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EU climate agreement: Flemish government is not on board

Flemish climate minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA). © Belga

A climate agreement reached by the ongoing European summit does not have the backing of the Flemish government, said climate minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA).

The agreement was announced this morning by EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel. It commits the member states to a reduction of emissions by 55% by the year 2030 – up from a previous target of 40% based on the figure from 1990.

That would mean the EU would be able to reach the target of being entirely climate-neutral by 2050.

Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change. We have decided to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030,” Michel posted on Twitter.

The agreement was held up by an insistence by the Polish government that the measure should be accompanied by substantial compensation to allow Poland to transition away from coal-based energy.

But now another hurdle has appeared in the way of the agreement: Flemish opposition.

In Belgium’s federated system, climate policy is shared between the federal government and the regions.

On Monday, at a meeting between the governments to prepare for the summit, Flanders presented two provisos that would allow it to support the Commission’s proposal.

One: those countries who could most easily and most quickly make a major change to emissions – mainly the nations of coal-dependent Eastern Europe – should carry the heaviest burden.

And two: member states who failed to meet their targets could buy off their contribution with a fine.

At Monday’s meeting, according to sources reported by De Morgen, prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) agreed to present the Flemish provisos to the summit.

It was not to be: neither of the two conditions is taken up in the final text of the agreement passed by the summit.

Federal sources told the paper the Belgian delegation fought hard for its position. Flemish sources, on the other hand, argue otherwise. In the final accord, one source said, “in the end no one intervened any more, and everyone implicitly agreed”.

This morning De Croo posted a message on Twitter to welcome the summit agreement. “After unanimous Belgian climate agreements earlier this week, there is now an ambitious European climate agreement.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times