13 April 2022

Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to the European Union and to the world. To overcome these challenges, the Green Transition, one of the main focus points funded by NEXT Generation EU, has the ambition to transform the EU-member states into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economies. The aim is to boost the economy through green technology, create sustainable industry and transport, and cut pollution

What is NEXT Generation EU? 

Next Generation EU (NGEU) is a temporary recovery instrument to help repair the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is the centerpiece of NGEU with loans and grants available to support reforms and investments undertaken by EU countries. 

To access NGEU funds, each Member State is required to develop a National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), setting out a coherent package of reforms and investment for the period 2021-26. 

Ambitions for the Green Transition 

The Recovery and Resilience Fund is included in the NextGenerationEU framework. The aim of the 672.5 billion euro fund is to support public investments, especially in digitalization and in the quest for a greener Europe, while making national economies more resilient and better prepared for the future. 

The NGEU Recovery Program is centered around three pillars that must be considered in every Member States’ National Plan and follow a minimum percentage of total funding to be allocated.

The Belgian National RRP will be supported by 4.5 billion euro in grants. 50% of the plan will support climate objectives. 

The key green measures of the Belgian National RRP 

The challenges the Belgian federal governments deals with for the green transition include:  

  • Important renovation needs of the building stock to increase its energy efficiency 
  • Making mobility and the transport sector more sustainable 
  • Increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix 
  • Also, biodiversity, land use and water bodies are under pressure 

Based on the challenges, the government developed its key green measures:

The plan supports the green transition through investments of over 1 billion euro in the energy-efficient renovation of buildings, including social housing.  

Furthermore, 1.3 billion euro will be invested in sustainable mobility, mostly by improving railway infrastructure, financing green public buses, deploying electric charging stations, developing urban public transport and creating or refurbishing cycling pathways.  

In addition, there is the promotion of electric road transport by limiting preferential tax treatment of company cars to zero-emission vehicles by 2026.  

The plan supports the decarbonisation of the energy sector by promoting the use of hydrogen as an energy source, with an investment of 540 million euro.  

On biodiversity and climate change adaptation 400 million euro will be invested for reconnecting ecosystems, enhancing protected natural areas, forests and wetlands and for structural measures to sustainably manage water availability thereby increasing climate change resilience. 

How do regions organize their projects based on the National Green Transition? 

The Green Transition of Belgium is divided by three main components, which serves for inspiration for the regional RRP’s and its green projects. 

1.- Renovation of buildings 

The main objective is to renovate existing buildings and make them more energy and resource efficient: 

  • Public buildings 
  • Social infrastructure 
  • Residential buildings 
  • The worst performing buildings 

This component contributes to:  

  • The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 
  • The development of jobs and growth in sustainable construction  
  • Social resilience through lower energy bills 

2.- The rise of energy technologies 

This component refers to technological developments that support the energy transition and system integration to further reduce CO2 emissions, with a focus on industrial sectors.  

  • Electrification 
  • Green hydrogen as feedstock and energy carrier 
  • CO2 capture, utilisation and storage 
  • Heat grids 
  • Offshore wind energy  

The ambition is to ensure the sustainable anchoring of the industry and develop new future-oriented sectors, all as part of an integrated energy system.  

3.- Climate and environment 

The aim is to preserve and redevelop biodiversity through the sustainable use and restoration of forests, wetlands, meandering rivers and grasslands. Moreover, these measures contribute to:  

  • The sequestration of CO2 and the creation of sinks for other greenhouse gases 
  • Preparations for climate change by improving water management and infrastructure 
  • Strengthening the resilience to drought and heavy rainfall  
  • Increase the benefits to agriculture, tourism, citizens and the environment 

Environment is a regional competence in Belgium. In accordance with the geographic and spatial differences between Flanders and Wallonia, Flanders focuses more on water management challenges, while Wallonia focuses more efforts on the sustainability of forest areas. 

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to accompany you on the new NextGenerationEU path. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse how your project fits into the NextGenerationEU European recovery fund and to take the next steps together with you. 

Yvette Poumpalova

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