Nicholas Watt

Brussels: The E.U.'s new members from eastern and central Europe are flouting guidelines by spending a ``paltry'' amount of their funds from Brussels on climate-friendly schemes, according to a report.

Friends of the Earth and the CEE Bankwatch Network found that a mere £2 billion out of the new members' £106 billion budget will be spent on sustainable energy projects. Poland and Hungary, the largest of the eight new EU members, are the ``worst culprits'', planning to spend 0.9 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

Low investment

The report says the low investment ``ridicules'' EU guidelines designed to encourage climate-friendly policies.

Magda Stoczkiewicz, policy coordinator at CEE Bankwatch Network, said: ``Central and eastern Europe has grossly wasteful energy usage ... Disappointingly, they are now given only paltry support in the proposed funding plans.''

The criticisms have been made after the two pressure groups examined the spending plans of seven of the eight new EU members from eastern and central Europe for the next EU budget, which runs from January until 2013. The spending plans encapsulate the global challenge in combating climate change.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006