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Will climate make Juncker Commission go off?

By Valéry Laramée de Tannenberg //  Journal de l’environnement //  

Deemed sexist and pretty ignorant of issues related to conflict of interest, the commissioner candidate for climate action and energy did not convince MEPs during his oral exam on Wednesday (October 1, 2014). His rejection, however, seems unlikely, the EP leftist seeking to protect the French Socialist candidate, reviled by the German government.

Memory of an MEP is unheard of. Wednesday, October 1, even before he starts his hearing before the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, Miguel Arias Cañete had everyone against him. Almost.

Launched two days before, an electronic petition requesting his dismissal from the candidate commissioner position for climate action and energy collected more than 380,000 signatures. Before the hemicycle in Brussels, hundreds of protesters, some masked as politicians, utterly demanded his dismissal. Inside, some MEPs were very angry against the former Spanish Minister of Environment.

Meeting between Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the EP, and Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo:
Meeting between Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the EP, and Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo:

Sexist remarks

The cause of it, sexist remarks made last spring during a television show: “It is difficult to have a debate with a woman as showing intellectual superiority may seem sexist”, had bravely said the prominent member of the Spanish People’s Party.

This is not all. The former minister of agriculture and cronies have developed very close links with two oil companies. As a parliamentarian, Miguel Arias Cañete had no problem to chair the board of PETROLIFERA DUCAR and Petrologis Canaris. Two companies where he also held 2.5% in shares, until recent days.

Although he recently sold his shares, the links are not completely broken between the former head of the list of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European elections and the Spanish oil industry. His son, Miguel Arias Domecq, is still a member of the board of directors of both companies. While his brother, Miguel Domecq Solis, chairs their board of directors.

Oil and bulls

In private, Miguel Arias Cañete is married to Micaela Domecq y Solís-Beaumont. This aristocrat owns a farm of breeding fighting bulls. A noble activity that did not receive any European aid. Until a certain Miguel Arias Cañete, chairman of the agricultural committee of the European Parliament, took the subject by the horns. Successfully. Today, this type of farming is eligible for grants within the Common Agricultural Policy.

Not too sensitive to conflicts of interest, Miguel Arias Cañete did not convince his former colleagues who cooked him for three hours on energy and climate issues. Nevertheless, he recalled his participation in the climate summits in Doha and Warsaw (as Spanish Minister of the Environment): they “gave him a good understanding of the mechanisms of international negotiations in the framework of the United Nations and that will certainly be helpful [for himself] in the negotiations at the conference in Paris in 2015. “

Canete. Source : EP
Canete. Source : EP

Generalist program

Not surprisingly, his program is rather more general. “Security of supply will be an immediate priority given the current geopolitical situation.” Not that we know very well how, overnight, half of the European Union will do without Russian gas. The Spanish candidate also intends “to contribute to the implementation of the framework on climate and energy in the 2030 horizon.” To achieve this, he proposed the adoption of the “existing legislative proposal for a reserve of market stability in the European Trading Scheme for carbon emissions (ETS)? “. Boldly, he also proposes to reduce the annual allocation of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Without saying how, Miguel Arias Cañete also wants to regulate GHG emissions from ships. According to its mission statement, the candidate will ensure that Europe becomes the world leader in renewable energy by producing a third of its energy supply with clean energy sources. “This is not just a mere question of security of supply and of responsible climate policy. It is also about an imperative for industrial policy,” he said, paraphrasing the words expressed by Jean-Claude Juncker, the future President of the European Commission.

The least we can say is that neither Miguel Arias Cañete Cañete nor his program have sparked enthusiasm. “Far from being transparent, he has never been able to distinguish his role of politician from that of businessman when he referred to his career. If his knowledge of subjects is undeniable, his choice for the energy future of the EU are found in total contradiction with a sustainable vision of the European energy supply, but absolutely in line with the commercial interests of industries he is close to,” says Michele Rivasi (EELV), in a statement.

Collateral damage

Nevertheless, leftist MEPs come apart at the seams. Of course, they want to dismiss the candidate, or at least request a new interview with Miguel Arias Cañete. and this starts to do too much. Very heckled by members (especially British) of the Finance Committee, the candidate Commissioner for Financial Stability, Jonathan Hill, will have to go back to the parliamentarians to be nominated. Found very close to the not-too-democratic Hungarian Prime Minister, the candidate Commissioner for Education and Culture, Tibor Navracsics, it is not clear either that he will pocket his ministerial portfolio.

Three candidates stamped EPP may thus not be knighted by MEPs. Enough, however, to arouse the ire of elected conservative majority. They have also warned that if one of their candidates was returned to the fold, the French Pierre Moscovici (Socialist candidate for the position of Commissioner for the Economy) would be punished. That would be to the delight of the German government. Berlin still has not digested that Paris imposed him as Commissioner for Economic Affairs, a former Minister of Economy and Finance whom has been quite unable to deal with the French budget deficit.

Translated from French // Raul Cazan, 2Celsius Network

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