Canête confirmed as energy and climate commissioner

9th October 2014

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Claire Goody

Spain's Miguel Arias Canête has been confirmed as the European commission's new energy and climate commissioner, despite heated opposition from campaign groups and some MEPs.

The European parliament’s environment and industry committees voted in favour of Canête at a meeting last night. Eighty-three members of the committee voted in favour of Cañete, while 42 were against and three abstained.

Cañete was deemed by many campaign groups including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to be unsuitable for the post because of his links to the oil industry.

He was previously director of oil company Petrologis Canarias, but the groups claim that his continuing family links to the industry represents a conflict of interest. A public petition against Cañete’s appointment attracted half a million signatures.

However, on Monday, the parliament’s legal committee judged that Cañete did not have any conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, Alenka Bratušek, the Slovenian candidate for a senior energy union vice-president role was overwhelmingly rejected by the committees, with 112 votes against her appointment compared to 13 in favour. Slovenia will now have to put forward a new potential commissioner.

President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to add sustainable development to the portfolio of vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, after lobbying by the Socialists and Democrats groups.

This means he will have overall responsibility for coordinating all portfolios that can make a contribution to sustainable development, including climate and energy.

Previously, Juncker had said that sustainable development did not specifically need to be in any one portfolio, as it was the responsibility of all commissioners.

A spokeswoman for Greenpeace welcomed the addition of sustainable development to vice-president Timmermans' dossier. However, she added: “We will not let our guard down though. Having recognised sustainability as a priority for Europe doesn't suddenly make this commission environmentally-sound.

“Strong concerns persist on Cañete's conflict of interests and his record as a minister,” she said.

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