State of the Union: Action more than words are needed to make Europe a leader on climate change

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomes President Juncker’s aim to keep Europe as a leader on climate change but regards this as meaningless without commitments to much steeper emission cuts by the EU to be achieved by 2030.

During his State of the Union address today Commission President Jean Claude Juncker outlined his priorities for the coming year.

His speech was positive in some respects but raised concerns for environmentalists on a number of issues.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with 140 members in over 30 countries.

Jeremy Wates Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said:

“We welcome President Juncker setting out climate change as a clear priority in his State of the Union address and cementing EU global leadership on this. However the only thing that matters to the atmosphere in the end is how fast and how much emissions will be reduced. This will require the EU to increase its ambition by 2030 and do more in all sectors – not only transport.”

On Rule of Law

“We welcome his strong words on the importance of the rule of law but are concerned that this continues to be undermined by his administration’s continuous obsession with ‘Better Regulation’. In this he seeks to chip away at the environmental safety net which has built up over many years to protect communities from dangerous practices. We are concerned that the proposed Subsidiarity and Proportionality task force will be used to push issues such as environmental protection back to Member State level.”

On Sustainable Development

“If Europe is to have a future that can guarantee well-being for all it will need to be sustainable. Old recipes for economic success will not work anymore in a world in which resources become scarcer and in which we cannot continue to use others as cheap suppliers of raw materials and labour. Yet again President Juncker has failed to bring himself to even mention sustainability or the 2030 SDG Agenda. This is deeply worrying as we need to bring the Sustainable Development Goals to the heart of policymaking at European and Member State level,” said Mr Wates.

On Trade Deals
While welcoming President Juncker’s commitment to greater transparency in trade deals we are concerned that he has not addressed the substance of these deals.

“The publishing of negotiating mandates is positive but it is the substance of these deals that needs to be addressed. There was huge public opposition to trade deals that protect investors at the expense of public health and the environment. It is this that will need to be addressed, not only transparency,” said Mr Wates.

While we welcome the idea that European trade should be based on our environmental and social standards where these are progressive, the reality is the opposite. We too often leave our values behind at our external borders when sourcing goods and resources from around the globe. This is an injustice that the current Commission has failed to address adequately.

For more information:

Ian Carey

Communications Manager

European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

+353 86 3074004 +32 2 289 13 09