Ursula von der Leyen has been elected as European Commission President after winning MEPs’ votes with a bold vision for a greener Europe.
Von der Leyen won the support of parliamentarians with a strong call for climate and environmental action that could transform Europe over the next five years.
The European Environmental Bureau(EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ groups with 150 members in more than 30 countries.
Jeremy Wates, EEB Secretary General said:
“This is a crucial time for the natural world and we welcome the fact that von der Leyen has put the environment first in her plans for the next five years. She has made some big and welcome commitments including to a European Green Deal, a carbon border tax and a zero-pollution future – and we look forward to seeing more details.”
Before speaking at the European Parliament this morning, von der Leyen shared a 24-page document  outlining her‘agenda for Europe’. The document listed“A European Green Deal” as the first of six priorities.
While much of the content of von der Leyen’s political agenda has been welcomed by green groups, questions remain about the details of some of her proposals and the extent of her commitment to others.
“While mentioning the need for sustainable food and biodiversity standards in agriculture policy, von der Leyen has failed to mention the need for a radical reform of the EU’s €60bn Common Agricultural Policy to reverse its highly damaging impact on nature. Von der Leyen’s failure to unequivocallycommit to supporting at least 55% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 leaves her falling short of what the Parliament has already agreed and even further short of whatclimate science demands. She has failed to put the sustainable development goals at the heart of all the EU does.”
Von der Leyen’s political guidelines document, titled‘A Union that strives for more: My agenda for Europe’ includes various commitments on climate action including:
A climate neutral EU by 2050
An improved ETS
A carbon border tax
A move away from unanimous decision-making on climate and energy
2030 emission reduction targetsof at least 50% and moving‘towards’ 55%
Other notable environmental priorities include:
€1trn of sustainable finance investment and turning part of the European Investment Bank into Europe’s climate bank
A 2030 biodiversity strategyto stop biodiversity loss within five years
A new circular economy action plan that addresses textiles and construction sectors
A‘zero-pollution’ target delivered through a cross-cutting strategy to protect citizens’ health from environmental degradation and pollution
A“farm to fork” strategy on sustainable food
Von der Leyen’s guidelines also include a promise to use the EU’s budget to support the rule of law, which could provide a key tool to ensure the proper implementation and enforcement of EU environmental laws.
The commitment to a European Green Deal fits well with the widely-supported call for an ambitious 8th Environmental Action Programme.