EU Policy. Green leader sees ‘huge danger’ to climate policy as elections loom

German Green Michael Bloss in a European Parliament debate last month
German Green Michael Bloss in a European Parliament debate last month Copyright Eric VIDAL/ European Union 2024 - Source : EP
Copyright Eric VIDAL/ European Union 2024 - Source : EP
By Robert Hodgson
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A trio of leading Green MEPs have presented a proposal for a Green Industrial Deal supported by a trillion-euro EU fund and preferential interest rates from the European Central Bank, while warning a swing to the right in June could see five years of climate legislation begin to unravel.


The Greens’ chief climate policy negotiator in the European Parliament has warned a shift to the right in the coming EU elections could put at risk five years’ worth of new legislative work to address the crisis of global temperature rise, while presenting his own group’s vision for a new Green Industrial Deal supported by a trillion-euro EU fund and preferential interest rates from the European Central Bank.

A swing to the right and the re-appointment of incumbent European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen could see several hard-fought pieces of EU climate and energy legislation opened for renegotiation after the EU elections, the Greens/EFA group’s climate policy lead has warned.

German lawmaker Michael Bloss was briefing reporters while presenting a 28-page proposal for a “green industrial deal” co-authored with Belgian Green Sara Mathieu and Dutch lawmaker Bas Eickhout, who is the group’s joint lead candidate for the European Union elections that open on 6 June.

Bloss pointed to the fact that the German conservative CDU party – the Commission president’s political home – had recently committed to reversing a de facto ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035.

“And since von der Leyen already said she’s open to a collaboration with the ECR group, I think there is a huge danger the Green Deal is reopened,” Bloss said, referring to the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists group.

“There is a huge danger that all of the climate successes that were made in the last five years will be reopened in the next five years," he said.

A law setting stricter exhaust pipe CO2 emissions limits for cars and vans, which gradually tighten to zero by 2035, was only one part of a raft of legislation in the “fit for 55” package of climate and energy legislation, whose name refers to the EU’s targeted 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the current decade.

As well as setting that 2030 target, the European Climate Law enacted under the von der Leyen Commission commits the EU to achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050, and also requires the next executive to propose an interim 2040 target, which an independent EU advisory panel has recommended should be at least 90% below the 1990 baseline.

The Greens’ outline of a green deal for industry is a riposte to the Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA), the EU’s answer to the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act and its multi-billion-dollar subsidies for US clean tech investments.

The three MEPs argue the NZIA and the partner Critical Raw Materials Act are unfit for purpose as they “focus on permitting and lack any prioritization” while failing to tackle the “real challenges to industry” in Europe, which they list as a lack of infrastructure, renewable energy and investment, as well as coordination between EU members.

Among five areas for action outlined in their paper, the leading Greens address one of the key, and stark, differences between the US (and Chinese approach) to the promotion of domestic green technologies: the relatively paltry amount of EU funding on the table.

Their plan includes a Green Transition Fund of “at least 1% of European GDP” – roughly the same again as the EU’s current trillion-euro seven-year budget, a third of which goes to farm subsidies. The MEPs also reiterated a pledge in their 2024 election manifesto, to push for the European Central Bank to lend at lower interest rates to commercial banks financing green technologies and industry.

“We focused on instruments that are needed to push and strengthen the industrial green transformation,” Bloss said. “Green banking is one of the core instruments on the financial side.”

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