The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Development committees have adopted their joint position on the proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), supporting development, climate and environmental goals.

The Parliament improved on the European Commission’s proposal by agreeing to increase the climate and environment-spending target.

The NDICI merges most of the EU’s current external financing instruments, including the European Development Fund, into one broad instrument. Once in force, it will be the EU’s main tool to foster cooperation with non-EU countries in the neighbourhood and beyond, and to implement its international commitments, including deriving from the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Concretely, MEPs propose that 45% of NDICI funds should support climate and environmental objectives, the Parliament said.

The new instrument would also establish a framework (the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus) for external investments intended to raise additional financial resources for sustainable development from the private sector.

The text was approved by 46 votes in favour, with 6 against and 10 abstentions on March 4. The plenary will vote on the text during the March 25-28 plenary session in Strasbourg. In order to enter into force, the proposed NDICI would then have to be agreed between Parliament and Council.

According to Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, the agreed spending target of 45% going to climate objectives and environmental protection – of which 30% must go to climate action – is a clear improvement compared with the European Commission’s proposal of 25%. It will contribute to the Paris Agreement goal to mobilise $100 billion per year for developing countries from 2020, and strengthen the EU’s climate diplomacy efforts. None of the NDICI financings shall support fossil fuels or cause harm to the environment and climate, according to the text voted on March 4.

MEPs also ensured that the increased spending target and fossil fuel exclusion criteria will apply to the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) which blends the EU funds with private finance and is managed by the European Investment Bank.

“Members of the European Parliament have shown they understand the urgent need to bring external spending more in line with the Paris Agreement, and to boost support to developing countries to deal with climate change,” CAN Europe Climate and Development Policy Coordinator Rachel Simon said in a statement, adding that the agreed increase in climate and environment spending will support economic modernisation, job creation and bring multiple social and environmental benefits. And excluding fossil fuels from investments will support developing countries to leapfrog the dirtiest forms of energy infrastructure.

“Members of the European Parliament must stand firm, both on the 45% climate and environment spending target and the exclusion of fossil fuels, in the upcoming plenary vote on this instrument later in March and in the subsequent negotiations with the Council and Commission. This will be a litmus test of the EU’s climate leadership on the international scene.

On 20 February, the European Parliament’s environment committee called for the EU to reach zero emissions as early as possible and by 2050 at the latest. MEPs also backed increasing the EU’s 2030 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 40% to 55% – compared to 1990 levels.