EU Ombudsman Opens Inquiry Into Lack of Climate Assessment for Fossil Gas Projects

Activists push for scrutiny of subsidized fossil gas Projects of Common Interest list

Brussels—On Wednesday, 12 February, the European Parliament voted in favour of the 4th list of so-called Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, which includes 55 fossil gas projects, some of which are directly linked to imported fracked gas from the United States. But the EU’s handling of this list is coming under increased scrutiny, with the EU Ombudsman opening an official inquiry into the failure to consider the climate impacts of this new infrastructure.

The inquiry is a direct result of an official complaint filed with the Ombudsman on October 29 of last year by Andy Gheorghiu, Policy Advisor for Food & Water Europe, an environmental NGO based in Brussels. Despite the increasing pressure on the European Commission to avoid additional fossil fuel infrastructure, it adopted the Delegated Act establishing the fourth list of PCI projects – ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence about the negative climate impacts of fossil gas.

In addition to being bad policy, the 4th PCI list is non-compliant with EU Law and the Paris Agreement. At the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) meeting on October 17, 2019, Deputy Director of DG Energy Klaus-Dieter Borchardt admitted that the sustainability review mandate for PCI list-proposed projects, including the much needed climate/environmental assessment, has been ignored for over 6 years, calling into question the legality of every list to date, including the one just approved.

While the decision of the EU Ombudsman is highly welcome, the timing of its announcement raised concerns.

“The European Commission was notified about the EU Ombudsman’s inquiry. just two days before the vote of the European Parliament on the PCI list, and the public found out only after the vote”, said Andy Gheorghiu, Policy Advisor for Food & Water Europe. “Knowing about the Ombudsman’s decision to open up an inquiry into whether or not the PCIlist is non-compliant with EU Law and the climate targets would have influenced the decision of many MEPs to reject this list and return it to sender for review.”

Climate activists are calling on the EU Commission not to grant any actual funding to any of the fossil fuel projects on the current list before a proper comprehensive climate assessment has been conducted.

For more information contact:

Andy Gheorghiu, Policy advisor, Food & Water Europe
Tel. +49 160 20 30 974, email [email protected]

Official complaint

Letter of the EU Ombudsman