Analytics, Ecology, EU – Baltic States, Modern EU

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 29.11.2023, 06:14

EU’s “green deal”: changing power structures is needed

Eugene Eteris, LZA’s senior adviser, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 29.10.2019.Print version
Global and European efforts for sustainable transition have required fundamental changes both in the national socio-economic strategies and in existing decision-making patterns. Apparently, the task is not an easy one: the EU “green deal” provides a helping hand…

The attention to sustainability is high in the future Commission’s agenda: even before being confirmed as the next president of the European Commission, the former defense minister Ursula von Leyen promised to introduce a “European Green Deal” within 100 days of her taking office. She even managed to make a holistic vision for a sectoral economy’s transition aimed to cut carbon emissions and reverse the European/global ecological breakdown, while ensuring social justice and perspective growth.

According to Politicos’ comment, the decision requires a great power shift and review of competences’ division between the EU and the member states. 

Reference to: Adler D., Wargan P*) in:; 16.x. 2019.   

Note: Pawel Wargan and David Adler are the coordinators of the Green New Deal for Europe and members of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) governing board.


“Green agenda” is in the first place –out of six priorities- in the new Commission’s President political agenda, i.e. “European green deal”, with such components as climate-neutral targets up to 2050, emission trading system, carbon border tax and energy taxation, to name a few.

On the draft for “GNDforEurope” in: 

The Commission’s political agenda in:


The EU’s decision-making level

The European Commission, which is the main EU institution for drafting the EU socio-economic legislation and “administrating” the bloc’s policy, sees certain difficulties in sharing sustainability competences among the EU and the states.

Sustainability doesn’t fit into the already approved by the Lisbon Treaty concept of “division of competences”, like numerous other development spheres into exclusive, shared and supporting.  For example, competition and international treaties are exclusive, i.e. drafted only by the EU institutions, while sectoral economy issues are almost all of shared nature and issues like education, culture or industrial (!?) development are of supporting pattern.

In the same token, social policy is separated from trade policy, finance –so far - from financing greenhouse gas reduction, and so on. “In the best case, ambitious proposals end up in the hands of officials who are sympathetic to the cause; in the worst, they reside with commissioners who are determined to see them fail”, noted the Politico.

The new Commission President-elect has chosen the center-left Dutch politician Frans Timmermans as the commissioner for a "European Green Deal” and handed the portfolio “Economy that Works for People” to the center-right politician, Valdis Dombrovskis.

Some agree that the political divide can serve as a stumbling block on the way to tackling the “green deal” and socio-economic solutions. Just one example: Timmermans would be in charge of “soft issues” (e.g. new 2030 emission reduction target, zero-pollution decisions and circular economy), while Mr. Dombrovskis’ portfolio includes some “hard issues”, such as financing-related aspects of the green growth, sustainable transition, transforming the European Investment Bank into a Union’s “climate bank”, as well as a new financing strategy based on the issuance of green bonds. Besides, he will coordinate the implementation of Commission’s EU Investment Plan, which promises to “unlock” €1 trillion of investments over the next decade.

No doubt, the “green deal” is going to have in the perspective a complicated agenda…

Political issues in the Commission

It seems that political divide is an important barrier to a promising solution, as soon as, for example, Timmermans (as the center-left representative) would coordinate the work of five directorates general (DGs), most of which are led by center-right commissioners; whereas Dombrovskis (center-right) would coordinate about four DGs, most of them led by center-left commissioners. Still, however, jobs, cohesion, reforms and, crucially, economy – all is to be coordinated by Mr. Dombrovskis rather than that of Mr. Timmermans.

Timmermans’ S&D allies in the Parliament are already voicing concerns requiring “clarification on how exactly Mr. Dombrovskis would cooperate” with other relevant commissioners in order to deliver on the ambitious and progressive cross-sectorial set of policies including the “green new deal”.

Presently, the Commission’s boss is taking the first steps in her current plans for a “green deal”; there would be several others steps needed to tackle Europe’s “twin issue” of economic growth, austerity, climate change efforts, sustainability and environmental protection.

The Commission’s President would try to ensure a political balance between the center left and the center right, while reinforcing the latter’s supervision of portfolios essential for realizing the “green deal” legislation.

However, present Commission’s structural and political constraints are likely to produce a set of complicated problems needed urgent solutions, though time is short and the member states need visible measures supported by the EU’s policies.

Bottom-line: the EU institutions politico-economic process doesn’t permit a holistic approach to sustainability; hence Von der Leyen’s Green Deal is going to face enormous difficulties ahead.  



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