The EEB has released its mid-term scorecard for the German presidency of the European Union. Germany has so far prioritised the environment,performed well on biodiversity and made some progress onclimate, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It performed poorly on agricultural reform and curbing fossil fuels.
At the start of the German presidency of the European Union (July-December 2020), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) released 10 demands which form the basis for the Green Tests to evaluate the presidency’s environmental performance.
The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations.
The 10 asks were:
Drive a just transition to a sustainable and resilient Europe
Channel the EU’s Recovery Package and budget towards a green transition
Tackle the climate emergency
Reverse the dramatic loss of biodiversity on land and water
Initiate a transition toward sustainable food supply chains and agriculture
Promote a shift towards zero pollution
Drive a new industrial revolution (the circular economy, digitalisation and artificial intelligence)
Set in motion an ambitious chemicals strategy for sustainability
Enhance greater democratic accountability and rule of law relating to environmental issues
Promote European solidarity, wellbeing and social and environmental justice
To gauge progress to date, the EEB is releasing its midterm evaluation of the presidency’s performance to date.
Patrick ten Brink, the EEB’s director of EU policy, said:
“The German presidency of the EU has engaged seriously with the twin crises of biodiversity and climate, despite having to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, but political realities and vested interests put the brakes on the needed transformative agenda, tarnishing the promise of the European Green Deal,”
“Unfortunately, the new proposed emissions targets are lower than what science demands to avert climate catastrophe and efforts to preserve biodiversity are being undermined by failure to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.”
The German presidency has achieved two major successes:
Prioritising nature: The German presidency has shepherded the EU’s landmark Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 through a tricky negotiations process which culminated in endorsement by last Friday’s Environment Council. Now it’s time to turn words into actions.
Less hot air: The German Presidency was committed to achieving an agreement on the draft Climate Law and on a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 at last Friday’s Environment Council but this was not possible. Environment ministers only achieved a partial agreement on certain elements of the Climate Law but not on the target, for which they will have to wait for the decision EU leaders in December. However, 55% is much lower than the 60% target endorsed by the European Parliament, which is still lower than what science requires.
Not all is rosy on the German presidency’s report card. It scored poorly in two main areas:
CAPitulating on agriculture: The German presidency’s biggest failure so far has been its inability to align the EU’s flagship Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the European Green Deal and its associated Farm to Fork Strategy. This is terrible news for biodiversity and the climate, both of which are essential to humanity and life on Earth.
Mis-leading by example: Despite its stated commitment to the game-changing European Green Deal, the German presidency has been too accommodating to the fossil fuel sector, as reflected in the absurdly late date set for the coal-phase out.
Must do more
“The Council and the European Parliament voted in Ursula von der Leyen on the basis of the European Green Deal, so it is a shame and a surprise that they promote a CAP that does not fit with these ambitions,” observes ten Brink. “The German presidency should remind the wider Council members of these facts to put the EGD back on track.”
For the remainder of its term, the German presidency must accelerate progress towards the European Green Deal, and particularly in the areas of funding action to combat global warming and biodiversity loss, as well as sustainable digitalisation.
“Germany promised a special focus on digitisation for sustainability. If the presidency manages to gain member state commitments to ethical digitalisation that serve people and planet, this will constitute a transformative step forward,” ten Brink emphasises. “It is essential that the EU budget and the COVID-19 recovery package both fully address the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the potential to build back better.”