Wednesday

27th Oct 2021

Italy, Poland threaten to veto EU climate package

Italy and Poland have threatened to veto the European Union's package to tackle climate change, saying their economies cannot bear the added burden that emissions reductions would impose.

"I have announced my intention to exercise my veto," Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters at the European Summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday (15 October). "Our businesses are in absolutely no position at the moment to absorb the costs of the regulations that have been proposed."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Mr Berlusconi at the summit - France believes he'll come round in the end (Photo: eu2008.fr)

The remarks echoed that of Polish leaders earlier in the day. Warsaw is opposed to language in an agreement between the EU chiefs that commits the bloc to finalising a deal on the climate package in December.

"Poland is ready to veto if there are attempts to force us to accept the climate-change package in the next month," said the country's foreign minister, Radek Sikorksi, at the summit.

Poland's Europe minister, Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, repeated the threat, saying: "We certainly don't see the conditions for early agreement if we don't find better burden-sharing inside the package."

The key issue for Poland, alongside Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia, is the use of 2005 as the baseline year for setting new emissions targets, rather than 1990. They argue that they made significant cuts in carbon emissions after 1990.

Critics of this position say that these reductions were only due to the economic decline that followed the fall of Communism.

But the eastern Europeans say this was coincidental and that there were serious investments made at the time in more modern, cleaner technologies, pointing to how emissions did not noticeably increase after their economies improved.

Berlusconi 'will come round'

Speaking to reporters late on Wednesday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, whose country currently chairs the six-month rotating EU presidency, said he believed his Italian friend "who I've known for a long time" would come round in the end.

"[Mr Berlusconi] made some good points, saying they have a problem with off-shoring jobs already," he said. "And he's quite right. We can't blame him. He's playing his role," Mr Sarkozy explained. "But we have a historic responsibility here."

Referring to the eastern nations, the French leader said: "Some countries said we should drop the timetable. We cannot find in two and a half months that we haven't found an agreement."

"But we are not going to do what we normally do, which is hand off the whole thing to the next presidency. We are not going to do that."

He conceded that "We have to take into account the concerns of our members," however, adding "there is some room for flexibility."

At the same press conference, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was more blunt: "We have to be frank - the situation is difficult. There was a lot of pressure that we should be more prudent, more cautious," while underscoring that there remained "a consensus on objectives."

"Our responsibility goes beyond the present moment. The future of the planet is in our hands."

A source close to the discussions told EUobserver that the two member states were likely to give in eventually. "Italy and Poland were very much in the minority and put in their place," the contact said.

Last throw of the dice

Green Luxembourg MEP Claude Turmes meanwhile told this paper that he thought Poland and Italy were making a last ditch negotiating play.

"They very vigorously defended their corner today as they knew today was the last day they had a chance of delaying the opening negotiations [on the climate package] between the parliament, the council and the commission.

"The French presidency has told [key MEPs] they are eager to open the [tripartite negotiations] in the first week of November, and at that point, the role of individual member states decreases," he said.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.

Investigation

Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

News in Brief

  1. US to add last three EU states to visa-waiver list
  2. German ministry gives thumbs up to Russian pipeline
  3. EU regulator foresees endless battles with Facebook
  4. UK fears three migrants drowned in Channel
  5. Israel joins EU science scheme, despite Palestine clause
  6. Upcoming flu season 'could be severe', EU agency warns
  7. Ukraine wins Dutch case on Crimea gold
  8. Most Poles want Warsaw to back down in EU dispute

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Environment ministers continue dogfight on energy price hike
  2. Most lawmakers unhappy with lead MEP's asylum bill
  3. More transparency on EU media owners planned for 2022
  4. Europe's deadly border policies
  5. 'Brussels So White' needs action, not magical thinking
  6. How to break the political deadlock on migration
  7. Hedegaard on the hazards of stalling climate action
  8. Belarus exiles in EU fear regime-linked murderers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us