Towards a European Green New Deal: the Climate Action priority of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen, President-designate of the European Commission, officially presented her team and the new structure of the next Commission, which will begin work starting November 1, 2019.

Frans Timmermans has been appointed as Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal. It will have a dual function, presiding over the group of commissioners on the European Green Deal, but also managing the climate action portfolio.

In the letter written by Ursula von der Leyen to Frans Timmermans very many passages that confirm the will to undertake courageous action against climate change, which has become a key priority for the Commission.

"Climate change, digital technologies and geopolitics are already having a profound effect on the lives of Europeans", the president underlined. "We are witnessing great changes from global power structures to local politics. While these transformations may be of a different nature, we must show the same ambition and determination in our response."

It therefore reiterates that the role and task of the European Commission will be to guide, seize opportunities and face the challenges that these changes present. Ursula von der Leyen also stresses the need for a new approach and way of working, based on cooperation, openness and inclusiveness.

In line with this new philosophy, the Commission will develop a new tool to implement a "One In, One Out" principle. Any legislative proposal that creates new burdens should relieve people and businesses of an equivalent burden existing at EU level in the same policy area. Furthermore, by implementing strong collaboration with Member States to ensure that unnecessary administrative burdens are not added when transposing EU legislation.

It is necessary to strengthen the ties between the people and the institutions that serve them, to reduce the gap between expectations and reality and to communicate what Europe is really doing.

In the letter addressed to Frans Timmermans very many passages dedicated to the fight against climate change and the European commitment to sustainable development: "Protecting our planet and our environment is the main task of our generation. It is an urgent moral obligation, human and political, which Europeans have blatantly told us they want their Union to fulfill. It is also a long-term economic imperative, those who act first and faster will be the ones who will seize the opportunities of the ecological transition."

"The European Green Deal should become the hallmark of Europe", emphasizes the President, "at the center of this is our commitment to becoming the first climate neutral continent. It will require collective ambition, political leadership and a right transition for the most affected".

These are the main points set out for a European Green New Deal, and of which the new nominee will have to take charge:

  • greater ambition regarding the European target of 2030 emission reduction
  • new international negotiations to increase the level of ambition of other major emission producers by 2021
  • concrete support for those most affected by the effects of climate change, such as those in industrial, coal and energy-intensive regions
  • introduction of a new biodiversity strategy by 2030
  • a zeropollution approach to drastically reduce air, water and noise pollution of transport, agriculture and food production, water quality, hazardous chemicals and other key sectors
  • reduction of the carbon footprint of the European transport sector
  • circular economy and introduction of the "Farm to Fork" strategy for new sustainable foods
  • introduction of new fiscal policies that make it possible to achieve European climate ambitions, including the so-called "Carbon Border Tax"

Furthermore, among the tasks of Frans Timmermans is to consolidate the long-term commitment of the European Union to the goal of Carbon Neutrality, among which:

  • approval of the first European climate law, to be adopted within the first 100 days of the mandate
  • ensuring the implementation of climate change legislative instruments, in particular the emissions trading system, the effort sharing regulation and the land use and forestry regulation
  • actively promote a new European climate culture

As a next step, the designated Commissioners will go through public hearings in the European Parliament committees responsible for their portfolios. Subsequently the commissaires' panel will have to be approved with a single vote of consensus by the EU parliament, during the October session in Strasbourg and subsequently by the European Council with qualified majority voting.

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Towards a European Green New Deal: the Climate Action priority of the European Commission