Green 10: Poor mid-term marks for Barroso II
By Anne Eckstein | Tuesday 03 July 2012
The ten leading environmental NGOs active at EU level, the 'Green 10', give poor mid-term marks to the action of the second European Commission headed by José Manuel Barroso. "Faced with the breakdown of an economic system operating beyond planetary limits, the Commission has so far lacked the courage to propose legislation for a new, sustainable economy," states Green10 in the report published on 3 July. "Unless it changes track, the Barroso II Commission could have one of the worst ever environmental records," add the NGOs, which are "very concerned" and make a number of recommendations to help the Commission improve its record.
(1) evaluates progress in nine EU policy areas (agriculture, biodiversity and nature, chemicals, climate change, cross-cutting environmental issues, energy, fisheries, transparency and transport) and their impact on the environment. It presents a candid assessment of the actions taken by 13 commissioners and President Barroso, giving each a mark out of ten calculated on two factors: environmental ambition and the extent of environmental issues addressed by the Commission. With a mark of 5.5/10, climate is the only policy area (Connie Hedegaard) that barely saves the day; the poorest scores (3.5/10) go to actions in the areas of agriculture and health and consumer protection. Jorgo Riss (Greenpeace) points out that these marks are not given to the commissioners personally but to the actions as a whole taken by the Commission as a team.
Despite encouraging statements, the Commission has trouble turning its words into action. "Industry lobbyists have continued to pull the strings on many political files, leading to woefully inadequate policies," according to the Green10. It notes that the Commission does not bear sole responsibility: the member states and the European Parliament also participate in final decisions. "It is fair to say that over the past two-and-a-half years the member states have often blocked progress and defended destructive policies." Green10 adds that its evaluation would be neither complete nor credible if not placed in the context of the euro crisis, which for the last two years has dominated the commissioners' agenda and taken up a large share of the executive's energy. It insists, however, that "it is not acceptable that it has stood in the way of efforts to tackle the environmental and resource use crises".
Good intentions, disappointing results
Green 10 gives full marks to President Barroso for recognising the political importance of energy policy and promoting a common long-term European approach through road maps for the transition to a sustainable energy system. It also applauds the Commission president for having declared that climate, transport and energy policies must be fully integrated into this approach, for promoting renewable energy and for placing energy efficiency targets at the heart of the 'Europe 2020' strategy. "However, the legislative proposals that followed these announcements have so far failed to live up to the president's rhetoric," adds Green10. The NGOs regret that Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger often fails to follow through on good intentions. Action in this area is given a score of 4.5/10.
Similarly, for biodiversity, agriculture and fisheries, Commissioners Dacian Ciolos (agriculture), Maria Damanaki (fisheries) and Janez Potocnik (environment) have correctly diagnosed the problems but their proposals have not put an end to overexploitation of resources, biodiversity loss or the contamination of soil, water and food. Agriculture and health and consumer protection policies (pesticides management) are given marks of 3.5/10, the environment 4/10 and fisheries 4.5/10.(1) The document is available at www.green10.org/docs/2012commissionreview.pdf