New Candidate EU Commissioners: Greens criticise possible merger of the climate and energy portfolios

On Thursday 4th September a group of several MEPs including Green members wrote to the new Head of the Commission Jean Claude Juncker to warn him about the decision to merge energy and climate portfolios.

For the 25 signatories of this letter, the new legislature is crucial for progress on the European and global climate agenda.

The role of the European Commission - especially of current Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and her DG - has been essential in incentivising Member States to move towards an ambitious European climate agenda with targets and legislation in various policy sectors. This portfolio has also been able to put together various strands of climate action (such as energy, finance, transport, technology, and adaptation), mainstreaming them within the EU’s policies. The creation of a specific climate action portfolio was a very powerful signal to our international partners that the EU sees climate action as a priority area and one where it intends to drive the international agenda.

For the Greens, this approach is the basis for a leadership role in the UN climate negotiations where the European Union tries to speak with 'one voice'.  A year before the conclusion of a new global climate agreement in one of the European capitals, it would clearly be an extremely bad signal not to appoint a dedicated climate action Commissioner and the EU could be at risk of losing its capacity to move the agenda and the ambition forward.

It would be equally important to dedicate a particular portfolio on energy issues. Given the numerous EU energy topics to deal with but also the recent geopolitical developments on the EU Eastern boarders and the growing debate on the formation of an Energy Union, it is imperative that the new Energy Commissioner is able to fully put all his/ her efforts and capacities into this extremely challenging and prominent agenda.

Finally, on the possible nomination of Jonathan Hill, the Greens believe that a British conservative energy and climate commissioner would be a frontal attack to progressive European energy policies. Indeed, UK conservatives have repeatedly undermined progressive legislation on renewables and efficiency to defend their vested interests in nuclear, shale gas and coal. 

Before the summer break President-elect Juncker announced in the Parliament's hearing that energy efficiency and renewable energies would be key priorities of this Commission's climate and energy policies. With this choice however, it is hard to see how he will deliver on this promise.