Nine central and eastern EU countries are holding back progress on the bloc's climate change ambitions by failing to invest funding from Brussels in green energy sources, according to a study published Tuesday.
The report, by environmental organizations Friends of the Earth Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network, argues that the potential of using EU funds to support a transition to clean energy is "largely untapped" in the bloc's newer member states.
"We're seeing EU funds being spent across Central and Eastern Europe for coal, gas and dated transport systems – locking countries into fossil-fuel dependency, at the expense of renewables and energy efficiency," said campaigner Markus Trilling.
The EU has signed up to international commitments to limit global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and member states have pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and switch to renewable energy sources.
But EU funding to sectors such as energy and transport infrastructure is being allocated to projects in Central and Eastern Europe that do not support these goals, the authors of the report argue.
As examples, they said that Poland and the Czech Republic offer financial support to replace old coal boilers with modern ones that are supposedly more ecological, while Estonia and Croatia are getting EU funds to extend airports - without consideration for the climate.
The study looks at Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia and the Czech Republic. Funding from the European Union makes up the "vast majority" of public infrastructure investments in Central and Eastern European member states, it notes.