15 April, Brussels – MEPs have voted to earmark €5billion for an energy efficiency fund to support projects promoted by cities and regional administrations. This would guaranteed a ring-fenced budget within the European Fund for Structural Investments (EFSI), which was proposed by Commission President Juncker in November.
The new European Fund will be set up with the support of the European Investment Bank, combining €5billion of EIB financing with €16billion from the EU budget. The Fund aims to leverage a total of €315billion over the next three years.
The vote took place in the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee, in an amendment to the regulation establishing the EFSI. As the regulation is under a fast-track procedure, in agreement with the other Committees, ITRE has been given sole competence over the relevant article. It should therefore be in the text which forms the basis of discussions with the Member States.
The leading committee – the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee – will vote on the Parliament’s position on 20 April before plenary in June.
Update – 21 April: The Budget (BUDG) and Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committees have rejected the energy efficiency fund, claiming that the competencies allocated to ITRE did not extend to decisions about ring-fenced budgets. Although BUDG and ECON were the two lead Committees on the bill, they had reached an agreement that ITRE and the Transport Committee should be given “exclusive competence” over certain articles. Budget ring-fencing was opposed by the EPP and ALDE groupings, who were able to convince the S&D group drop their support for the amendment to save other changes to the Parliament’s position.