12 September, Strasbourg – Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has faced criticism for his ‘timid’ State of the European Union speech by MEPs who felt that it did not contain enough ambition on environmental and climate change policies.
The speech came two days after Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete claimed that the EU would aim to surpass its pledge in the Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, with many expecting new ambition to be announced.
Juncker only briefly mentioned climate change in his speech, and made only a fleeting reference to environmental concerns. The speech was criticised by spokesmen from the Green/EFA and the S&D groups, who noted that the speech was a missed opportunity for setting out an ambitious climate agenda and emphasising what the EU has already achieved.
Environmental groups also joined in the criticism, with the Climate Action Network (CAN) noting that the speech, “lacked concrete new announcements,” and, “failed to acknowledge that to protect its citizens the EU needs to significantly scale up its climate action. BirdLife Europe, meanwhile, noted that “The consistent failure to properly reform the Common Agriculture Policy, continuing the self-defeating bioenergy policy, and depriving biodiversity conservation of appropriate funding are al betrayals of the generations for which Juncker says he wants to leave a healthier planet.”
Click to access the full text of the State of the European Union speech.