Is Barroso dodging the climate fight?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

The message that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso delivered yesterday (8 December) to French media regarding the possibility of a non-binding agreement emerging from Copenhagen sends a troubling signal to activists and negotiators aiming to broker a compromise solution in the ongoing climate talks, argues Monica Frassoni, spokesperson of the European Green Party, in a Blogactiv post.

“Barroso declared yesterday on French TV that there will not be a binding agreement in Copenhagen because many countries are not ready. 

You may think that this is nothing new because we have known for some weeks now that there will not be a fully-fledged treaty agreed in Copenhagen. But the words he used, ‘no binding agreement’, are much more ambiguous. An agreement can be binding in reference to the negotiating process of course (a treaty in six months for example), by fixing a strict timetable, reduction objectives and money. 

Barroso’s declarations had to me a disturbing taste of ‘déjà vu’. In 2005, right after the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands, Barroso coldly declared ‘the Constitution is dead’. Those words were the expression of the giving up by a ‘euro-indifferent’ president of the Commission of all efforts to ‘save’ the EU constitutional process by trying to win back people to the cause of a stronger and more democratic EU. 

And indeed, Barroso, along with majority of the European Parliament, preferred to give the key of the reform process of the EU to [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and later [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, so now we have the Lisbon Treaty, a bigger role for big member states and no Constitution. 

Today, Barroso seems to use the same technique. He does not believe that his role is to go out and fight now and not to pre-empt the result of the negotiations. By so doing he is also weakening the position of the most advanced governments, strengthening that of the eco-sceptics (no wonder Barroso’s declarations were all over the Italian press yesterday) and giving to member-state leaders and their meeting in Brussels this week the task of ‘re-motivating the troops’ with a good final negotiating position. And of course he as usual disregards the role of the thousands of people and activists who are out in Copenhagen and all over the world trying to give a strong push to negotiations. 

Let us just hope, then, that the EU leaders who will meet in Brussels this week will simply disregard the self-defeating attitude of Barroso, which confirms once again his (until now for him) very convenient tendency never to fight battles he could lose.” 

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