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Debates
Monday, 10 December 2018 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Establishing a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Rapporteur. – Mr President, thank you very much. We don’t have a lot of silence yet, but let me start by thanking all shadow rapporteurs for their wonderful cooperation; we had very smooth negotiations in order to find compromises. So let me start by thanking them for that.

Secondly, I would like to thank the European Commission for its strong proposal for the prolongment of the LIFE financial instrument, which is – let’s face it – the most successful financial instrument that we have in Europe. It is very effective, it’s very efficient, and it’s extremely relevant. It’s loved in Brussels, but also in the Member States by industry and by civil society. I think it’s an example of how European financial instruments should work. It plays a wonderful catalytic role to initiate, expand and accelerate sustainability, and its main success factor is that it’s quality—driven. It is not spoilt by politics. That sounds a bit strange in this political arena, but it’s quality—driven. As far as I’m concerned, as rapporteur – and I found quite some support for that among the shadow rapporteurs – we should continue to keep it quality—driven.

Of course, even a successful programme can be improved, and there are two elements that I would like to highlight here. First of all, the original fund is far too small: we have EUR 5 billion. That’s why this Parliament already, in an earlier plenary resolution, asked for an increase to EUR 7 billion – very important.

The second point is that it should have more coherence with the other EU funds. LIFE is very successful, but too many other European funds are going against the interests of biodiversity, nature and the environment, and especially the strategic integrated projects under the LIFE programme play a very important role here.

I would like to highlight two more political elements that were also discussed in this House.

The first is that this LIFE budget can only be relatively small if all other EU budget funds are not going against the interests of the environment. That is a very crucial point, also made in all the impact assessments by the Commission and in the introduction to the LIFE programme by the Commission. It can only have this limited amount of money if the other EU funds are not going against it, and it’s very important that we monitor that after the MFF has been improved at large.

The second, more political, debate is about national allocations. I’m very happy that we found a compromise among the shadows and that we did not fall into the trap of moving towards national allocations, but that we found a compromise on a bio-geographic balance, which means that we take the ecosystems in Europe as a basis and not our national borders.

Finally, I would like to make some comments on amendments that have been tabled here in plenary. There is one EPP amendment that explicitly mentions the agricultural sector and forestry to include them even more strongly in the LIFE fund. I would like to emphasise that, under the current LIFE, agricultural projects are very much eligible. We currently have 136 projects ongoing, and so it’s not only superfluous; it’s also behaving a bit like the very hungry caterpillar. There are agricultural funds of EUR 400 billion already reserved, and this limited fund of EUR 5 billion should not be more strongly focused on the agricultural sector than it already is.

Finally, regarding the other amendment from the EPP on large carnivores: I know it’s a political debate and it’s worthwhile having that debate here, but putting it among the general objectives of the LIFE programme, which talks about climate, environment and biodiversity in general terms, and then adding large carnivores as equal to those general objectives doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Let’s have that debate when we discuss the other, more individual, parts of it.

 
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