We say: Use your vote for the climate

By Hugo Swinnen

2024 will be a year of transition in European Policy.

All close observers of EU policy developments dedicate their recent Newsletters to the following political questions:

  • What brings the transition from the Spanish to the Belgian presidency?
  • What has been achieved and what can still be accomplished in this term?
  • What is to be expected for the next policy programme following the next June elections?

These questions are of course also of crucial importance for addressing climate change. We pick just two highlights to stress once more the importance of the upcoming European elections.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) wrote a memorandum to the Belgian presidency, titled “10 GREEN TESTS FROM CIVIL SOCIETY”. The Belgian Presidency has committed to three specific priorities: circular economy, resilience to climate change, and a just sustainability transition, which are each welcome.

The EEB says that Belgium has the responsibility of finalising many of the remaining European Green Deal files, with only January and February fully open for trilogues and a limited set of priorities in March, as the elections to the Parliament loom in June. What Belgium does not complete will remain for the Hungarian and possibly Polish six-month presidencies to finish, together with the new Parliament and Commission, with a risk of considerable delay. The responsibility on this founding member of the EU is considerable.

E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. This organization titles: Five debates defining the future of EU climate action in 2024.

The fifth of these is about the 2040 climate target. European member states will attempt to agree on a new EU climate target for 2040. The negotiations will encompass every single of all other debates – about competitiveness, investment, EU elections and fairness – and more. It may trigger early discussions on the future of agriculture, resilience to climate risks, and the risk of a two-speed Europe. This new target will be critical to the global “ambition process” and the EU’s credibility internationally.

See also the January 2024 EU DG Environment Newsletter Year in review, with a taste of things to come.