T&E's reaction to the Parliament's hearing of Commissioner-designate for Transport and Space Maroš ŠefčovičToday’s questioning of Commissioner-designate for Transport and Space revealed Maroš Šefčovič to be a capable and experienced Commissioner with a surprisingly good grasp of his brief.
The Green 10, a coalition of the 10 leading environmental organisations active at EU level, wrote to Commission Vice-President designate Frans Timmermans expressing grave concerns over the proposed set-up for the new Commission. The letter notes that none of the vice presidents’ mission letters mention sustainability as a key issue, and the mandate for the Environment Commissioner aims for a freeze and possibly rollback of environmental policies. The new Commission structure would also mean that for the first time in two decades the EU would not have a dedicated Environment Commissioner. There are also serious concerns over conflicts of interest resulting from the current assignment of some portfolios.The letter reiterates the Green 10's four proposals to rebalance this situation: establish a vice-president for sustainability; upgrade the Vice-President for Energy Union to ‘Climate Action and Energy Union’; ensure the full-time environment portfolio is reinstated; and resolve the conflicts of interest.
The unofficial capital of Europe is the most congested city in Europe, according to the latest ranking of congested cities, but opinion sampling and a vote in Gothenburg suggest public willingness for tackling congestion is not great.
One of the frustrations of EU transport policy is the relentless focus on the internal market as the one-and-only justification for setting standards, introducing rules or spending money. It leaves us all short-changed. On the rare occasion that ‘Brussels’ tries to make suggestions for cities’ or regions’ transport policies to improve air quality, safety or health, the spectre of ‘subsidiarity’ spooks everyone and the idea vanishes.
Yes, this editorial has an unlikely title. If you have been following us, or the issues we work on, a little bit, the overwhelming impression is that things have been scaled back (emissions-trading aviation), postponed (the Fuel Quality Directive, possibly NOx from ship engines, truck CO2 emissions) and watered down (CO2 from cars, biofuels).
Opinion by our Director, Jos Dings
A new year has come, full of new challenges and opportunities. Fortunately, for now, Europe seems to have averted the worst emergencies. This should allow for some less ad-hoc and more strategic thinking about recipes to get ourselves out of the woods.
The current Commission is on track to have one of the worst-ever environmental records of any EU administration. That is the view of the group of 10 Brussels-based environmental NGOs (‘Green 10’), whose mid-term assessment of José Manuel Barroso’s second Commission says it would not win any medals and is acting to protect the environment even less than his first Commission (2005-09).
Editorial by Jos Dings, Director
There’s an old joke that says the EU would not be allowed to be a member of itself. This is because it insists that all member states must have parliaments whose workings are open to the public, but the EU’s main decision-making body, the Council of Ministers, meets behind closed doors.