Despite the European Commission’s assertion that such funding should end to meet climate change goals, European Union energy ministers will gather in Luxembourg on Friday to discuss extending EU financing for some cross-border natural gas projects.
The EU’s “TEN-E” guidelines determine which cross-border energy projects are eligible to be designated as Projects of Common Interest (PCI), granting them access to EU money and expedited licenses. The EU is updating the laws to meet its climate change goals, and the European Commission suggested a new version in December that does not include specialized oil and gas infrastructure.
Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner, said on Friday that she hoped the restrictions will eliminate financing for fossil-fuel projects. On Friday, EU energy ministers will meet to try to reach an agreement. The final rules must be negotiated with the European Parliament.
A proposal for the member states’ position, submitted by Portugal, would extend support for selected gas projects. This has caused a schism among the 27 countries, with 11 of them, including Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, advocating for laws that prohibit the use of fossil fuels, including gas.
The TEN-E policy will be a “litmus test” of the EU’s pledge to eliminate its net emissions by 2050. Portugal’s proposal said that until 2030 investments to retrofit gas pipelines to carry hydrogen should be allowed to carry natural gas blended with hydrogen. It further stated that projects with PCI status in the island nations of Malta and Cyprus should keep it until those countries are fully connected to the European gas network.
This could assist assure the completion of the Eastman pipeline, which will bring gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.