Europe and Central Asia
12 Nov 2014

Green or greenwashed? President Juncker put to the test

President Juncker © Pietro Naj-Oleari,
By Luca Bonaccorsi

The environmental mobilisation has reached the corridors of power. Here are the tests, in the next semester, for the new Commission to show they are not ignoring civil society and progressive businesses.
No, this is not the Commission we would have chosen. It does not seem to have nature and innovation at its heart. It speaks “growth” rather than development, “deregulation” rather than the protection of common goods, and “competitiveness” instead of sustainability. It does not speak our language, even when it uses our vocabulary. 
And yet, it is not the same Commission that was announced by Jean-Claude Juncker on September 29th. Some changes have been made after the hearings, the most prominent of which being the appearance of the “sustainability” dossier in Vice President Timmermans’ portfolio and mandate.
Our mobilisation has reached the corridors of power and President Juncker has clearly gone a long way to reassure the environmental movement in his final speech at the European Parliament. Civil society and the progressive business community have certainly raised their voiced in the past few weeks. It is undeniable that the gathering of more than half a million signatures in a few days, to try and stop Cañete from becoming the Energy and Climate Commissioner, is a sign of how alert the European environmentalist conscience is on fighting Climate change. Unfortunately it is also hard to forget that when the top candidates of the ruling Grand Coalition where at stake (i.e. Popular Cañete and Socialist Moscovici) the grip of the political pact proved tight and impenetrable.
So is the Juncker Commission green or greenwashed? We will soon find out, 2015 is dense with relevant deadlines.
President Juncker cannot be blamed for the truly disappointing deal on the 2030 Climate and Energy package, but he will need to show soon stronger ambition and leadership. It is just a matter of months before a decision is taken on the EU Bioenergy Strategy.

How many fields will shift away from food to fuels? How many trees will be chopped down and burnt in the name of wrong GHG emissions calculations? That’s what Trees Robijns explains.

Will the Commission finally take its biodiversity strategy seriously, and demand proper Restoration Prioritisation Frameworks from Member States? Wouter Langhout explains in his article the consequences of a failure on this front. 

Will the new rules on Invasive Alien Species follow the advice of science, or that of the fur industry, argues Carles Carboneras?

Will veterinary Diclofenac finally be banned, asks Iván Ramírez, avoiding the massacre and near extinction of vultures like the one experienced in Asia?

And then, the mother of all battles: the defense of the Birds and Habitats Directives. A struggle that is here to stay and mobilise all our energies in the coming years. Read Ariel Brunner as he explains why butchering Nature protection rules will damage nature and the very business community it is supposed to please.
The EU has been a pioneer in environmental legislation for decades. It is here, in the heart of Europe, that we’ve set the example and the groundwork for global progress in nature and social protection, and in the transition towards a low carbon economy. Europe’ return to Jurassic politics is not a European issue, it’s a global one.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.