CORONAVIRUS THREATENS PARTS OF EUROPEAN CLIMATE PLAN WITH POSTPONEMENT

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20 april 2020

[4C note: The following aritcle is translated from the Dutch businbess newspapaper Financieel Dagblad of Monday, April 20, 2020. For the article in Dutch, click here.]

Postponement Threatened for parts of EU Green Deal climate plan

The European Commission is so preoccupied by the Covid-10 lcrisis that it is considering postponement of its other plans, including important parts of the EU climate plan.


The Corona crisis has disturbed the agenda of the European Commission to such an extent that postponement is threatened for a number of plans, including important parts of the Green Deal -- the broad European climate plan administered by the Dutch EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans.

Marked in red and yellow

This is evident in a document showing the crisis-adapted work program of the commission that the FD has seen. It is a provisional overview, which may be altered late this month. Plans that will definitely be postponed are signaled in red, plans for which postponement threatens, with yellow.

The Commission has "no comment" on the document. Chairperson Ursula van de Leyen, as well as Timmermans, had repeatedly indicated that the corona crisis will in no way impede the ambitions of the Green Deal. They view the program as crucial for the reconstruction of the economy. But Dutch members of the European Parliament from the PvdA (Labor Party) and Green Left are seriously concerned about the implications of postponement for the EU ambition to be climate neutral in in 2050.

"Serious"

They are especially concerned about the possible postponement of the strategy for a sustainable food chain - "farm to fork" - and the accompanying plans for biodiversity. Both are marked in yellow in the document, which makes their planning uncertain.

Mohammed Chahim, who sits in the EU Parliament for the PvdA, says "I find this serious. Chahim says that "farm to fork" - described in the document as "a very important initiative" - is inseparable from the EU's agricultural subsidies. But the subsidies are part of the new long term budget of the EU which has to be decided this year. If farm to fork is postponed, says Chahim, there is a risk of a fait accompli for the choices in the budget debate.

Bas Eickhout, who sits in the European Parliament for Green Left, shares Chahim's concerns. Eickhout understands why the European plans for sustainable food supply and biodiversity won't be established in April, as planned, because of the corona crisis. But, he says, "let it in any case be in June at the latest."

Climate goal for 2030

Eickhout is also concerned about the European CO2 reduction goal for 2030. There is a heated debate raging in the EU about whether this goal should be 50% or 55% relative to the 1990 level. Timmermans is awaiting expert opinion on this and has promised a decision no later than September.

September was considered the last opportunity for this because of the planned November UN climate summit in Glasgow. But that summit has been postponed by the corona virus. In the Commission document the intention to decide in September still stands, but it also says that there is now "extra time" to decide definitively. Eickhout is unhappy with this. "We were already late. Let's not delay again."

The Green Left representative is also concerned that the plans in the document for the sustainability of air travel are colored red, with the argument that this would only be significant at the end of this year and thus can be better by moved up to 2021. "The air sector needs support. It would be stupid to help then now without conditions and then bring in new rules next year."


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