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Flanders and Brussels complain of climate budget from EU

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The Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon is to demand more money from the EU for the Green Deal – Europe’s plan for tackling climate change.

Brussels region, meanwhile, is complaining that as things stand at present, it receives no money at all.

Jambon explained his misgivings in a letter to the EU Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen.

I take note of the fact that your proposal would disadvantage Flanders financially, and take no account of the major investments we have already made to transform our economy and reduce our emissions,” Jambon writes.

The Green Deal is a package of measures which are intended to guide the EU in fighting climate change after Brexit. It involves a total of €1,000 billion in investments over a period of years, with the aim of achieving a carbon neutral EU by 2050.

That will involve the transformation of virtually all sectors of the economy in all 27 member states.

We stand behind the starting point of the Green Deal, but we have a number of misgivings about the implementation,” said a spokesperson for Jambon. “We wish to make these concerns known to the rest of Europe in advance.”

At present, Belgium has €68 million earmarked from the so-called Just Transition Fund, though that is intended to spark many millions of investment more.

Latvia also receives €68 million, for double the area but only one-fifth of the population. The Netherlands gets €220 million, Bulgaria €458 million and Poland €2 billion.

To make matters worse, the Commission proposes that the lion’s share of Belgium’s allotment should go to Hainaut province in Wallonia.

One of the major aspects of the Fund is to provide support to regions that are transitioning from old energy sources like shale oil, coal and even peat. And Hainaut province was and still is heavily dependent on coal.

Earlier, Flemish energy minister Zuhal Demir had singled out that aspect for criticism.

““Flanders could normally claim €39 out of €68 million, but the European Commission is putting a stop to it,” Demir complained.

The Commission wants Belgium to use resources as a priority in Mons, Charleroi and Tournai. The reason for that is very artificial and not transparent.”

Brussels region, meanwhile, has a greater problem.

According to the region’s climate minister Alain Maron (Ecolo), Brussels can look forward to none of the money earmarked for Belgium.

It does indeed seem that the lion’s share of the money allotted to Belgium will flow in Hainaut’s direction,” said Maron’s spokesperson Pascal Devos to Bruzz. “But we won’t be leaving the matter there. We’ll be looking to see how we might be able to influence the decision so that we too receive a share of the money.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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