Belgium has the highest per capita subsidies for fossil fuels in Europe. This is evident from a study by Trends. According to the weekly, all the European Commission’s green and sustainable ambitions are likely to become a measure of nothing if it does not tackle subsidies for fossil fuels in Europe. However, Member States have little sense in scaling them back.
In all its green ambition, according to Trends, Europe is facing one major obstacle: fossil fuel subsidies. All Member States have substantial subsidies for the use of fossil fuels, such as coal, lignite, gas and oil.
These cash flows amount to a multiple of the 55 billion euros that the European Commission puts forward as an official figure. This is evident from research by the pan-European journalist collective Investigate Europe and Trends, which have listed all fossil fuel subsidies in all Member States.
EU Member States and the United Kingdom provide € 133 billion a year in financial aid for fossil fuel consumption. By comparison, the European annual budget is around 155 billion euros. This means that the countries spend as much per year on subsidies for oil, gas and coal as they contribute to the European budget.
In absolute figures, Germany is the leader with 34 billion euros per year. This is followed by the United Kingdom (19 billion), Italy (18 billion) and France (17.5 billion). Belgium is in sixth place with 6.8 billion euros.
Belgian salary cars
A side note for our country are the salary cars, according to the research. Estimates vary on how much they contribute to extra fuel consumption, but according to the European Commission, the Belgian treasury misses out on 3.7 billion euros in salary cars every year. This means that Belgium spends 597 euros per inhabitant on fossil fuel subsidies. Our country is the worst in relation to the number of inhabitants.
All these subsidy flows keep Europe from reaching its climate targets. By 2030, it wants to emit 40 percent less than in 1990. It will probably even be 55 percent. And by 2050, Europe wants to be climate neutral. That is not feasible if those subsidies continue to exist, says European Commissioner Frans Timmermans. “They will be phased out.”