EEB reaction to Juncker Commission: bad blow to environmental sustainability

EEB Reactions

10 September 2014

The EEB has reacted with deep concern to the structure of the proposed new Commission that was unveiled by Jean-Claude Juncker today:

Instead of putting sustainability central to his new team, Juncker has decided to relegate it to the margins by scrapping the dedicated posts of a climate and an environment commissioner and appointing a deregulation first Vice-President to put a competitiveness filter on all initiatives’, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates commented on the announcement.

It is crucial that in merging the climate and energy portfolios, and environment and maritime affairs and fisheries, no resources for acting on climate change or environmental sustainability are lost.

Crucial responsibilities that currently rest with the Environment department will be shifted to other parts of the Commission in the new structure. Relations with the European Chemicals Agency, whose job it is to protect European citizens from harmful chemicals, will now be managed by the Industry department; food waste and biocides will be covered by the Health and Consumers department. This follows on from changes introduced to the Commission by President Barroso, who had already taken away responsibility for GMOs and pesticides from the Environment department.

Possibly even more disturbing than the shrinking of the environmental component in the new structure are the instructions given by Juncker to his proposed team. The incoming Environment Commissioner is requested to review recently launched and urgently needed legislative proposals such as the air and circular economy packages in the light of the ‘jobs and growth’ agenda, and to question the effectiveness of two outstanding pieces of environmental legislation, the Birds and Habitats Directives, a longstanding demand of anti-environment business interests.

Under a banner of reform, a deeply regressive deregulatory agenda has been put forward here that reads like a wish-list of private sector interest groups hostile to the environment,’ said Mr. Wates.

Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications Officer: Tel: +32 (0) 2289 13 09 Mobile: +32 489 304 962