Tuesday

24th May 2022

Von der Leyen gives Timmermans green deal

EU Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen assigned on Tuesday (10 September) the management of climate action policy to Dutch social democrat Frans Timmermans, who will coordinate the European 'Green Deal' - with the support of the directorate-general for climate action (DG Clima).

The new EU commission seems decided to give a greater deal of importance to climate action in the next five years since this portfolio was assigned to one of three executive vice-presidents.

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

"Protecting our planet and our shared environment is our generation's defining task," said von der Leyen, adding that the new EU commission's commitment is to become "the world's first climate-neutral continent".

According to the first female head of the commission, climate not only should be seen as an "urgent moral, human and political obligation" but also as "long-term economic imperative" based on the opportunities that the ecological transition will offer.

In the first 100 days of the mandate, Timmermans should propose the first European climate law under a new European climate pact - that will bring together social actors across Europe to create a "new climate culture in Europe".

It is unclear how far the new commission will strengthen the bloc's 2030 climate targets, under the international review of the 2015 Paris Agreement scheduled for next year.

The 2030 climate and energy framework includes EU-wide targets and policy objectives for the period between 2021 and 2030, including at least 40 percent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have to be more ambitious when it comes to our 2030 emission reduction target," stated von der Leyen, who initially supported emission cuts to at least 50 percent by 2030.

Others of the duties assigned to Timmermans include protecting European diversity, working for zero-pollution ambition, coordinating efforts for an effective circular economy, and ensuring tax policies regarding climate action.

To do so, Timmermans will have to work hand-in-hand with the youngest of the commissioners, Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevičius who is in charge of the 'environment and oceans' portfolio - as well as with the commissioner for agriculture (Janusz Wojciechowski), health (Rovana Plumb), transport (Rovana Plumb), energy (Elisa Ferreira) or cohesion policies (Elisa Ferreira).

Unconvinced

The president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, Ska Keller, was positive about von der Leyen's decision to give the climate portfolio to Timmermans since this makes climate "a priority" for this incoming commission.

However, "executive vice-president for the 'European Green Deal' is a huge undertaking and a lot of priorities for one person," she added.

The Greens/EFA are ready to work constructively with the new commission "to build ambitious proposals to save the planet" said Keller, who warned von der Leyen that her party will be "watching closely" in order to ensure that "nice words [are] translate[d] into action".

Grillings

"President von der Leyen said that climate protection and sustainable development is a priority, [but] almost none of the proposed commissioners have a strong track record on these" stated the director of Brussels-based climate NGO Friends of the Earth Europe Jagoda Munić.

The NGO called on the EU parliament "to push nominees to prove their climate credentials in their hearings" that will take place from 30 September to 8 October. 

"Increased militarisation and closed borders – as suggested by the creation of a new defence department - will not make us feel safer. Action on the ecological and climate emergency will," Munić said.

EUobserved

Does Juncker even know what is in the Paris climate deal?

'To fix new goals again and again, doesn't make sense,' said the president of the European Commission. However, repeatedly ratcheting-up climate ambition is a key part of what was agreed in Paris.

Use 25% of budget on climate change, urge EU states

A discussion document by eight EU countries is piling on the pressure for the EU to do more to fight climate change. But their demands are likely to meet German resistance as leaders gather in Romania to discuss Europe's future.

Magazine

ENVI to deliver 'Green Deal' as main priority

The French liberal MEP Pascal Canfin, who is chairing the European Parliament's committee on environment, public health, and food safety, is adamant to deliver the Green Deal quickly - because "we cannot afford to waste time".

Timmermans to end EU climate 'contradictions'

Fossil fuel subsidies should end and there is "no future in coal", the EU's would-be green commissioner, Frans Timmermans, has said in his pledge to make the EU carob neutral.

Opinion

Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

The new migration commissioner's job title, "Protecting our European way of life", rings not of pan-European solidarity or federalism - but is incorporated from the playbook of the extreme right.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

News in Brief

  1. France 'convinced' Ukraine will join EU
  2. Von der Leyen: Russia hoarding food as 'blackmail'
  3. Legal action launched against KLM over 'greenwashing'
  4. Orbán refuses to discuss Russia oil embargo at EU summit
  5. Turkey's Erdogan snubs Greek PM
  6. ECB: Crypto may pose a risk to financial stability
  7. UK PM Johnson faces renewed questions over Covid party
  8. Sweden gives 5th Covid shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  2. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June
  3. 'No progress in years' in Libya, says UN migration body
  4. Toxic pesticide residue in EU fruit up 53% in a decade
  5. Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental
  6. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back
  7. EU aims to seize Russian assets amid legal unclarity
  8. Close ties with autocrats means security risk, Nato chief warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us