Climate and environment win centre stage in new European Commission | WWF

Climate and environment win centre stage in new European Commission

Posted on 10 September 2019
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WWF welcomes the appointment a Commission Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal, who will also act as Commissioner for Climate Change, and oversee the work of the Commissioners for Agriculture, Health, Transport, Energy, Cohesion and Reforms, as well as Environment and Oceans. His mandate letter empasises his responsibility to mainstream biodiversity priorities across all relevant policy areas. However, the proposed ‘one in, one out’ principle, which stipulates that for every new piece of legislation, an existing one in the same policy area should be scrapped, risks limiting increased ambition.

“The structure presented by Commission President-elect von der Leyen shows that she is following through on her climate and environmental promises by giving the highest level of attention to delivering on a European Green Deal,” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Frans Timmermans will also hold the climate portfolio and thus be in a strong position to ensure that climate action and environmental protection is mainstreamed throughout all other relevant sectors, such as agriculture, energy and transport. He will now need to work closely together with all Commissioners to achieve this mission.”

During the current legislative period, Frans Timmermans has demonstrated his strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. WWF calls on him to lead the European Commission to adopt an overarching EU strategy for the domestic implementation of the SDGs, which is urgently required for the European Green Deal to succeed.

Lithuanian Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius has been handed the environment and oceans portfolio, despite his lack of green credentials. His mission letter emphasises a strong focus on halting biodiversity loss both within Europe and globally, as well as addressing the pressures facing our ocean, from overfishing to plastic pollution. It is now up to the European Parliament to ensure in the upcoming hearing that he demonstrates strong leadership on climate neutrality, nature conservation and the protection of our ocean. 

“Overall, the picture looks good, but the devil is of course in the detail. The proposal to develop a ‘one in, one out’ instrument in order to limit the body of European legislation - including on the environment - risks having a chilling effect on initiatives needed to achieve the European Green Deal. Before approving the new College, Parliament must oppose this principle, should it undermine increased environmental and climate ambition,” said Ester Asin.
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