EU criticised for funding environmental damage in new states

The EU will damage the environment of Eastern Europe by allocating billions of euros to a host of controversial infrastructure projects, including waste incinerators, dams and motorways, campaigners have warned.

A planned hazardous waste incinerator in Bulgaria that would harm human health and the environment in the already heavily polluted region of Stara Zagora is one of 22 projects pinpointed by critics as environmentally or socially damaging.

NGOs Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth have published a map of the controversial projects, most of which are still in the planning phase and can be prevented, they say.

The EU is about to pour 157bn euros into Eastern European infrastructure through its Structural and Cohesion Funds. The critics say that 6bn of this is would go to damaging investments that clash with the EU’s own goals.

Martin Konecny of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Some of the projects we have identified are simply unnecessary, while better alternatives exist in all the other cases.”

“The EU funds are an important instrument to support the poorer regions of Europe. But environmental assessment laws need to be enforced so that these six billion euros can be invested to secure a sustainable future for central and eastern Europe.”

Roads and motorways through protected areas, incinerators instead of recycling plants, and dams that would destroy cultural and natural heritage are on the Bankwatch list of unethical EU investments.

Among them is the Nieszawa dam in Poland, a large reservoir planned on the Vistula river that would destroy unique wildlife habitats while failing to reduce flood risk, say the NGOs.

Bankwatch’s Magda Stoczkiewicz said: “The projects shown in this map are on a collision course with the EU’s own policies and goals. They damage the environment, have socially adverse effects, are economically unjustified or are legally deficient.”

The map can be seen at the Bankwatch website.

By Goska Romanowicz

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