Home Society Flemish minister asks Belgian PM to stall Green Deal files during EU presidency
Flemish minister asks Belgian PM to stall Green Deal files during EU presidency

Flemish minister asks Belgian PM to stall Green Deal files during EU presidency

by host

Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir wants to make contentious green EU laws disappear — and use Belgium’s influential position at the helm of the European Council to do it.

In a letter, dated Feb. 21 and obtained by POLITICO, Demir asks Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to stall progress on a number of the EU’s Green Deal files, including the new rules to boost nature restoration and the bloc’s 2040 emissions target.

Recalling that De Croo himself last year floated a potential “pause” on new EU environmental rules, Demir asked him to prevent EU ministers from approving the nature restoration law or discussing the 2040 target by removing the items from the agenda of upcoming Council meetings.

Doing so would ensure that “further completion of these European initiatives can no longer take place” ahead of the EU election in June, stalling the legislative process.

Demir also said the prime minister could suggest to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the EU executive “withdraw both initiatives.”

The nature restoration law narrowly passed a final Parliament vote earlier this week, meaning it now needs a final stamp of approval from EU countries before it enters into force. The legislation is highly contentious, with critics claiming it is too burdensome for farmers.

The Commission has recommended a 90 percent emissions cut by 2040, but the recommendation is not a legislative proposal; that will be in the hands of the next Commission following this summer’s EU election. The Parliament and EU countries will also need to agree before any 2040 target can become enshrined in law.

The Belgian government “has always been either internally divided or unwaveringly in favor of such initiatives,” meaning the country “has hardly been able to speak out against the overly ambitious European environmental and climate objectives in recent years,” Demir complained in her letter to De Croo.

In a bid to appease protesting farmers, Demir also called on the Belgian government to push the EU to guarantee the inclusion of so-called mirror clauses in free-trade agreements with non-EU countries. These would compel exporters to respect the same standards as European farmers.

As holder of the rotating presidency of the Council until July, Belgium is expected to act as an honest broker in negotiations on EU legislation. Preventing EU countries from voting on a piece of legislation and thereby blocking its passage through the system would break with those norms.

In an interview with Belgian media VRT following Parliament’s approval of the nature restoration law, De Croo signaled he is not inclined to stall the process.

“It would be wrong to think that if we don’t put [the nature restoration law] on the agenda, it will disappear,” he told VRT. “Besides, this was voted in the European Parliament, you have to respect democracy in Europe as well.”

The adoption of the nature restoration law is tentatively scheduled during a Council meeting of the bloc’s economic and finance ministers on April 12, according to a Belgian presidency spokesperson.

Demir’s opposition and internal divisions within the Belgian coalition mean Belgium is slated to abstain during the vote.

Barbara Moens contributed to this report.

Source link

You may also like