EU Commission backs 55 controversial new fossil fuel projects

31 October 2019

In one of the last acts of President Juncker’s administration, the European Commission has today backed 55 new climate-damaging fossil fuel projects, as part of a list of priority energy projects - a move that flies in the face of the climate emergency say Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe.

This fourth edition of the list, known as ‘Projects of Common Interest’ (PCI) list, lends European Commission support to dozens of new climate-damaging gas infrastructure projects with lifetimes lasting decades.

Colin Roche, fossil free campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:

“In one of its last acts, the Juncker Commission’s support for yet more fossil gas projects will bring us a step closer to climate breakdown. This new PCI list makes a mockery of the EU’s commitments to deliver a ‘carbon neutral’ Europe, and insults all those who have voted and protested for decisive climate action. MEPs must now reject this list and all new fossil fuel projects.”

Controversial fossil fuel projects

Projects supported include new gas pipelines and LNG terminals - many to import fracked gas from the United States - which could shackle Europe to decades more fossil fuel use. This is despite incoming European Commission President von der Leyen’s promise of a ‘carbon neutral’ continent by 2050 and a ‘Green Deal’ for Europe in her first 100 days.

Controversial projects backed by the EU Commission include: 

  • Gas mega-pipelines connecting Europe to Azerbaijan and crisis-ridden Eastern Mediterranean countries; 

  • and terminals for importation of polluting fracked gas from the U.S., including the controversial LNG terminals in Krk in Croatia, and Shannon in Ireland (which is caught up in a legal dispute and faces criticism for its links to the U.S. fracking industry), as well as terminals in Greece, Cyprus and Poland. EU LNG import terminals have been used at less than a quarter of their capacities in the past years.

FoE Croatia protest against Krk gas terminal 11.10.2018

Subsidies for climate destruction

Energy projects on the PCI list are eligible to receive EU subsidy under the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’, even though the EU has committed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

Fossil gas is an emissions-intensive fossil fuel that is not compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement nor with EU climate targets. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) one year ago warned the world is running out of time to address the climate emergency.

Attention next turns to MEPs, who face a test of their climate credentials if they vote on whether to approve or reject this PCI list.

Frida Kieninger, from Food & Water Europe said:

“MEPs must reject EU support for yet more dirty gas projects - this list is based on a deeply flawed selection process that is untransparent, riddled with gas industry interests, and does not consider climate impacts. The climate crisis has no space for the EU Commission’s blatant promotion of dirty fossil fuels.”

Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth Ireland, commenting on the EU Commission's support for an LNG terminal in Shannon, Ireland, said:

“It’s hard to see how the Shannon LNG terminal even qualifies as a so-called ‘project of common interest’ - it does not connect with the rest of Europe, it has not been assessed for the impacts on our climate targets - it’s in the interest of an American fossil fuel company, not the people of Europe.”

Marija Mileta of Zelena Akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia commenting on the EU Commission's support for the Krk LNG terminal in Croatia, said:
"It's unacceptable that the European Commission is giving support to climate-wrecking projects such as the Krk LNG terminal, while at the same time it's portraying itself as a climate leader and talking about a European "green deal". Whats more, the Commission is pushing for a project that is opposed by the whole Krk community, and despite there being numerous legal omissions and complaints civil society organisations. In a state of climate emergency, this is not only hypocritical, but also dangerous."
Campaigners are calling for the ‘Trans-European Networks - Energy’ (TEN-E) Regulation, which governs the PCI list, to be aligned to EU climate commitments.