France’s Green MEPs pledge to change Parliament’s position on EU taxonomy

In comments on Twitter, French Green MEP Marie Toussaint called the Commission's proposal on nuclear and gas an act of "greenwashing at the expense of the climate and democracy" . [European Committee of the Regions / Flickr]

The Greens in the European Parliament are trying to mobilise other MEPs to reject the Commission’s delegated act on the green taxonomy that gives nuclear and gas a “green” investment label. EURACTIV France reports.

The delegated act incorporating gas and nuclear as “transitional” energies in the EU’s green taxonomy has raised heckles among those who oppose their inclusion, despite safeguards added by the European Commission to attach strict environmental criteria to the taxonomy.

The delegated act, a procedure usually reserved for technical updates to legislation, gives the EU Commission free rein to amend or supplement legislation using a fast-track procedure. The Council and Parliament cannot amend the proposal, which will be adopted automatically after a four-month scrutiny period unless they can find a majority to veto it.

This is unacceptable for Green MEPs. In comments on Twitter, Marie Toussaint called the Commission’s delegated act “greenwashing at the expense of the climate and democracy” .

Other Green colleagues in the EU Parliament also reacted. Michèle Rivasi said, “this greenwashing is damaging our energy future… Shame,” and Damien Carême noted, “the Commission is considerably undermining the credibility of the EU”. Claude Gruffat called on “all [his] colleagues to reject en masse this delegated act for a sustainable and clean future for our children”.

A long-awaited step forward 

But not all French MEPs share the same view.

“This is a world-first and a long-awaited step forward for all financial market players to combat greenwashing and obtain an objective grid of activities that will accelerate the ecological transition,” Pascal Canfin, Renew MEP and chair of the Parliament’s environment committee wrote on Linkedin.

Christophe Grudler, Canfin’s French colleague in the Renew Europe group, called the act “a compromise that seems balanced, allowing to mobilise private investments for the ecological transition” on Twitter.

MEP François-Xavier Bellamy, of the righ-wing Les Républicains party, had a more measured response, calling the act “an insufficient but necessary result”.

“The proposed regulation is very imperfect, but it guarantees the financing of this strategic energy” for France, he added in reference to the country’s nuclear industry.

“It was an imperative for our environment, our economy and our sovereignty. A step forward has been taken, even if the essential work is still ahead of us,” he said.

Canfin MEP: 'Here is my proposal to find the right compromise on gas and nuclear in the taxonomy'

With proper safeguards in place, both gas and nuclear power can be included in the “transition” category of the EU’s green finance taxonomy, says Pascal Canfin, a leading lawmaker in the European Parliament.

Transparency requirements

In response to the criticism, the European Commissioner for Financial Services, Mairead McGuinness, said at a press conference that “we must use all the tools at our disposal” to tackle climate change “because we have less than 30 years to do so.”

The delegated act aims to accelerate the replacement of coal-fired power plants, which are twice as polluting as gas, to reach the EU’s goal of becoming climate neutral 2050.

“The international commitment we made in Glasgow was to get out of coal, and parts of Europe still rely heavily on coal. So we need to act now and act with all the instruments at our disposal,” McGuiness said.

“Today, we are detailing how gas and nuclear could contribute,” she added at a press conference on Wednesday (2 February).

“All gas and nuclear-related investments are subject to strong mandatory transparency requirements, which will inform all financial market participants and allow investors to choose whether they want gas and/or nuclear to be part of their asset portfolio”, Canfin also wrote on Linkedin.

Canfin said he only regrets the gas-related adjustments made to the text, which he said had been “conceded under pressure from the new German coalition in Berlin”.

Over the next four months, the European Parliament will have the difficult task of validating or rejecting the Commission’s text by a simple majority vote. The European Council could also oppose it, provided 20 of the 27 member states agree.

In the meantime, French President Emmanuel Macron will be able to reap the benefits of the inclusion of nuclear power in the taxonomy. He declared himself in favour of it before the European Committee of the Regions on 1 December.

For French voters, this inclusion can indeed be viewed as a win for Macron and proof of his influence within the Union.

Macron in favour of integrating nuclear into EU green taxonomy

President Emmanuel Macron said he was in favour of “nuclear power being integrated into the taxonomy” on green finance in an address before the European Committee of the Regions on Wednesday (1 December). EURACTIV France reports.

[Edited by Alice Taylor and Frédéric Simon]

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