Hoekstra one step closer to becoming European Commissioner for Climate
Update 10:36 - article updated to add quotes by Canfin throughout the story
Wopke Hoekstra is one step closer to becoming the European Commissioner for Climate. He has won the support of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee - a big hurdle in the process. Hoekstra got the required two-thirds majority support, Environment Committee Chair Pascal Canfin said in a press conference.
“We found a two-third majority from EPP to Greens … to support the nomination of Mr. Hoekstra and Mr. Šefčovič,” said Canfin at the press conference. The majority includes parliamentarians from the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats, the Renew Europe Group, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, and the Greens/European Free Alliance.
The decision was not initially supported by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, the Identity and Democracy Group, or the Left group (GUE/NGL), Canfin stated.
The entire European Parliament will vote on his candidacy on Thursday. The vote is typically a formality, according to NOS.
The former CDA leader had to jump through some hoops to win the environment committee’s support. After three hours of questioning on Monday, he also had to provide written answers to extra questions the committee had posed about his climate plans by 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
Canfin said Hoekstra provided more clarity regarding 2040 environment targets, as did Šefčovič, including a commitment to support emissions-reduction targets of at least 90 percent compared to 1990 levels.
Hoekstra also provided more information about transparency issues, saying he would ask McKinsey for permission to reveal more information about the 11 years he spent at consulting firm McKinsey & Company. “He will ask McKinsey to provide him, and then of course to go public, with the list of the missions he made during his career at McKinsey,” Canfin stated.
Hoekstra's answers appear to have been convincing enough to appease the greens and social democrats. They still have doubts but will support him. “We have witnessed Hoekstra’s miraculous conversion to a green politician,” PvdA member Mohammed Chahim said in response to RTL Nieuws. “His written answers today were more credible. We, as the PvdA delegation, remain critical of his transformation. We will keep him to his promises. He must now put his words into action.”
Hoekstra already had the support of his political allies from the EPP, the largest party in the European Parliament. The Liberals, the third-largest, also support him.
There is some haste to appoint a successor for Frans Timmermans, who stepped down as European Commissioner for Climate to lead the GroenLinks/PvdA faction in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. The new Commissioner needs time to prepare for a crucial climate summit in November. If a simple majority of the European Parliament votes for Hoekstra’s appointment on Thursday, he will have that time. The EU wants to take a leading role at the climate summit, so its main representative there needs to be well-prepared and able.