Parliament’s amendments to the European Climate Law are misconceived and unworkable

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group is deeply concerned by the outcome of today's ENVI Committee vote on the European Climate Law report. With 46 votes in favour, 17 votes against and 18 abstentions, the Committee has introduced quite a concerning number of radical new amendments to the Commission's original proposal. These changes risk jeopardizing successful negotiations with the German Presidency later this year.

ECR shadow rapporteur Anna Zalewska considers the amended report to be ill-judged across a spectrum of issues. The potential for authentic cooperation and good-will in compromises, especially on such an important dossier, has been unfortunately ignored thus far, as conveyed in the votes.

First and foremost, the voted amendments change the proposed target of climate neutrality by 2050 from the EU level to the Member State level, inserting unfeasible headline targets. Despite some half-hearted attempts of reassurance, this in effect disregards the solidarity needed when considering the different starting points of various Member States. Moreover, “we must remember that we do not only have a responsibility reduce emissions, but also towards jobs, innovative investments, and sources of financing so as not to lead to a collapse of the European economy, which is already in crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes MEP Anna Zalewska.

Second, the target for 2030 has been raised by the ENVI Committee from the Commission’s proposal of 50-55% to 60%, which was already a considerable increase from the current 40%. However, it is worth noting this passed with 40 votes for, 37 against, and 4 abstentions. The narrow difference indicates the shifting moods over the last month or so heading towards greater pragmatism, as the 65% was voted down more decisively. Moreover, this has been decided on before the Impact Assessment has been delivered, and unfortunately the simple necessity of a feasibility study before voting on it has been dismissed thus far. MEP Anna Zalewska believes the publication of the Impact Assessment will allow a re-evaluation of the matter for all political Groups before the vote in Plenary in October.

Third, the ECR disagrees with the view of the ENVI Committee that the Climate Law should have the status of a ‘non-legal Treaty’, where the Commission will identify how to adjust all parts EU law to become compatible with the Climate Law. Moreover, ENVI’s amendments take this to even further extents.

Fourth, and directly associated with the abovementioned, from a rather concise document, the current amendments have transformed it into a larger, messy combination of ideas which unnecessarily complicate the legislative piece, and in the view of ECR, worsen its coherence, as some elements have not been properly planned out and outlined. These include, inter alia, the formulation of a new EU body without considering how it would be funded; the introduction of a “greenhouse gas budget” to various elements, including the trajectory; the control of finance flows, which not only is beyond the remit of the ENVI Committee, but would phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, without proposing alternative solutions; as well as adding invasive elements that would be easily exploitable against Member States.

Anna Zalewska MEP commented:

“What was intended to be simple legislation has now turned into an expansive Treaty-like act. In its current form, the European Climate Law will have sweeping consequences, that unduly affect those Member States with coal-dependent economies.

“EU Member States must show solidarity with one another to truly tackle important issues such as climate change. This is an area where we must share responsibility, which is why I have serious concerns that this legislation currently fails in its ambitions.”

The ECR’s view is that the report should be more concise and coherent, focusing on the objective, and done so in a pragmatic way where the costs of the transformations will be calculated and reasonable. That the report overlooks the duty of solidarity between Member States is unfortunate, as it is a core EU value. Introducing new commitments and a level of ambition that will place disproportionally high transition costs on fossil-fuel-reliant countries needs to be done properly.

In the lead up to the Plenary, Mrs. Anna Zalewska encourages MEPs from all groups to consider the abovementioned factors, and support amendments which specifically ensure solidarity among Member States in the pursuit of climate action.

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