Friday

30th Jul 2021

Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon

  • Taxation on carbon would allow the EU to develop climate policies - while protecting Europe's economy and industry against carbon-emitting competitors beyond its borders (Photo: European Commission)

The commissioner for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said on Thursday (23 January) that governments across Europe have the responsibility to look at taxes to ensure a sustainable future and climate-neutrality by 2050.

"We need to tax carbon and we need to reduce tax on labour," he told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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

"This shift needs to happen, but many countries are resilient because it creates financial insecurity," he said, adding that European authorities need to show that carbon emissions themselves have a cost.

Last December, the European Commission presented the Green Deal, which included the possibility of having a "carbon border adjustment mechanism" for selected sectors.

This would allow the EU to develop climate policies while protecting Europe's economy and industry against carbon-emitting competition from outside.

"There is no point in only reducing greenhouse gas emissions at home if we increase the import of CO2 from abroad," the EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Wednesday.

"It is not only a climate issue, but it is also an issue of fairness (…) towards our businesses and our workers," she added, inviting trading partners to work with Europe for a global level-playing field, beneficial for all.

However, according to the prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, industries must play a major role in the dialogues and implementation of the Green Deal as stakeholders - since it will take about 25 years to transform each industrial sector and all the value chains.

"I don't think we can solve this problem without the participation of the industry and big companies because they can provide leadership in terms of infrastructure," he told the audience in Davos.

The Netherlands has committed to cut emissions by 49 percent by 2030, but this will only be possible "if there are job opportunities and economic growth," said Rutte.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, also said during her speech at Davos that industrialised nations have a "technological obligation" to address climate change in terms of both industry and policy.

Greek coal promise

The prime minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, committed to close all lignite coal plants in Greece by 2028 not only to comply with the European Green Deal but also "because burning brown coal it does not make economic sense anymore".

"We all known which energy sources will be important in the future: natural gas will be important in the middle term and renewable energy will be important from day one," he said.

However, Mitsotakis warned Timmermans about the cost of this transition, which will demand a bigger contribution of member states to the long-term EU's budget or a redistribution of other funds.

"The Green Deal has been very well-received among all political families in Europe, but the difficulties will arrive once we start committing real money," Mitsotakis said.

The commission unveiled earlier this month its one trillion euro investment plan to put Europe on track to reach the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal, while also helping coal-producing regions to move away from fossil fuels.

However, the ongoing negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) might not give the green light to the numbers presented by the commission.

According to Timmermans, "we can no longer say that we cannot afford to do it".

"If we create vertical and horizontal synergies between companies and investors we can mobilise the money," he added.

Feature

Dutch case opens new era for climate-change litigation

Legal action related to climate change is set to grow considerably in the next few years - especially after a largely-overlooked ruling over Christmas by a Dutch court forced the government to reduce its emission by 25 percent by 2020.

Commission's €1 trillion bet on green deal financing

The European Commission unveiled on Tuesday its sustainable investment plan to put Europe on track to reach the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal - while helping coal-producing regions to move away from fossil fuels.

MEPs agree carbon border tax - heavy industries protected

Green groups warned that if heavy industry continues to receive free allowances even after a carbon border levy is in place, this would essentially be a double subsidy for those sectors. "The European Commission must correct this," the WWF warned.

Podcast

Standing up to bullies with Frans Timmermans

To succeed Timmermans needs to stand up to governments and vested interests rushing to reboot economies crashed by the coronavirus. That means ensuring the trillions of euros the EU and its member states spend transform rather than entrench polluting industries.

News in Brief

  1. Officials worried at infection-surge on Greek holiday islands
  2. EU calls on online platforms to tackle vaccine hesitancy
  3. Russia accused of falling short on Sputnik V deliveries
  4. France: UK quarantine rules 'discriminatory'
  5. Italy's government reaches deal on judicial reform
  6. EU adopts guidelines to 'climate-proof' infrastructure projects
  7. US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation
  8. EU to buy 220,000 supplies of potential Covid treatment

EU faces long wait for full vaccine supplies

The EU is still several months away from having enough vaccines to inoculate its 450 million people, with Pfizer and BioNTech, its principle suppliers, aiming for September for delivery targets.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Malta responsible for journalist's death, inquiry finds
  2. Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?
  3. EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension
  4. Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling
  5. Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose
  6. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  7. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  8. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us