Guest essay by Eric Worrall
European Parliament politicians have vowed to overcome objections from governments of member nations to the imposition of their new 35% renewable energy target.
European Parliament push for clean energy package faces resistance
MEPs agree to increase EU’s renewable and energy efficiency goals but that’s not going to sit well with national governments.
1/17/18, 7:13 PM CET
Updated 1/18/18, 8:50 PM CET
The European Parliament’s evident self-satisfaction over Wednesday’s vote to boost the EU’s green energy ambitions is likely to be punctured in the coming brawl with national governments.
MEPs’ push to speed up the bloc’s transition to clean energy puts it on a collision course with the Council of the EU, where several countries are angry at the possibility of being forced to shoulder an extra, and expensive, burden.
“We are expecting long and tough negotiations,” a Central European diplomat said, adding that the Parliament’s position “is more ambitious and challenging than what we agreed in the Council.”
MEPs said the EU should get 35 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, as well as achieving a minimum 35 percent gain in energy efficiency over the same period. They also agreed on strong rules for ensuring countries are on track to meet their goals.
Parliament’s higher targets are a lot more than many EU countries are prepared to accept.
“I expect the negotiations on all files from the Clean Energy Package to be tough,” said Martina Werner, a German MEP from the Socialists and Democrats. “The risk is to end up with the lowest common denominator.”
National opposition is not too surprising considering the bitter talks over setting the 2030 energy and climate goals in the first place back in 2014. There was strong resistance from several Central and Eastern European countries who felt things were going too far, too fast; many still rely on coal, and were worried about the financial and economic costs of shifting to other power sources in a short period of time.
In the end, EU leaders committed to 27 percent targets for both energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Those promises have to be translated into laws, and now Central Europeans are outraged that Brussels and the Parliament are trying to push beyond the leaders’ 2014 deal by pressing for higher targets in the process.
“The targets are way beyond what is feasible. We cannot come up with commitments like that out of thin air,” said an Eastern European diplomat.
This kind of conflict between the EU and member states is common.
The problem I suspect is that European Union Democratic institutions are very weak.
The elected EU parliament, the only elected body of the European government, does not have “legislative initiative”, the right to draft new laws. The parliament can only vote on laws proposed by the European Commission.
… Although the European Parliament has legislative power that the Council and Commission do not possess, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most national parliaments of European Union member states do. The Parliament is the “first institution” of the EU (mentioned first in the treaties, having ceremonial precedence over all authority at European level), and shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council (except in a few areas where the special legislative procedures apply). It likewise has equal control over the EU budget. Finally, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, and approves (or rejects) the appointment of the Commission as a whole. It can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure. …
The European Commission is responsible for proposing new laws, and is also responsible for oversight of the implementation of laws which they proposed.
… Through Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union the Commission has several responsibilities: to develop medium-term strategies; to draft legislation and arbitrate in the legislative process; to represent the EU in trade negotiations; to make rules and regulations, for example in competition policy; to draw up the budget of the European Union; and to scrutinise the implementation of the treaties and legislation. The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission’s operation and organisation. …
Members appointed to the European Commission frequently have curious backgrounds, backgrounds which would likely not stand the public scrutiny of an election campaign. Some European Commission members have been appointed despite substantial criminal convictions, or were former high ranking members of the Soviet Government.
The following is an old video of Nigel Farage, who spoke at President Trump’s election rally in Jackson, MS, listing the criminal convictions and communist affiliations of appointed European commissioners.
Why does European leadership from former members of the Soviet government and people with criminal convictions lead to conflict between the EU and elected politicians from member nation states over green policy?
The answer in my opinion is straightforward. Elected politicians who want to keep their jobs have to care about the suffering of voters, when their political decisions cause hardship. Appointed European leaders, not so much.