EU Commission to re-assign ‘Green Deal’ in effort to prioritise climate

The European Commission will be assigning its ‘Green Deal’ to one of three executive vice presidents in a move set to make climate action a clear priority for the EU.

Dutch social democrat Frans Timmermans was nominated on Tuesday to develop the “European green deal” over the next five years and is to directly manage the climate change directorate (DG Clima) and coordinate efforts across agriculture, health, transport, energy, cohesion and environment.

The two other nominees assigned executive vice president status are Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager and Latvian conservative Valdis Dombrovskis.

Vestager is be responsible for making Europe “fit for the digital age”, with Dombrovskis promoting “an economy that works for people,” as both build on responsibilities they held in the last commission.

In her previous role as competition commissioner, Vestager ruled on several state aid cases relating to energy, generally promoting a shift to cleaner sources, while Dombrovskis advocated for green finance standards to mobilise investments in the clean economy.

Announcing the line-up in a webcast press conference, commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she wanted to create a “flexible, agile” team to deliver on the bloc’s priorities.

“At the heart of it is our commitment to become the world’s first climate neutral continent,” she said of Timmermans’ role.

“Those who act first and fastest will be the ones who grab the opportunities of the ecological transition.”

In a mission letter to Timmermans, von der Leyen tasked him with proposing a climate neutrality law within his first 100 days in office, while also suggesting he should plan to deepen the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction target to 50% from 1990 levels. Under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to submit updated national contributions by 2020.

Further raising 2030 ambition to 55% should wait until 2021, contingent on action from other major emitters through international negotiations, von der Leyen indicated.

Pascal Canfin, a centre right Renew Europe MEP and chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee, welcomed the new organisation of the European Commission, emphasising that the ecological transition should be “dealt with as a priority.

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