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21 April 2020

EURACTIV: Timmermans promises green recovery to EU lawmakers

The European Commission’s Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, assured EU lawmakers on 21 April that “every euro” spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions.

First Vice-President of European Commission Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands delivers his speech during the debate on sustainable investment plan, just transition fund and Roadmap on Social Europe at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 14 January 2020. [EPA-EFE | Patrick Seeger]

The European Commission’s Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, assured EU lawmakers on Tuesday (21 April) that “every euro” spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions. EURACTIV Germany reports.

“Every euro we invest must flow into a new economy rather than old structures. We must avoid that at all costs,” he told the European Parliament’s environment committee during a video conference.

“The European Green Deal is a growth strategy and a winning strategy,” the Dutchman said on Twitter after the meeting.

The exchange with Parliament took place two days before EU heads of state and government hold a video summit to agree a recovery plan after the coronavirus crisis.

A proposed “roadmap for recovery” was circulated ahead of the summit by European Council President Charles Michel and the European Commission. It says “the Green transition and the Digital transformation will play a central and priority role in relaunching and modernising our economy.”

This will include a “European Recovery Fund” to be financed by the EU budget although details on finance still need to be fleshed out by European leaders at the summit.

“The European Union needs a Marshall Plan-type investment effort to fuel the recovery and modernise the economy,” the roadmap says, adding: “This means investing massively in the Green and Digital transitions and the circular economy”.

Von der Leyen: 'We now need to build a resilient, green, and digital Europe'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen believes the “real Europe is standing up” to the coronavirus crisis now. In a written interview with EURACTIV’s media partner Efe, she spoke about a broad range of issues, from the challenges facing the Eurogroup earlier this month to the expectations for the summit of European leaders this week.

The European Commission is currently working on a recovery plan for Europe and intends to present a new proposal on 29 April for the EU’s seven-year budget, known as the multi-annual financial framework (MFF).

But Green MEP Bas Eickhout expressed concerns during the Parliament meeting, saying “we are worried that the debate on the EU budget will focus more on extrapolating the necessary investments instead of making the MFF really greener.”

During the exchange with MEPs, Timmermans stressed that the EU climate law would play a key role in Europe’s economic regeneration after the pandemic.

“We can help after the crisis, for example by installing more solar panels, helping families buy new and clean cars or by ensuring farmers work in a more environmentally friendly way. But for that we need the discipline of a climate law,” Timmermans said.

As planned, an impact assessment on the EU’s updated 2030 climate targets should be available by September, which according to Timmermans, will incorporate the latest economic data. The Dutchman said he was exerting maximum pressure within the Commission to ensure that the timetable is met.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Commission is currently in the process of re-arranging its work programme for 2020. The farm-to-fork and biodiversity strategies, which were initially due to be presented at the end of March, were later postponed until 29 April and will likely suffer further delays.

However Timmermans assured EU lawmakers that it will take “not months but a few weeks” to present both initiatives.

Which world do we want after COVID-19?

The coronavirus crisis has caused a lot of suffering and uncertainty, but its aftermath offers us an opportunity to break with old habits and build a circular, sustainable and highly competitive economy, write Frans Timmermans and Bertrand Piccard.




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