Frans Timmermans has been nominated by EC president-elect Ursula von der Leyen as one of the three executive vice-presidents of the future Commission. Additionally, Mr Timmermans is tasked with delivering on the EU’s Green Deal as well as taking over the role of EU Climate Commissioner from the outgoing Mr Miguel Arias Cañete.
To assume his new role, Mr Timmermans had to pass a more than three-hour-long hearing at the EP’s ENVI Committee, which was also attended by MEPs from the ITRE Committee. The proposed Dutch Commissioner stood firmly behind Ms Von der Leyen’s pledge for updating the EU’s current overall emissions reduction target for 2030, as well as a proposal for a carbon border tax, which is foreseen for products from third-party countries that do not meet EU environmental standards.
In the mission letter to Mr Timmermans, Ms Von der Leyen has given the proposed climate Commissioner the ambitious task of proposing a new ‘Climate Law’ in the first 100 days of the new EC. In his speech in front of the ENVI Committee, he hinted that the new legislation’s main focus would be to deliver on the EU’s plan for becoming a climate-neutral continent by 2050.
Following a number of more technical questions on specific climate policy items by MEPs and Mr Timmermans’ ability to give detailed answers, he was approved with a solid majority by the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Renew Europe, and the Greens. The only groups that voted against were the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) and the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID).
Last week, the ITRE Committee approved the former Estonian energy minister, Kadri Simson, to take over the EU energy portfolio, albeit with mixed reactions on her performance by some MEPs. Thus, the two new Commissioners will need to work closely together on delivering the new direction for the Climate and Energy policy framework.