CAN Europe is a coalition of non-governmental organisations for climate and energy and analysed the opportunities of European funds in the National Energy and Climate Plans (PNEC) of 14 European countries to ensure a green recovery, under the LIFE Unify Project, accompanying the execution of the PNECs of several European Union (EU) countries, including Portugal.

The report, “EU Funds for a Green Recovery”, which was also released by the CEE Bankwatch Network, a network of non-governmental organisations in central and eastern Europe, identifies concrete investment proposals, regarding this week's European Council.

In addition to pointing out measures that should receive funding from the next EU budget, the report gives suggestions for increasing climate ambition and indicates others that should be excluded from funding.

Investment in renewables and low emission transportation systems are the document's great suggestions for stimulating an economy that is sustainable.

And harmful measures in the PNEC are those related to support for the use of fossil fuels.

“The report recommends that Member States direct their future investment plans towards climate neutrality and not spend money on harmful measures, such as the development of new fossil gas infrastructure, exploitation of national fossil fuel resources, use of biomass in systems, low efficiency heating and investments in non-renewable energy sources”, explains in a statement the Portuguese environmental association Zero, a partner of the LIFE Unify project.

For Portugal, Zero proposes to promote the dissemination of distributed energy production by renewable sources, self-consumption and energy communities, the energy rehabilitation of buildings, and changes in public transport.

The public transport sector “still has several shortcomings in the country, including in large urban centres where, despite having a greater offer, it is not yet complete and adequate to reduce the use of individual transport”, says Zero, considering it necessary “that the sector receives significant investments to improve public transport, including more connections, improved multimodal options and infrastructures and quality of service, with particular emphasis on the railroad that has undergone strong divestments in the connections that existed in the country”.

Markus Trilling, CAN Europe's finance and subsidies policy coordinator says, quoted in the report, that what Member States put in their budget plans “will define the EU's response to climate and economic crises in the next 10 years”, so European leaders "must use the full potential of EU funds to boost climate action and exclude support for fossil fuels".

Zero's president, Francisco Ferreira, adds that the use of funds for the benefit of the environment “is also for the benefit of society not only by combating climate change, but also because it is improving the health of the populations and generating more jobs throughout the country, with a consequent improvement in their quality of life”.

On 17 and 18 July, European leaders will meet in Brussels for the European Council meeting to discuss the Recovery Plan and potentially agree to the new long-term EU budget (for the period 2021-2027).