Monday

15th Apr 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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.

Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU

European environmental groups have urged the EU Commission to stand firm on implementing the bloc's landmark anti-deforestation legislation — despite a backlash from governments in South America, Africa and some EU ministers.

Analysis

'A race to the bottom': How the CAP green ambitions unravelled

The EU's easing of green agricultural policy conditions as a response to farmers' protests has sparked controversy. Critics fear that short-term quick fixes are not a solution for the sector, while others cite a CAP-Green Deal gap.

Opinion

This 'deregulation' lobbying now threatens EU economy

Next week's EU summit (17-18 April) will discuss the strategic agenda for the next five years. The current "competitiveness agenda" is to a large extent driven by a big lobbying campaign — so far, not well covered by the media.

Latest News

  1. How German police pulled the plug on a Gaza conference
  2. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  3. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  4. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  5. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  6. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  7. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  8. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us