Controversial MEP replaced as lead on energy savings file

Polish MEP Adam Gierek [European Parliament]

Socialists and Democrats (S&D group) MEP Adam Gierek has been replaced as the lead rapporteur on the recast of the energy efficiency directive, barely a week after his report was narrowly adopted by his fellow lawmakers.

Gierek had courted controversy throughout the lead-up to the 28 November vote, after proposing amendments that were in direct opposition to his own party’s line.

On Tuesday (5 December), officials confirmed that the Polish MEP had stepped down voluntarily and that he had been replaced by Czech lawmaker Miroslav Poche.

Poche’s appointment has already been hailed by environmental groups as a good move by the S&D leadership. It is understood that the group’s EED rapporteur for the environmental committee, Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland, was also in the running.

EU sources revealed in November that Gierek had already been told by the S&D Group that he would have to stop proposing changes to the Commission’s original proposal that did not fit the group’s approach.

Removing the Pole ahead of last week’s vote would have been a hard decision for the socialists to make, given the drastic nature of stripping a rapporteur of their duties that late in the game.

But Gierek admitted after the vote in the European Parliament’s industry committee (ITRE) that he had voted against a part of his own report, an amendment supporting a binding energy saving target of 40%, and had abstained from the final vote on the report as a whole.

Ahead of trilateral negotiations with the European Council and Commission, both of whom have markedly different positions than the Parliament, Gierek’s admission made his role as chief negotiator untenable.

Before EU officials lock themselves behind closed doors to hash out a compromise on the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), MEPs must meet in a full plenary session in January to sign off on ITRE’s finalised report.

In perhaps one last twist provided by Gierek himself, sources familiar with the file told that the Polish lawmaker’s office had sent an email out to his colleagues shortly after the news broke that he would be replaced.

In it, Gierek called on his fellow MEPs to support a number of amendments to his own report, ahead of a 10 January deadline for tabling changes. Whether this was a communications faux pas or an unorthodox move by the outgoing rapporteur remains unclear.

Lawmakers who voted against the text insist that this final hurdle could afford them an opportunity to overturn the report, given that the vote in ITRE passed only narrowly by 33 votes in favour and 30 against.

MEPs vote for stronger EU efficiency and renewable energy targets

MEPs voted on Tuesday (28 November) in favour of increasing efficiency and renewable energy targets, in a decisive morning for EU energy and climate policy that provoked both jubilation and disappointment.


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