Discussion session: environmentally harmful subsidies

2012 EEEN Forum / Evaluation

Kris Bachus, HIVA – KU Leuven; Patrick ten Brink, Institute for European Environmental Pol­icy (IEEP); Frans Oosterhuis, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at VU University Amsterdam

Environmentally harmful subsidies (EHS) have been the subject of several international studies in the past decade. The European Commission, the OECD and the G-20 are just a few of the many important international fora and insti­tutions that have shown a rapidly increasing interest in this topic. Nowadays, it is considered to be an important obstacle in the transition towards a low-carbon and a resource efficient economy.

Evaluating the environmental and sustainability impact of subsidies is an important challenge, which will provide governments the much needed data and information they need for setting-up reform programmes.

IEEP has been a frontrunner in studying this issue for many years, publishing several studies at the request of the European Commission. HIVA-KU Leuven has also recently finished a study on the sus­tainability of a number of exist­ing subsidies in Flanders. Both research institutes join forces to organ­ise a discussion session on this topic.

This contribution consists of two presentations, each followed by questions from the audience:

–    Kris Bachus: ‘sustainability of Flemish subsidies: case studies on direct payments and the reno­vation subsidy’;

–    Patrick ten Brink: ‘Developing a roadmap for subsidy reform: methodological steps and policy challenges’.

After the two presentations a panel discussion will be organised with the two speakers, joint by Frans Oosterhuis, who is also an expert in the field of EHS. Possible discussion items:

–    How can subsidies be designed to make them work?

–    What is the natural lifetime for a subsidy?

–    Political economy: how important is lobbying of the current receiving groups of subsidies? Will an ambitious subsidy reform be punished at the next election?

–    Does the economic crisis create opportunities for subsidy reform?

–    What role for evaluation in designing and reforming subsidy programmes?

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