Sunday

4th Dec 2016

EU climate talk spotlights commission's gas-guzzling cars

  • It's all very well preaching green policy, but which VIP wants to give up his black Mercedes? (Photo: European Community, 2006)

EU commissioners are finding themselves under scrutiny to see if they are putting into practice the green values that Brussels is increasingly preaching, with most of the 120-strong fleet of officials cars comprising gas-guzzling, C02-emitting giants.

The big vehicles that make up the chauffeured cars for commissioners sits uneasily with the executive's newly minted green credentials, which sees it raising the importance of the fight against climate change almost daily.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

At the moment, the vast majority of the 27 commissioners use the standard-issue vehicles such as Audis or Mercedes – high on security features but rather lower on environment friendliness - to be ferried here and there across Brussels; sometimes even the few hundred metres between commission buildings.

The rest of the fleet consists of vans, minibuses and cars used to transport goods and documents.

However with his service car up for renewal, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas may blow in a wind of change. The Greek lawyer is to change from his S-class German Mercedes to a Japanese service car - probably a Lexus hybrid.

Mr Dimas' decision has taken on a political dimension, as he is engaged in a public spat with the German car industry which is strongly opposed to his plans to force car manufacturers to build vehicles that emit a maximum of 120 grammes of CO2 per kilometre.

It has also raised the question of whether other commissioners are planning to follow suit.

A commission spokesperson said "It's an individual decision for commissioners what their service car should be but as a general rule, the commissioners choose cars that are functional and safe for what they are doing."

Brussels also pointed out that energy efficiency is now a part of its criteria for public tenders for buildings and computers but also cars, and that some of its transport vehicles have been exchanged for the more eco-friendly Volkswagen Polos.

But on the private front, as in the public, the commission is sending out mixed messages on its environment saving efforts.

EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs recently traded in his Renault Megane for a biofuel-run Saab, anti-fraud commissioner Siim Kallas is an avid cyclist being president of the Estonian cyclist union while commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso drives a fuel-guzzling Volkswagen SUV.

Austrians ponder shift to far right

Austrian voters will on Sunday decide whether to stay in the EU centre, or lurch to the radical right, with Hofer slightly ahead in polls ahead of the presidential election.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security