The European People’s Party has explained to COSPP why they will be opposing Socialist and Green members of the European Parliament in their bid to ring-fence up to €5bn of Juncker Plan investor risk guarantees for energy efficiency projects.

EPP Communications spokesperson, Lars Ole Loecke (right) told COSPP online that the group was not an opponent of energy efficiency but said it “made no sense to earmark a portion of the fund to a very specific use.”
Lars Ole Loecke
On Tuesday the Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee will vote on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the legislation implementing the Juncker Plan.

Two separate amendments have been tabled to reserve money for energy efficiency.

The European People’s Party (EPP) along with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), and the Liberals (ALDE) have made known their intention not to vote for the changes.

The investment plan is to use €16 billion of EU money and €5 billion of funds from the European Investment Bank as risk guarantees. These guarantees should unlock up to €315 billion of private and public investment over the next three years, according to the European Commission.

“The EPP Group has no opposition to energy efficiency,” Loecke told COSPP. “As you may know, the EPP Group has pioneered the Energy Union as we believe that the EU need greater reliance on own energy supplies at affordable prices for citizens and enterprises alike. We also welcome the plans in the Energy Union for increasing efficiency in the way we use our energy and the strong accent put on research and innovation into renewable energy sources. Also, energy efficiency projects worth of almost €200 million are supported through Horizon 2020 in 2014/2015 alone.”

Turning his attention to the European Fund for Strategic Investment, Loecke outlined where his party differed from Socialist and Green opinion.

“We agree that projects to achieve bigger energy efficiency will probably qualify for funding through the fund. We say probably as it makes no sense to earmark a portion of the fund to a very specific use. As you will recall, the whole idea of EFSI is to mobilize risk capital from the private sector. And responsible private sector investors of course has to make a professional assessment of the expected return on their investments.”

“Most people would agree that for instance pension funds which are likely to invest through EFSI should not put our savings for retirement at risk without have a prospect of a good return. That’s why the investments chosen has to be fit to the market. This will also assure that we get a ‘bigger bang for the buck’ – more growth, more jobs and more infrastructure and other investments for our money.”

Loecke concluded by also pointing out that some projects are not 100 percent viable from a pure private sector point of view.

“The European Union will – through the EFSI – take a bigger part of the risk than it normally does through its lending from The European Investment Bank. And hopefully, many of these projects will also target energy efficiency.”

On Friday, the Managing Director of Europe’s cogeneration lobby had emphasized the importance of enabling investment package funds in a bid to promote energy efficiency in the European Union.

COGEN Europe chief Fiona Riddoch told COSPP, “Energy efficiency is becoming the main dimension of the Energy Union Strategy and it is logical that investment package funds should be used to support energy efficiency investments in industries and cities, such as CHP.”