On 12 February, MEPs vote on the objection to the fourth Union list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI). The PCI list is intended to facilitate the creation of a resilient European energy infrastructure and to help the Union achieve its energy policy and climate objectives: affordable, secure and sustainable energy for all citizens, and the long-term decarbonisation of the economy in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Renew Europe considers that there are projects on the fourth PCI list which are not compatible with the Green Deal and with the Group’s climate goals, There is a clear danger that spending from Union funds, via the Connecting Europe Facility and some gas projects included in the PCI list, could end up as stranded assets. Billions of European taxpayers’ money could thus be lost. At the same time, Renew Europe strongly supports the projects on electricity interconnectors and smart grids, essential for the development of renewable energy sources in Europe. These projects should be prioritised and considered for financial help.
Therefore, Renew asks the European Commission to ensure that only climate-proof projects on the PCI list will receive Union funding. In a letter sent to Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Kadri Simson on 10 February, Renew Europe members stressed the urgent need for an in-depth analysis of the gas projects on the PCI list in order to finance only those that are truly genuinely necessary and compatible with the new climate and environmental commitments stemming from the Green Deal.
On 11 February, Simson answered Renew Europe’s request for energy infrastructure in line with the Group’s updated climate commitments made under the Green Deal. Simson not only committed to the revision of the TEN-E Regulation by December 2020 but she also guaranteed that the sustainability criteria will fully apply, including for gas candidate projects, when building the 5th PCI list. Last but not least, the Commissioner stressed the fact that it will have the Green deal in mind when allocating funding to the projects under the CEF, before adding that this list is not a guarantee of funding.
Morten Petersen MEP, shadow rapporteur on this file, said:
''There is a strong green movement calling us to act for the climate. This also applies to the way we invest and not least what we invest in. That is why the discussions we have had around the EU Projects of Common Interest are so important, and why we in Renew Europe want to push for the revision of the basic criteria for the energy investments we make, so that they are in line with the Green Deal objectives. When we choose to vote against the objection from the Greens, it is also because there are several important electricity projects on the list. So I find it difficult to see what we achieve by blocking the 4th list. We want to ensure that the Commission uses their opportunity to assess all infrastructure projects to ensure that they meet the Paris objectives. That is why, we have also sent a letter, asking the Commission to adopt a climate proofing mechanism to be laid down in the Climate Law due to be published in the coming weeks.''
Christophe Grudler MEP, ITRE Vice-Coordinator said:
“As regards the projects on this 4th list, I am delighted that Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson showed yesterday in the debate that she understands and shares our demand for energy infrastructure in line with our climate objectives. She committed to the revision of the TEN-E Regulation by December 2020 and also guaranteed that for the 5th PCI list the sustainability criteria would be fully and completely applied, including for gas candidate projects. And that it will be necessary to pass the sustainability test to be eligible for the fund. She has committed to take the Green Deal into consideration when deciding on the financing of projects through the Interconnection EU Fund, the CEF. We will remain vigilant at the time of funding.”