Sven Giegold

Classification of sustainable investments: Macron blocks heart of green financial markets agenda

Today the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Council of EU Ministers (COREPER) met to take a decision on the compromise on the classification of sustainable investments (taxonomy). The compromise was reached last week in inter-institutional negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament. At today’s meeting, the representatives of the national governments blocked the compromise. They want to renegotiate with the European Parliament in particular on some points concerning the de facto exclusion of nuclear power. While Germany ultimately played a constructive role and gave up its reservations, France demanded an extension of the negotiating mandate instead of agreeing to the compromise. The Visegrad states, Romania and Bulgaria also opposed the compromise, while the United Kingdom abstained. Technically, there was no blocking minority against the compromise found last week due to the French request to renegotiate the text. However, the countries blocked the compromise because it makes it practically impossible to finance nuclear power through sustainable financial products. According to the Council of Ministers, another meeting of the Permanent Representatives is planned on 16 December and afterwards another inter-institutional negotiation with the European Parliament with the aim for Permanent Representatives to finally approve the final compromise on 18 December.

Sven Giegold, spokesman for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the European Parliament, declares:

“On the day of Commission President von der Leyen’s Green Deal, France is doing sustainable financial markets a major disservice. The French government blocked the compromise together with the Visegrad states, Romania, Bulgaria and the United Kingdom. Instead of supporting the compromise that would have been supported by a majority, France has called into question the overall success of the negotiations with its request for renegotiation of the anti-nuclear articles. Nuclear power in sustainable financial products would destroy the confidence of investors in many countries. With the blockade and the request for renegotiations, the French government is hampering the European fight against climate change and environmental degradation. The United Kingdom, of all countries, tipped the scales for a European future project, even though the country wanted to be outside EU already at this time. Fortunately, the German government has tried to save the compromise in the Council, despite initial reservations. However, Germany’s prolonged hesitation in recent months was certainly not conducive to a positive final agreement.

The European Parliament must not agree to any renegotiations if there is no actual blocking minority in the Council. France must abandon its blockade and withdraw its request for renegotiations. The French blockade in the Council further delays the foundation of the sustainable finance strategy. For years, France has been the strongest supporter of sustainable financial markets in Europe. The stubborn insistence on nuclear power in sustainable financial products endangers the success of the whole project. The Council is thus slowing progress on the consumer label for sustainable financial products and the European standard for green bonds which will be based on the classification.”

Link to my press release on the conclusion of the trilogue negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the Member States and the European Commission on 5 December:

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