Baltic leaders: EU budget must help reach climate neutrality ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Pakri Wind Farm. Photo is illustrative.
Pakri Wind Farm. Photo is illustrative. Source: Estonian Wind Power Association.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda sent a joint letter to the heads of state and government of EU member states on Friday in which they stressed that the European Union's next long-term budget has to help achieve the goal of climate neutrality.

The three leaders emphasized in their letter that  while the EU's next long-term budget for 2021-2027 must help member states reach the goal of climate neutrality, a reduction in the size of the budget would jeopardize it, spokespeople for the Estonian government told BNS. They added that the cohesion policy and common agricultural policy should not be cut, as the primary investments made for combating climate change are made under these.

Ratas, Karins and Nauseda emphasized that in combating climate change, one must act resolutely and ambitiously, and affirm their commitment to shared responsibility.

They also stressed that very big investments in several fields would be needed for the transition to climate neutrality. This will require a lot of change over the next years, and in almost all fields — particularly in energy, transport, the industrial and housing sector, as well as agriculture, rural development, forestry and the acceleration of the transition to a circular economy.

"The next long-term EU budget remains the key instrument in delivering climate neutrality, supporting the objectives of the Green Deal and the digital transformation and preserving the EU's competitiveness while ensuring a just and socially fair transition," the letter reads. "Unfortunately, the proposed reductions of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) would jeopardize the implementation of these goals, especially in areas that contribute significantly to climate objectives — namely, cohesion and agricultural policies."

The three Baltic leaders pointed out that member states are facing the same challenges, and likewise the same is the investment required for the transition to climate neutrality. Thus it is impossible to justify significant differences in direct payments among member states. The functioning of the single market is continuously jeopardized as a level playing field is far from being established for Baltic farmers.

"According to our estimates, the required investment to achieve climate neutrality is equal in size to more than 2/3 of an entire GDP of any country in our region," they said. "We need to invest practically in the energy, transport, industry and housing sectors as well as in agriculture, rural development and forestry, as well as accelerate the transition to a circular economy."

In order to get on the desired track, including implementing our integrated National Energy and Climate Plans and reaching targets for 2023, the bulk of such investment is necessary in the next ten years, hence over the duration of the 2021-2027 MFF, the letter continued.

"Thus, decisions on the next MFF will be a 'make or break' moment, especially for countries and regions whose GDP per capital still falls below the EU average and who have more limited financial capacity," it read. "In order to tackle the issue on all fronts, various instruments of the EU budget will have their role to play."

Ratas, Karins and Nauseda said that given the intensity of investment necessary in this area over the next decade, the overall climate investment must in the Baltic countries exceed the 25 percent target of EU expenditure contributing to climate objectives proposed by the European Commission for the multiannual EU Budget.

"As significant EU investment under the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy is crucial for our countries to make the necessary headway in the next ten years, the proposed cuts for the Baltic states must be reversed and full external convergence of agricultural direct payments must be achieved by the end of the next MFF," the Baltic leaders said, adding that they strongly believed that decreasing the overall level of the 2021-2027 MFF treaty-based policies would be particularly disproportionate, and detrimental to meeting the EU's general climate neutrality goal.

Click here (link to PDF) to read the Baltic leaders' joint letter in full.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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