BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top climate official encouraged governments on Monday to attach green conditions to public support for coronavirus-hit companies, after the bloc’s executive opted not to do so at the EU level.
The European Commission, which approves state support schemes, updated its temporary rules on Friday for firms receiving government aid during the pandemic.
The new rules ban dividends, share buybacks and bonuses for bailed-out companies, for so long as the state holds a stake in them.
They do not attach climate-related conditions to EU approvals of state aid – despite calls from lawmakers and green groups to do so – and instead leave it to national governments to choose to add “green strings” to bailouts. […]
The EU executive has said its “Green Deal” plan to cut net EU greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 will guide the bloc’s economic recovery.
But it has proved unwilling to use state aid rules – which are designed to avoid distortions of competition – to link countries’ support schemes to climate goals. EU competition regulators said the current objective was to help virus-hit companies cope with liquidity and solvency issues.
Under its revised temporary state aid framework, unveiled on Friday, large firms must report on how they use public funds in line with the EU’s green goals. The framework does not require firms to use state funds to become greener, or oblige governments to attach climate conditions to support.
Member states are “free to design national measures in line with additional policy objectives” such as climate aims, it said.