European Greens point to equality and ecological breaches in governments' plans for recovery funds

Non-compliance with the environment, gender equality and benefits for large companies. They are the ones that the group of the Greens in the European Parliament has identified in relation to the recovery plans sent by the countries to access the 750,000 million of European funds, and which details in a letter sent to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, signed by the group's co-spokespersons, Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts.

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"We have identified many cases where the requirements of the fund regulation and the European Commission guidance on the principle of 'do not cause significant harm' [al medio ambiente] and the categorization of green investments have been circumvented, ignored or simply not addressed, leading to a facelift and, in some cases, a possible violation of the 37% spending requirement for green investments, "they state in the letter.

Keller and Lamberts also claim to have "identified deficiencies beyond the green dimension of national plans, for example, with regard to the application of state aid and competition rules in digital investments, the absence of concrete measures to encourage the participation of SMEs. Y startups or the lack of a gender dimension, as well as country-specific recommendations related to corruption. "

Incorrect application of the 37% green spending requirement. "On paper, national recovery and resilience plans appear to meet the 37% green spending target," the report says: "A closer look, however, reveals that billions of euros are subject to mistakes and transgressions of rules in many national plans. The most glaring problem is overestimating or misrepresenting components towards the green spending target by labeling items that are not eligible for climate targets. "

Violations of the "do no significant harm" principle. The Greens' document states that there are "a large number of measures that do not appear to comply with this guidance, a Commission guidance that is binding. The funds regulation also specifies the need for these guidelines."

Non-compliance with EU environmental legislation. "The European Commission has assured us on numerous occasions that all investment projects must comply with existing laws and regulations and that the implementation of the recovery fund cannot lead to a reduction in environmental standards," say the Greens: "Without However, we have identified cases with a significant risk of non-compliance with EU legislation, in particular the Water, Birds and Habitats framework directive and the Strategic Maritime framework directive, as well as the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, and that of not regression in relevant national laws ".

At this point, the Greens detail a case of the Spanish plan: "The Spanish plan includes as part of the cross-border electrical connections between Spain and France the 'Mediterranean interconnection', which runs 200 meters next to a Natura 2000 area. The Impact Assessment Environmental is insufficient and outdated. It does not present the basic information necessary on its substantial impact on endangered species. "

State aid, protection of competition and access of SMEs to funds. "We are very concerned that, in many cases, public funds mainly benefit very few large companies and that institutional arrangements have not been established to systematically involve SMEs and avoid crowding out private investment," the Greens emphasize. "This is particularly the case for digital investments. This strongly contravenes the intention of the co-legislators, who have made clear their objective of significantly supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in the regulation, both by making direct reference to the participation of SMEs and recalling compliance with the rules of competition policy, designed to avoid the displacement of private investment and the distortion of a level competitive playing field ".

Territorial cohesion and involvement of local and regional authorities and stakeholders. The regulation of European funds "includes territorial cohesion as a central objective, in addition, the intention of the co-legislators to prioritize territorial cohesion within the Member States is visible in the requirement that eligible plans must be consistent with 'territorial plans of just transition 'under the Just Transition Fund. At the same time, the participation of local, municipal and regional authorities has been emphasized in the regulation. " And he adds: "Several Member States have not taken these priorities into account in their plans. Some, including Italy and Hungary, have failed to ensure that the principle of territorial cohesion is reflected both in the distribution of resources between regions and in the content of the planned projects ".

"The contribution of local and regional authorities seems not to have been reflected (for example, in France, Germany or Hungary) or their participation has been superficial (for example, Lithuania, Spain, Italy) or purely formalistic (for example, Hungary, Republic Czech, Slovakia), "say the Greens.

Gender-related requirements in the plan. "In several Member States, the country recommendations address gender balance issues, especially with regard to labor market participation, negative tax incentives, earned income, childcare and the knowledge gap." Says the Greens: "Country-specific recommendations related to gender have not been sufficiently addressed in several of the plans. For example, the technology chapter of the Italian plan does not even mention women, except for a final comment on women. career opportunities for women in digital tourism and in public administration. Despite the fact that Italy has a specific recommendation on the integration of women into the labor market and the significantly higher percentage of women who were forced to leave the market labor in the first ten months of the pandemic, compared to men. "

And they add: "We are deeply concerned that most of the plans lack a gender balanced approach and do not include explicit measures to address the problem of gender inequality, thus they fail to address the objective of mitigating the social and economic effects. of the crisis in women and respond to the pertinent questions of the recommendations by country ".

Address potential misuse in the implementation of funds. "Misuse of recovery plan funds is a major risk to public perception of the instrument and its acceptance of similar European fiscal tools in the future," states the Greens report: "Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that governance for the implementation of the plans ensures that what is in the plans is actually put in place and that the funds are spent in accordance with the rules of the regulation. We are concerned that the shortcomings addressed by the European Commission in this regard, including through the European Semester process, they are not addressed in many plans, particularly when the Member State has relevant country-specific recommendations. "


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