about the necessary investments to truly set the EU’s energy system on a path to climate neutrality, all the while strengthening Europe’s security of supply.

We consider the proposed European Initiative for Building Renovation and the reinforcement of technical and financial advisory services to project developers and public authorities as essential pieces of the new policy. Such innovations will channel investments in an area with high potential for large CO2 abatement and will help partners, notably southern and eastern countries, to scale up investments in the region.

The proposed EIB energy lending policy is a game changer that comes at a very important point in time, when we all face the urgency to address the devastating impact of the climate crisis on our economy and on the more disadvantaged groups of our society. With this letter we would like to provide our support for the endorsement of this new approach at the next meeting of the Board of Directors. This new lending policy will have a positive roll-on effect on other banks across Europe and worldwide and will be crucial to leverage the investments necessary to face the social, economic and environmental challenges that 2050 climate neutrality implies.

Best regards,
Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)

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Business Alliance call for urgent action on the transition to a Climate Neutral Europe


Brussels, 19 June 2019

President of the European Council,

Heads of States and Governments of the European Union Member States,

I am writing to you on behalf of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE). We are a multi-sectoral business organisation whose members operate across the 28 Member States of the European Union, with an aggregated annual turnover of €115 bn, directly employing 340.000 people in Europe.

The Alliance creates an outreach platform for our companies (Danfoss, Knauf Insulation, Schneider Electric, Saint-Gobain, Siemens, Signify, and Veolia) towards politicians and thought leaders to ensure the voice of energy efficiency is heard from across the business and political community.

As you meet during the next European Council meeting in Brussels on 20-21 June 2019, we urge you to commit the European Union to a long-term climate strategy with the objective of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. Pursuing this objective will signal a new economic direction for Europe.

The urgency of the climate crisis requires immediate action, stepping up our climate ambition and pursuing every effort to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C by mid-century, as evidenced by the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. To achieve the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, businesses and investors must ramp up investments without delay. The next phase of European action must begin this year as current energy and climate policies in place globally, set the planet on a global warming pathway of 3°C.

As businesses who aim to build the climate neutral economy of the future, we urge you to:

  • Welcome the European Commission’s long-term climate vision to tackle climate crisis
  • Support the objective of netzero emissions by 2050 in order to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 °C and align the Paris Agreement objectives
  • Endorse the call of the European Commission for energy efficiency to play a central role in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050
  • Consider Energy Efficiency First as a basis of the European long term strategy and the main driver of the transformation towards a fossilfree energy system
  • Welcome the call for higher buildings’ renovation rates and the recognition of the role that digitalisation and near zero-emissions buildings will play in the transition
  • Acknowledge the need for a just transition that leaves no one behind

As business and investor leaders who aim to build the climate neutral economy of the future, we urge you agree the necessary policy foundations, notably the climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest and set the direction of travel that will provide us with the clarity and confidence to act.

We wish you a fruitful meeting and remain at your disposition for further discussion on this strategic topic.

Yours sincerely,

Monica Frassoni

President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)

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