Brussels – EU finance ministers have agreed new national debt and deficit rules that would heavily impact governments’ ability to pay for the transition to clean energy and transport, sustainable farming and nature restoration, Greenpeace has warned.

The deal follows months of negotiations where Germany and other countries won support for more stringent debt reduction, forcing some countries, such as France, Italy or Spain, to cut government spending. 

Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said: “Finance ministers are irresponsibly cutting Europe’s ability to pay for the green transition. It’s clear that government investment is needed to help farmers switch to ecological methods, to insulate people’s houses to save energy, boost public transport and all the changes essential to protect nature and halt climate breakdown. Instead, EU governments want to usher in austerity for people and nature without challenging the billions in public money subsidising fossil fuels, or taxing the richest in our societies.” 

The European Commission has estimated that an additional €620 billion per year is needed to meet the objectives of its European Green Deal and RepowerEU plans, and although most of this is expected to come from private finance, government spending will also be crucial. EU governments provided €123 billion in public money to fossil fuel companies in 2023, according to the EU Environment Agency. 
The European Parliament agreed its position on EU fiscal rules in a vote in early December 2023. The Council agreement will be followed by three-way negotiations between the European Commission, national EU governments and the European Parliament next year. A final decision is expected in February 2024.


Ariadna Rodrigo, Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner: +32 (0)479 99 69 22, [email protected] 

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. We do not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties. Greenpeace has over three million supporters, and 26 independent national and regional organisations with offices in more than 55 countries.