MEPs urge Commission to put Green Deal on ice amid COVID-19 crisis

Nearly 40 MEPs have asked that the European Green Deal, a Commission flagship policy, is dropped for the time being due to the coronavirus crisis.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

01 Apr 2020

The MEPs, mostly from the ECR group, say the Coronavirus crisis will have “deep and far-reaching” economic and social consequences.

The EU “must do its utmost” for citizens, insist the members, and that includes “scaling back” the Commission’s “pre-crisis ambitions.”

A letter signed by 37 MEPs says the executive must “re-examine its priorities.”


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It adds that “now is the time” to “put pragmatism first” and all new legislative measures, including the Green Deal, are postponed to an indefinite date.

The letter was sent to Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli, presidents of the Commission, Council and Parliament respectively.

It is signed by, among others, Alexandr Vondra, a Czech member, Derk Jan Epping, from the Netherlands, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a former foreign affairs committee chair, Peter Lundgren, from Sweden, Beata Kempa, also from Sweden, Italian MEP Sergio Berlato and ECR joint leaders Jan Zahradil and Ryszard Legutko.

Dated 30 March, it says the EU faces an “unprecedented crisis” and the bloc “must lose no time building on the initiatives” it has taken so far to tackle the issue.

"Now is the time to put pragmatism first and to postpone new legislation under initiatives such as the European Green Deal" Letter from MEPs

It says the EU should also “re-prioritise” and “re-balance” the MMF, the EU’s next long-term budget, so that it is “one of the tools of economic recovery.”

The two-page letter also says that the EU was “slow” to react to the crisis but commends the actions it has taken in the last few weeks.

The Green Deal aims to put the EU at the forefront of tackling climate change and it is not known yet if the commission will agree to the demand but, speaking last week, a spokesman for the executive said, “At this point in time, we do not have any comment to make on any knock-on effect that this could have on legislative work in general.”

“For legislative activity to work, we need to have the institutions able to operate.”

He said the EU “will definitely have to prioritise their work in order to cater for the current needs.”

Vivian Loonela, Commission spokesperson for the European Green Deal, recently stated that “the long-term work on the Green Deal continues in parallel” to the coronavirus firefighting “and continues to be one of the priorities as well.”

The Commission announced its new European Green Deal to great fanfare last December. It is a set of major policy and legislative proposals that position the EU as the global leader on environmental and climate issues.

"At this point in time, we do not have any comment to make on any knock-on effect that this could have on legislative work in general" Commission spokesperson

Since then, the Commission has published a draft EU climate law and is seeking stakeholder input on potential revisions to the Energy Taxation Directive and on its proposed EU carbon border adjustment mechanism.

On March 4 it published a draft framework regulation that would make the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality objective legally binding.

The proposed regulation would commit the EU collectively to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The proposal also contemplates increasing the EU greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030 from a 40 percent reduction (compared to 1990 levels) to 50-55 percent.

Ursula von der Leyen has called climate policy the most pressing issue facing the EU.

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