European Commission Calls for Regional Investments in Sustainable Growth

27 January 2011: The European Commission has issued a Communication titled "Regional Policy Contributing to Sustainable Growth in Europe 2020," urging the use of EU regional policy funds to finance sustainable growth projects.

Priorities for investment fall into three areas: energy efficiency, renewables and decarbonizing transport; protection of ecosystem services, biodiversity, adaptation to climate change, including screening for climate resilience, and natural disaster prevention; and eco-innovation through the deployment of information and communication technologies and "green clusters." Proposals to help improve the quality of investment include applying principles such as energy efficiency throughout the project cycle, and greater use of green public procurement.

The Communication includes the following recommendations: regions and cities should seize new opportunities available for energy investments in buildings; authorities should prioritize projects enhancing resource efficiency in transport and green infrastructure; EU programmes and projects should be screened for climate resilience, and climate change should be addressed in territorial planning, particularly in areas linked to sea or river basins; and preference should be given to projects increasing efficiency in water re-utilisation, waste prevention and recycling.

In the current budget for the EU's regional policy, €105 billion is available to fund projects for sustainable growth. The Commission is expected to leverage additional resources with other partners, in particular international financial institutions. [EU Press Release][The Communication]