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Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, responds to Mircea Hava’s question on financing the energy efficiency of buildings: Support for building renovation, essential for recovery

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© colaj foto (European Union 2019 - Source : EP/ European Union 2019 - Source : EP)

EU Cohesion Policy Funds have been used to improve the energy performance of buildings and will continue to be used in this sector, said Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, to MEP Mircea Hava (PNL, EPP), according to a press release.

MEP Mircea Hava has addressed a written parliamentary question to Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, regarding financing the energy performance of residential buildings.

”What are the main guidelines and recommendations that the European Commission will provide to Member States regarding planning, selection and monitoring the financing projects for improving the energy performance of residential buildings?”, asked Hava, member of Committee on Regional Development (REGI) of the European Parliament.

Thus, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms emphasized in her answer that “the renovation of public and private buildings was identified in the European Green Deal as a key initiative to stimulate energy efficiency in this sector and achieve the goal of making Europe climate-neutral by 2050. Support for building renovation should also be essential for recovery, stimulating economic activity and jobs creation”, said Ferreira.

”In order to cut emissions, boost recovery and reduce energy poverty, The European Commission has published its Renovation Wave Strategy, aiming to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency”, reminded Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.

The European Commissioner also recalled that ”Member States are encouraged to ensure that their co-financed energy efficiency and resource efficiency programs are well geared toward improving the energy performance of buildings. The guidance document on financing the energy renovation of buildings through cohesion policy funds remains relevant and provides useful support to Member States in planning, selecting and implementing energy efficiency projects. Cohesion policy funds should also be used to address the challenge of energy poverty. Finally, Member States should complement the implementation of EU co-funded programs with additional support schemes”, Ferreira added.

The European Commission published last year its Renovation Wave Strategy to improve the energy performance of buildings. The Commission aims to at least double renovation rates in the next ten years and make sure renovations lead to higher energy and resource efficiency.

This will enhance the quality of life for people living in and using the buildings, reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, foster digitalisation and improve the reuse and recycling of materials. By 2030, 35 million buildings could be renovated and up to 160,000 additional green jobs created in the construction sector.

The strategy will prioritise action in three areas: decarbonisation of heating and cooling; tackling energy poverty and worst-performing buildings; and renovation of public buildings such as schools, hospitals and administrative buildings. The Commission proposes to break down existing barriers throughout the renovation chain – from the conception of a project to its funding and completion – with a set of policy measures, funding tools and technical assistance instruments.

The strategy will include the following lead actions:

  • Stronger regulations, standards and information on the energy performance of buildings to set better incentives for public and private sector renovations, including a phased introduction of mandatory minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings, updated rules for Energy Performance Certificates, and a possible extension of building renovation requirements for the public sector;
  • Ensuring accessible and well-targeted funding, including through the ‘Renovate’ and ‘Power Up’ Flagships in the Recovery and Resilience Facility under NextGenerationEU, simplified rules for combining different funding streams, and multiple incentives for private financing;
  • Increasing capacity to prepare and implement renovation projects, from technical assistance to national and local authorities through to training and skills development for workers in new green jobs;
  • Expanding the market for sustainable construction products and services, including the integration of new materials and nature-based solutions, and revised legislation on marketing of construction products and material reuse and recovery targets;
  • Creating a New European Bauhaus, an interdisciplinary project co-steered by an advisory board of external experts including scientists, architects, designers, artists, planners and civil society. From now until summer 2021 the Commission will conduct a broad participatory co-creation process, and will then set up a network of five founding Bauhaus in 2022 in different EU countries.
  • Developing neighbourhood-based approaches for local communities to integrate renewable and digital solutions and create zero-energy districts, where consumers become prosumers selling energy to the grid. The strategy also includes an Affordable Housing Initiative for 100 districts.

Teodora Ion este redactor-șef adjunct și specialistă în domeniul relațiilor internaționale. Aria sa de expertiză include procesul retragerii Marii Britanii din Uniunea Europeană, relațiile comerciale globale și competiția pentru supremație dintre marile puteri ale lumii. Teodora este corespondent în cadrul summit-urilor Consiliului European și al celorlalte reuniuni decizionale de la nivelul UE.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EPP Group adopted a position paper on solutions to fight inflation and rising energy prices

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© Vasile Blaga / Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) presented for CaleaEuropeană.ro a series of EPP solutions to the crisis generated by inflation and uncontrolled energy price rises, following his participation in a meeting of the European People’s Group in Athens.

The MEP reports that an EPP Group position paper was adopted on the solutions the European People’s Party is proposing to the European Commission to combat inflation, rising energy prices and the cost of living.

  • In the fiscal area, the EPP group proposes that the Commission create the conditions for Member States to introduce new temporary exemptions or reductions in energy taxes and excise duties to mitigate the negative impact on households and businesses. The group also recommends, in the event of a prolonged crisis, exempting basic foodstuffs from VAT in order to reduce the daily living costs of citizens.
  • The EPP Group calls for the use of voluntary joint procurement of energy products to reduce prices in negotiations and ensure security of supply for all Member States.
    In the area of the energy market, the EPP Group supports the Commission’s proposals for an emergency temporary cap on market revenues from the sale of electricity, as a gesture of temporary solidarity aimed at reducing energy costs for households and businesses.
  • In parallel with these emergency measures, the EPP Group supports accelerating investment in renewable energy production units, energy efficiency, but also infrastructure, especially in cross-border projects to avoid future energy shocks to the EU economy. On the installation of renewables, especially for households, Member States must strive for de-bureaucratisation – removing administrative barriers and simplifying permitting.
  • In this respect, the installation of rooftop solar panels, heat pumps and small wind turbines across the Union needs to be stepped up to reduce gas consumption. All administrative barriers should be simplified or removed and significant subsidy schemes should be made available by Member States.
  • Last but not least, the EPP Group calls for more support for renovations. Major renovations, such as insulating buildings, involve high costs that most households cannot afford. The EPP Group therefore calls for easier access to bank loans for homeowners.

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CoR: Newly elected chair of COTER Commission, Emil Boc will focus his mandate on efficient use of EU budget and cohesion funds

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© EPP Group CoR/ Twitter

Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and former Prime Minister of Romania, was elected chair of the European Committee of the Regions’ commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) for a mandate of  two and a half years, according to a press release of EPP-CoR Group.

Emil Boc (RO/EPP) has been a member of the CoR since 2019 and was rapporteur of many opinions on topics related to education, such as the European Education Area, the European Strategy for Universities, and how the EU is addressing the brain drain challenge. In his new role as chair of the COTER Commission, Mr Boc will focus his political activity on the use of the EU budget and cohesion funds, the decarbonisation of transports and the start of a forward-looking reflection to secure a strong and efficient cohesion policy also in the future.

Emil Boc commented on his election saying: “As COTER chair, one of my biggest priorities is to make sure that we will have an efficient sustainable and qualitative implementation of the current cohesion programmes and a strong cohesion policy in the future. We will dedicate a lot of attention to the upcoming debates. I will meet soon with the EU Commissioner for Cohesion Policy and Reforms Elisa Ferreira to discuss about our Joint Action Plan: we have to work closely with the Commission on how to provide the necessary support for local and regional authorities to speed up the implementation.”

He added that: “There are many EU Funds that are linked to Cohesion directly or indirectly and this impacts negatively the capacity of regional and local beneficiaries to use the EU in general and the Cohesion Fund in particular. Concrete support is needed from the European Commission and Member States national governments in boosting the administrative capacity of regional and local authorities as main beneficiaries of the Cohesion Policy.”

Addressing the members of COTER Commission he highlighted: “I want to ensure that our work as COTER and institution has a real impact in our territories, and that no region is left behind, no matter the size, demographic or geographic challenges. We must work together with all EU institutions and make sure that the voice of cities and regions and of our citizens is heard”. Cohesion is not a technicality but a political principle, it is the glue that keeps Europe united. The democratic future of Europe depends on the future of Cohesion policy. Especially in these difficult moments we need cohesion and solidarity to be able to properly and efficiently respond to our citizen’s needs.”

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MEP Vasile Blaga: I hope that Romania’s handling of the war crisis will be the last argument in favour of Schengen accession

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© Vasile Blaga

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) said, after the visit of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to Romania, that he hopes that the way our country has managed the crisis generated by the war in Ukraine will be the “last argument” in favour of Romania’s political decision to join the Schengen area. 

The MEP drew three conclusions from last week’s LIBE Committee mission to Romania.

According to Vasile Blaga, Romania has proved to be a model for the countries neighbouring the conflict between Russia and Ukraine – “a model of administrative capacity to manage the refugee crisis”, but also “a model of solidarity of Romanian citizens in the face of the tragedy of people from the neighbouring country who were forced to cross our border”.

He also mentioned the area of NGOs, whose contribution has been “at least significant, if not vital” in this crisis.

”The second conclusion relates to the continued need for EU funding for the countries affected by the crisis in Ukraine, including Romania. From the European Parliament, together with my colleagues, we will continue to press for more financial aid – both for the humanitarian area and for the economic sectors severely affected by the war on our borders”, added the MEP. 

The last conclusion mentioned by the MEP was related to Romania’s accession to the Schengen area.

“The management of this crisis at Romania’s border highlights once again the technical capabilities that our country possesses and demonstrates for the thousandth time to the whole European area that putting Romania’s integration into the Schengen area in brackets all these years is a serious mistake and a great injustice done to both our country and Bulgaria and I hope that the way Romania has managed the crisis generated by the war in Ukraine will be the last argument in favour of the political decision to join Schengen”, Vasile Blaga said for CaleaEuropeana.ro.    

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