The EU summit meeting in Brussels this week last night agreed to a commitment to becoming carbon neutral as a continent by the year 2050. Only Poland stood aside from the agreement, arguing that it would need more time.
Poland’s reticence was not initially mentioned in the final communique, only the fact that “one member state” was not able to commit to meeting the deadline at this stage. In fact, several Eastern European states had expressed , but in the end only one excluded itself. It was German chancellor Angela Merkel who identified the exception as Poland.
According to Sophie Wilmès, Belgium’s caretaker prime minister, the fact that Poland was not committing to the 2050 deadline now does not signify is is not on board for the general target. The communique expressly states that the exception is present today, but says nothing about the future. It is also notable that the Warsaw government did not go so far as to block the agreement
Heads of state and government agreed to return to the question in June of next year.
Charles Michel, former Belgian PM now president of the EU Council, said the agreement was “a very strong message from all of the European parties”. The Council, he said, was “making a strong commitment: we wish Europe to become the first carbon neutral continent.” And he defended the position of Poland, arguing that the point of departure of each member state had to be taken into account at this stage.
“We have recognised that for one member state, it will be necessary to allow more time to implement this commitment,” he said after the meeting.
Michel dismissed the idea that the incomplete agreement represents a failure at his first summit as president. “Everything worth doing takes time,” he said. Michel had been keen to get a substantial climate agreement at this meeting, coming as it did only days after the EU Commission under another new leader, Ursula von der Leyen, issued its ambitious Green New Deal.