European Union countries on Wednesday (22 September) pushed back their deadline to object to the EU’s proposed rule book for green investments, giving themselves another two months to scrutinise the politically sensitive policy.
The EU’s “sustainable finance taxonomy” is a list of economic activities and the rules they must meet to be labelled as green investments, starting next year. Aimed at stamping out “greenwashing”, Brussels hopes the rules will steer private capital into truly climate-friendly projects.
EU countries are scrutinising the European Commission’s proposal for the first section of the taxonomy, which defines “green” investments in sectors including transport and heavy industry.
With the delay, representatives from EU countries will now have until early December, instead of October, to scrutinise the rules, according to a public document for the representatives’ meeting.
During that period, a majority of countries or the European Parliament could object to the taxonomy proposal and block it.
The Commission in the coming months is due to propose a second set of taxonomy rules addressing gas and nuclear, after it delayed decisions on them amid lobbying by EU governments. EU countries are particularly divided over whether the EU should label investments in gas power plants and nuclear energy as green.
By extending their scrutiny period of the first proposal to December, EU states will be able to assess the two sets of rules side by side, before they decide to object or accept them.
Countries including France and Hungary are strong supporters of nuclear power, and say investments the low-carbon energy source should be encouraged to fight climate change.
Others, including Austria and Luxembourg, are opposed. A legal analysis commissioned by the Austrian government, seen by Reuters, argues that nuclear investments should not be labelled green, citing concerns over accidents and the disposal of nuclear waste.
One EU official said the analysis suggested Austria may consider legal action if the EU included nuclear in the taxonomy.