Timmermans counters 12 EU ministers' climate policy rush-job demand

EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, who is overseeing the union's new climate policy, shoots a retort to the 12 member states that sent him a letter urging a swift new carbon reduction target. 
Photo: John Thys/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: John Thys/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix


A letter sent by ministers from 12 European member states to EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, who is responsible for the union's climate policy plans, didn't get a very warm reception. The address urged the Commission to present a new proposal for upgrading the EU's 2030 CO2 reduction target by June at the latest.

At present, the goal is 40 percent, and the EU Commission plans to raise it to 50-55 percent but only after compiling a comprehensive impact analysis.

For that reason, the proposal will most likely not arrive before summer, Timmermans said at Wednesday press conference as he presented a proposal for a new climate policy devoid of a new 2030 target.

"The letter from the 12 member states requested that we conduct an impact analysis quickly but also thoroughly. Yes, that's the entire point! I have put quite a lot of pressure on our civil servants to work as quickly as they are able," he said and continued:

"But they need until the end of the summer for it to be thorough and correct, I have to respect that."

Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities Dan Jørgensen  (Social Democratic Party) doesn't accept that explanation, however.

"A lot of work will be required, but it's not an entirely new discussion. Many thought we'd be ready to make the decision already in the autumn," he says.

Furthermore, the minister points out the importance of settling the new 2030 goal before the UN COP26 climate summit begins in Glasgow this November.

"If the EU is going to play the intended leading role at the Glasgow COP26 summit, it won't work if we're too late in setting a 2030 target," he says.

"Do your homework"

The 12 states behind the letter include Spain, France and Luxembourg. These three countries have, though, not yet submitted their 2030 climate plans to the Commission, even though the forthcoming impact analysis will be based on those designs.

"Thank you for pointing out that we’re still waiting for some of those member states to do their own homework," Timmermans responded to a Euractiv journalist when asked if these three nations were hypocritical in their demand.

The EU climate chief also sent a message to those countries:

"I could respond with 'do your own homework and your plea will be slightly more credible'," Timmermans rebuked.

Jørgensen, however, sees Timmermans response as unfounded, as the three member states were duly justified in not having presented the climate plans by New Year's.

"These three countries are very ambitious, and I believe – without being presumptuous about their internal affairs – that they have had credible reasons. I don't think their tardy plans can be seen as an argument for the countries not being extremely ambitious," Jørgensen says.

Denmark's climate plan was submitted before Christmas and presents a general idea of how the country intends to achieve its 70-percent carbon reduction goal, the details of which will first be settled during parliamentary climate negotiations this spring.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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