VdL’s ‘one in, one out’ policy ‘incompatible’ with climate efforts

Europe’s leading environmental NGOs have warned that the incoming European Commission president’s ‘one in, one out’ proposal for EU legislation will lead to a weakening of efforts to tackle climate change and leave citizens worse off. Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal was immediately attacked by Green MEPs as ‘better regulation on steroids’, and now the Group of 10 leading environmental NGOs (G10) says it is ‘inherently incompatible with the [EU’s] increased climate and environmental ambition.’

The new president, who takes over from Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 November, announced her ‘one in, one out’ policy at the same time as she named her team of commissioners. She committed herself to ‘taking bold action against climate change’ and appointed the experienced Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans to be in charge of a ‘European Green Deal’. But she also said that, when the Commission creates new laws and regulations, it will apply a policy of scrapping an existing law to ‘relieve people and businesses of an equivalent existing burden at EU level in the same policy area.’

Since this announcement, environmental groups have expressed concern at the effect the ‘one in, one out’ policy will have on the European Green Deal and other environmental initiatives. In a three-page statement, the G10 leading environmental NGOs active at EU level called on MEPs to reject the principle and instead demand sustainability screening of all new initiatives.

T&E director William Todts said: ‘The principle is misguided, and actually rather silly. The whole point is that we need to do more to tackle the environmental crisis. The one in and out principle ties our hands and makes harder to increase climate ambition. For example, the Commission rightly wants to propose including shipping in the ETS; should it then abolish air quality zones, or efficiency standards for ships to satisfy this silly principle?'

The G10 statement says ‘one in, one out’ is ‘the wrong way to approach policy making. EU policy development should be based on acting in the public interest, and should not be viewed through the narrow lens of burden alleviation.’ It adds that the principle could remove some existing protections that have started the process of making the EU more climate and environment-friendly, and risks exposing Europe’s citizens to harmful practices and undermining the potential benefits of new initiatives under the European Green Deal.

It also points out the extensive evidence showing that environmental legislation brings clear added-value and does not create unnecessary burdens for businesses, including evidence from the Commission itself.

The policy was criticised by Green MEPs the day after von der Leyen announced it. Philippe Lamberts, co-leader of the Greens/EFA group, said: ‘The proposal of “one in, one out” is very concerning. Obliging the commissioners to scrap one regulation for every new regulation is “better regulation” on steroids, and there is a high risk that it will weaken consumer and environmental protection.’

T&E is a member of the G10, along with Bankwatch Network, Bird Life International, Climate Action Network, European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Heal, Friends of Nature, and WWF.