Timmermans put in charge of Green New Deal plan

The new European Commission has tasked Frans Timmermans to oversee the development of a European Green Deal as the bloc bids to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent.

Dutch social democrat Frans Timmermans was nominated yesterday by European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen to coordinate the European Green Deal and to manage climate action policy. 

In announcing Mr Timmermans’ nomination, Ms von der Leyen expressed her intention for the European Green Deal to become “Europe’s hallmark” and saw it as a “long-term economic imperative”. 

The announcement follows a promise from Ms von der Leyen to present a Green Deal for Europe within 100 days of taking office on 1 November. 

In Mr Timmermans’ dual role, he will also coordinate the new Just Transition Fund and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and he will also work on transport and sustainable food.  Prior to his nomination, Mr Timmermans led the EU’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. . 

Climate Promises

Ms von der Leyen has made various commitments for climate action, including a climate-neutral EU by 2050, a carbon border tax, and a 2030 emission reduction target of at least 50 per cent. 

“For both climate and the environment, the next five years will be crucial, so we welcome all efforts to deliver an ambitious Green Deal,” European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Secretary General Jeremy Wates said in response to Mr Timmermans’ nomination. 

However, the EEB remains “concerned” at the lack of green credentials of some of the new candidates put forward in the Commission. 

Director of Friends of the Earth Europe Jadoga Munic also shared this concern, finding that “almost none of the proposed Commissioners” have a strong track record on climate protection, calling on the European Parliament to push nominees to prove their climate credentials in upcoming hearings. 

Greenpeace Europe stressed that Ms von der Leyen’s plan “falls short of what science demands”, saying that while she sells “her set of commissioners as a green dream team”, what she has laid out is not yet adequate. 

“To limit climate breakdown and avoid ecological collapse – and to do it fairly – we need a reordering of all sectors of Europe’s economy so that they work for nature and people, from energy to transport, and farming to fisheries,” Greenpeace EU Deputy Director Magda Stoczkiewicz said. 

Citing IPCC research, Greenpeace has called on Ms von der Leyen to present plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65 per cent by 2030 and set her sights on net zero emissions by 2040. 

Birdlife Europe has called Ms von der Leyen’s proposed Commission a “promising Green Start”, and applauded her for “giving real power” to Mr Timmermans and for “putting teeth” into her European Green Deal promises. 

However, Birdlife Europe and other European NGOs have been very critical of Ms von der Leyen’s proposal of a “One in, One Out Rule”, which proposes that for every legislative proposal creating a new burden, it should relieve people and businesses of an equivalent existing burden at the EU level in the same policy area. 

“Saving our planet cannot be a zero-sum game,” Birdlife Europe has said, calling on members of the European Parliament to “get rid of this failed idea”. 

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