In parliament - MEPs mount a fightback
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The new European commission took office this month under the helm of Jean-Claude Juncker, a former banker and long-time prime minister of Luxembourg, with a promise to kick-start economic growth.
Leaders across Europe have welcomed this. They want to see a more efficient EU, which focuses on the “big issues” rather than the minute details of regulation. But some of Juncker’s proposals have caused consternation, particularly among those of us concerned with protecting the environment and promoting sustainability.
Most alarming are mooted proposals to withdraw or revise key pieces of EU environmental legislation, including proposed recycling targets and a new law on air pollution limits (p.5).
Some MEPs are now fighting back, and a number from across the main political groups have written a joint letter to Juncker calling on him to recognise the huge economic benefits of moving towards a cleaner and more resource-efficient economy.
We’ve also emphasised that laws on air quality and environmental protection are not red tape, but are central to people’s quality of life and the future of the planet. The bottom line is that, although there are many areas where the EU could help businesses by simplifying rules and reducing administrative burdens, this cannot come at the expense of our environment.
It was thanks to pressure from the European parliament that Frans Timmermans, the commission vice-president charged with overseeing all EU legislation, had sustainability added to his portfolio instead of focusing just on better regulation. We now want to make sure that this was not an empty commitment.
That is why, in the coming months, I and other MEPs will be making it clear that we cannot accept any moves to downgrade the EU’s environmental ambitions.
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