Today, Commission President von der Leyen presents her Green Deal for Europe to the plenary of the European Parliament. Sven Giegold, spokesperson for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament, said that the following points should be carefully considered:
1. Climate targets
It is an important step in the right direction that Ursula von der Leyen now tightens up the EU climate targets. The conflict between the Member States over climate neutrality in 2050 must not distract from action before 2030. The German government is not taking a position regarding the EU climate target for 2030. Merkel must not remain silent on the question of bigger CO2 savings. We need more ambition in Europe by 2030, even if this creates new tensions within the Council and the German grand coalition. The same applies to the other heads of state and government in the EU. Anyone who wants to be climate-neutral by 2050 must reduce CO2 emissions already today. Climate protection must not be put off for long. The EU’s current climate target for 2030 is clearly too low. Merkel should not refuse to support von der Leyen’s Green Deal right from the very beginning. Von der Leyen’s Green Deal can only be implemented with the support of European governments. Raising the 2030 climate target to 50% is a first step, but not yet sufficient. In order to comply with the Paris climate agreement, we need to reduce CO2 emissions by 65% by 2030. The fact that the EU summit in Brussels is held in parallel to the climate conference in Madrid is not sending a strong signal to the world. The European heads of government should be present in Madrid to underline the urgency of climate protection.
2. Agricultural and trade policy
A green deal without a new agricultural and trade policy is not serious. The Green Deal only deserves its name if all economic sectors that have a significant impact on the climate and the environment are included.
Industrial agriculture is a major cause of the climate crisis and species extinction. EU agricultural policy must therefore be fundamentally reformed. Agricultural subsidies need to come to an end. It is disappointing that von der Leyen has apparently already cashed in the plan to halve the use of pesticides by 2030 giving in to the outcry by pesticide manufacturers and farmers’ associations. The new EU Commissioner for Agriculture is also going in exactly the wrong direction by burying any hopes for fundamental changes to agricultural subsidies.
In addition to industrial agriculture, EU trade policy is driving up greenhouse gas emissions. In the future, free trade agreements must lead to lower emissions.
3. A Strategy for safe and sustainable chemicals
As part of her zero-pollution ambition, Ursula von der Leyen announced her plans for a comprehensive strategy to protect citizens from hazardous chemicals. To ensure effective protection, this strategy must be based on the precautionary principle and address four specific sources of hazard: nanomaterials, endocrine disruptors, combination effects and the reduction of exposure to chemicals in products. What the Juncker Commission has failed to implement for years, now has to be tackled by von der Leyen without delay.
An internal presentation of the EU Commission on the Green Deal included the widespread introduction of the “innovation principle”. If the Commission were to give in on this and put this invention of the chemical and tobacco industries before the precautionary principle, they would abuse the Green Deal to legitimize unsafe chemicals. This back door must remain closed to the industry. European chemicals policy must not be driven by the interests of industry, but must always serve the protection of citizens and strengthen the competitiveness of sustainable chemicals.
4. Decision on Sustainable Finance: Council threatens to burst the good compromise on classification of sustainable investments – from 10 a.m. on in the Committee of Permanent Representatives
Following the conclusion of negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament last Thursday, the compromise reached will be on the ambassadors’ agenda at 10 a.m. today. It remains to be seen whether the ambassadors will confirm the compromise, reject it or postpone the decision until next week and seek a renegotiation. Germany could block the compromise because Altmaier is against it within the German government. And that on the very day of Ursula von der Leyen’s Green Deal. A rejection of the German representatives could be motivated by the European Parliament’s right to have a say in the technical design of the classification or transparency obligations regarding the sustainability of large companies. The classification of sustainable investments (taxonomy) is at the heart of the EU’s overall strategy for sustainable financial markets. Without a taxonomy, an EU consumer label for sustainable financial products and an EU standard for green bonds would also fail. It’s about something today!
At 13:00 Ursula von der Leyen will hold a press conference on the Green Deal, which you can follow here: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/
At 14:00 Ursula von der Leyen will present her European Green Deal to the plenary session of the European Parliament and then take part in a debate. You can follow the session of the European Parliament here live, where I will also speak briefly: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/de/home.html