Parliament reacts to Juncker’s plan to merge energy and climate portfolios

Jean-Claude Juncker is elected new President of the European Commission. [European Parliament.]

Members of the European Parliament have written to Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker voicing their opposition to the potential merging of the energy and climate change portfolios.

The energy and climate portfolios would come under one commissioner and is most likely going to UK’s Jonathan Hill, according to a draft document obtained by EurActiv.

The two separate portfolios were previously the responsibility of Connie Hedegaard as climate action commissioner, and Günther Oettinger, in charge of energy in the outgoing Commission team.

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A letter co-signed by around 25 Conservative, Socialists, Liberals, and Green MEPs from the environment and energy committees labels the decision to join the two policy areas a mistake and explains why they should be kept separately.

The MEPs believe a joint portfolio will only weaken the role of the EU in future climate and energy negotiations at the international level that will culminate at the December 2015 UN climate conference in Paris.

“A year before the conclusion of a new global climate agreement, this is not the right time to send the opposite signal by not appointing a dedicated climate action Commissioner,” the letter said.

Frédéric Thoma, energy policy adviser at Greenpeace EU, said it is important who gets the job.

"A capable and proactive commissioner could help steer the EU towards a clean and sustainable energy system, as much as the wrong person could roll back energy and climate policy at least ten years," he said.

The new commissioner’s agenda will include the creation of the much talked-about Energy Union, the reduction of Europe's energy consumption, and the diversification of its energy mix. He will also have to negotiate with Russia to ensure a continuous flow of gas from and to EU member countries and its neighbours.

The MEPs recognise “the links between the two portfolios are undeniable and continued close coordination between the two will be essential”

Potential conflicts of interest could arise when managing two different portfolios, like when drilling for oil lead to deforestation. In such cases, MEPs think it should be decided “between Commissioners, rather than arbitrated behind closed doors of a Commission Directorate-General”.

The Parliament’s reaction could put pressure on Juncker to change his mind to nominate one person for two important EU policies. The distribution of portfolios is still under discussion and a lot can change until the new college of commissioners takes office.


Maeve McLynn, climate change and development Policy Officer at CAN Europe said:

"Merging climate and energy portfolios would risk downgrading the EU’s political focus on climate change. With the urgency for ambitious climate action increasing and a new international climate agreement due in just over a year, the incoming President-elect Juncker should rather be looking for a Climate Change Vice President to oversee future policy." 

  • 8-12 Sept.: Juncker expected to announce the porfolios of the 27 commissioners working under his leadership
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Mike Parr's picture

There is a bit of logic merging the two portfolios since energy is one of the big CO2 emitters. Set against this is the following:
DG Clima is "sort of" out of control with rumours from ground control suggesting that Hedegaard is not in control (in terms of policy) of the DG (which one could re-name ETS-r-us) . How would ETS-r-us sit with the energy efficiency elements in DG Energy (which Jos Delbeke and Catherine Day despise) . Perhaps these are elements which Juncker is unaware - if so I suggest that he gets up to speed PDQ. & he needs somebody very strong to regain policy control - & in fairness Guenther always looked to be in control in DG Energy.

Moving on to Mr Hill of the Tory-Vermin party. Moron-con his boss famously said "we must get rid of all this green crap" and proceeded to do so. One supposes that Hill holds some of the views of monron-con and the tory-vermins? makeing one wonder with respect to his views on "green crap" - no doubt like all lobbyists he will dissemble/lie well when interviewed by the EP.

Hill is a lobbyist - that is his only "expertise" (yes I know I'm stretching the meaning of the word somewhat). This might be good news for Bx lobbyists (he's one of us!!) - is it good news for the EU & its citizens?. The other question is - given the Tory-Vermins appear to want to leave the EU - why would Juncker give a high profile dossier to...... a member of a party that wants to leave the EU? - & may do so within the term of the new Commission? Does Juncker seriously think this will make a difference to the Tory-Vermins aka the stupid party?

Suggest to Juncker - give him a minor portfolio which reflects the UKs' "commitment" to the EU - Commissioner in charge of EU buildings - hell I don't know - postal matters - letters? Be creative.

Mike Parr's picture

ah yes attack the man not the message - what I said is mostly true - but I guess you don't know enough to even dispute it. Pathetic.

Joe Thorpe's picture

You vile ranting left me no other response, which part of the Soviet Union are you from again?