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European Structural and Investment Funds support your local government´s low-carbon transition

The European Parliament voting in favour of the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 marks a major step forward in transforming Europe into a clean and competitive low-carbon economy. At least 20% of the entire budget will be spent on climate-related projects and policies. This commitment triples the current share (6-8%) and could yield as much as 180 billion € in climate finance in all major spending areas, including structural funds, research, agriculture, maritime policy and fisheries, and development.

The new budget of European Structural and Investment Funds includes a minimum of 23 billion € to catalyse the 'shift to a low-carbon economy'. Investments should promote and support energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart energy management in public infrastructure, the building sector (both public and private) and enterprises. Moreover 'smart grids' and sustainable multi-modal urban mobility are eligible for EU funding, and particular attention and financial support will be granted to a 'low-carbon strategy', particularly in urban areas.

CEE Bankwatch Network, a partner in the CO-POWER project, encourages local authorities to explore the newly-introduced 'Community-Led Local Development' approach enabling local governments together with citizens and businesses to establish their own local sustainable energy framework, including community owned energy projects. This bottom up implementation of EU funds requires strong political commitments at the local level to support local decision-makers in the development of Sustainable Energy Action Plans, and the potential for local energy efficiency and renewable energy production policy. On that basis an optimal public-private financing mix, including European funding, can be developed. This represents a great opportunity for local and regional actors seeking to implement community energy projects, while creating jobs and cutting ever-increasing energy bills in their territory.

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