The Green Group in the European Parliament has a strong position in negotiations about a new Commission President. Ursula von der Leyen needs their votes to be sure she has a majority in the upcoming vote next week.
How will the Greens use this power? Influencing the policy agenda for the next five years is a key part. Judging from Ska Keller´s press conference today, climate change and rescue at sea are of particular importance to her group.
These are two important issues, but it would be strange if the Greens are not also able to influence other environmental issues than climate change. The Juncker Commission did a reasonably good job on climate change, but progress in many other areas has been slow. Jean-Claude Juncker did not include chemicals, air and water pollution, or biodiversity among his ten priorities. It would be a failure if Ursula von der Leyen´s program did not have a broader scope when it comes to the environment.
The Green Group´s ability will be judged not only by progress on climate change and migrant policy, but also on what promises it can achieve in areas such as:
- Chemicals – the Juncker Commission has not put forward a strategy for a non-toxic environment, even though it is a commitment in the 7th Environmental Action Program.
- Biodiversity – will there be an ambitious strategy before the next COP of the biodiversity convention in 2020?
- Integration of environmental issues in the economic and growth strategies of the European Union – clear commitments in accordance with the Treaty requirements on sectoral responsibilities (revival of the Cardiff Strategy)
A particular good source of inspiration is the THINK 2030 action plan, coordinated by the IEEP. Organisations such as WWF and EEB have put forward a number of possible measures. Of course, the Greens also have many proposals in their election manifesto.
It would be a disappointment if the Commission´s agenda for the coming five years did not include more environmental initiatives than on climate change. Particularly since the Greens now have such a good negotiating position.