4th Dec 2023

Hoekstra faces tough questioning to be EU Green chief

  • Dutch ex-minister and former Shell official turned would-be EU climate commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra has in the past aligned closely with fossil-fuel interests, critics say (Photo: Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken)
Listen to article

Incoming EU climate commissioner-designate Wopke Hoekstra is set to face tough questions from MEPs on Monday evening (2 October).

Members of the environmental committee will have three hours to grill the Netherlands' Hoekstra, who was nominated to replace Frans Timmermans as climate commissioner in August.

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

"We are very sceptical. We do not see that an EPP guy can become a climate commissioner," Greens MEP Michael Bloss said at a press conference on Monday.

The EPP, of which Hoekstra's Christian Democratic party is a part, has shifted gears in recent months and opposed or watered-down a slew of green proposals, Bloss said, including the nature restoration law and the 2035 ban on combustion engines, causing the Greens to demand an accelerated climate agenda.

The appointment of a new climate commissioner is crucial as the EU prepares for the UN climate change conference in November. But before being accepted, he will need to convince two-thirds of the parliamentary committee members.

"I hear a lot of scepticism, so if Hoekstra doesn't turn into a superhero tonight, I think it is going to be very difficult," said Bloss.

The climate committee could outright reject Hoekstra's appointment tonight or push for a second hearing if MEPs remain unconvinced, in which case a plenary vote in parliament will be pushed back, creating uncertainty over the EU preparedness in Dubai, where the climate conference is held.

One issue Hoekstra will be interrogated about is his past career at Shell.

"He was a Shell guy 20 years ago, and now he has to become the guy facing Shell," Bloss said. "That means that at the next climate conference we really have to [agree to] phase out fossil fuels."

Ahead of Monday's hearing, a petition against Hoekstra has been signed by over 100,000 people. Over 50 organisations , including Corporate Europe Observatory, signed a letter calling on parliament to reject Hoekstra.

"We believe Hoekstra is not the right person for this crucial position. Not only does he lack expertise and experience in dealing with climate change issues, he also has a history of aligning very closely with fossil fuel interests," the organisations wrote.

Other issues Hoekstra might be quizzed about are a potential ban on private jets, CO2 storage, land use or animal welfare.

Although these topics require detailed knowledge, the former leader of the Dutch Labour Party, Diederik Samsom, Timmerman's right-hand man, has reportedly briefed Hoekstra in detail.

In his letter to parliament, Hoekstra supported more climate action.

"I would uphold the commission's commitment to the full European Green Deal and will ensure that the policies in my remit will make it to the finish line," he wrote.

He also made clear he supported the EU nature restoration law, which his party colleague Esther de Lange and EPP president Manfred Weber had strongly opposed.


Will EU climate chief Hoekstra come clean before COP28?

As the new EU climate commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra, heads to COP28, three senior MEPs question his ties to the fossil-fuel industry — and call for him to disclose all his ties while working for 11 years for McKinsey.


The Green Deal is gonna need a European Climate Fund

The last few months have brought increasing clarity on the legislative framework underpinning the European Green Deal — but very little clarity on the key question of how this will be financed.


What are the big money debates at COP28 UN climate summit?

The most critical UN climate conference (COP28) ever will run from Thursday to mid-December — with talks on climate commitments and climate finance expected to determine the success of this year's summit.

Latest News

  1. Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head
  2. EU public procurement reform 'ineffective', find auditors
  3. COP28 warned over-relying on carbon capture costs €27 trillion
  4. Optimising Alzheimer's disease health care pathways across Europe
  5. Georgian far-right leader laughs off potential EU sanctions
  6. The EU's U-turn on caged farm animals — explained
  7. EU-China summit and migration files in focus This WEEK
  8. COP28 debates climate finance amid inflated accounting 'mess'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us