EU News: Flagship Green Policy Announcement marred by infighting | Politics | New
One European commissioner – Austrian budget boss Johannes Hahn – even voted against greening policies at a tense meeting of top EU executives. Six other high-ranking Eurocrats have expressed serious concerns over plans to extend carbon pricing to cars and stricter emissions standards for car makers. The row cooled the mood on a day when the EU announced 13 pieces of legislation – nearly 3,800 pages of rules and regulations – to cut carbon emissions across the bloc.
The aim is to make polluters inside the EU pay and to encourage countries to adopt greener alternatives, such as electric vehicles.
An insider told the FT: “There has been a long debate and differences, but ultimately nothing has changed.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen desperately tried to cover up the loopholes during a press conference yesterday in Brussels.
Reducing emissions and tackling climate change was one of her main goals when she ran for EU top civil servant almost 18 months ago.
Many sections of the EU’s so-called “Fit-for-55” package have been openly criticized by activists, EU officials and national governments.
Mr Hahn expressed support for the plan but lamented the lack of reference to the EU’s fiscal powers to raise funds for its budget.
A carbon border adjustment mechanism to levy some imports and strengthening the EU’s carbon market were to be included in proposals to help pay for the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund.
There was also a shared frustration among the 27 EU commissioners over how the massive legislative package was put together.
Ms von der Leyen’s team was “more concerned with having a green flag with stars projected on the building than with making the deal,” an insider told the Euractiv site.
Another official said: “The feeling of unease among the commissioners over the working method behind an initiative with such a great political and social impact exposed the shortcomings of the president’s managerial skills.”
One of the most controversial elements of greening policies, the phase-out of gasoline vehicles by 2035, has come under significant pressure.
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The management by the President of the Commission of major legislative announcements has been criticized throughout her mandate.
One of the most notable incidents happened when she was forced to turn around to introduce a hard border on the island of Ireland by triggering Article 16 of the Brexit deal protocol .
Officials complained Ms von der Leyen had not taken the time to consult with senior commissioners on the last-minute decision during a vaccine dispute with the UK.