Politics

So much for unity! EU civil war erupts as infighting mars flagship green policy launch

European Union is ‘new communism’ says Nigel Farage in 2013

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One EU commissioner – Austrian budget boss Johannes Hahn – even voted against the greening policies during a tense meeting of the EU executive’s top brasses. Another six senior eurocrats voiced serious concerns over the plans to extend carbon pricing to cars and tougher emissions standards for carmakers. The row dampened the mood on a day when the EU was announcing 13 legislative measures – almost 3,800 pages of rules and regulations – to cut carbon emissions across the bloc.

The aim is to make polluters inside the EU pay and for countries to adopt greener alternatives, such as electric vehicles.

One insider told the FT: “There was a long debate and the airing of differences, but in the end nothing changed.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen desperately tried to paper over the cracks at a news conference yesterday in Brussels.

Cutting emissions and fighting climate change was one of her main objects when pitching to become the EU’s most senior official almost 18 months ago.

Many sections of the EU’s so-called “Fit-for-55” package have been openly criticised by campaigners, EU officials and national governments.

Mr Hahn expressed his support for the plan but bemoaned the lack of reference to the EU’s taxation powers to raise money for its budget.

A Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism to levy some imports and the EU’s bolstered carbon market were expected to be in the proposals to help pay for the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund.

There was also a shared frustration amongst the 27 EU commissioners about how the massive legislative package was put together.

Mrs von der Leyen’s team was “more concerned about having a green flag with stars projected on the building than about wrapping up the deal”, one insider told the Euractiv website.

Another official said: “The feeling of unease between the commissioners about the working method behind an initiative with such a big political and social impact revealed the flaws of the management skills of the President.”

One of the most controversial elements of the greening policies, the phasing out petrol vehicles by 2035, has come under significant pressure.

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The EU Parliament is likely to demand a fast-tracked date closer to 2030, while governments, such as France and Germany, are calling for a delay to give carmakers until 2040.

German MEP Peter Liese, an ally of Angela Merkel, said: “For the car industry, I don’t think this is a huge problem.

“But we also have thousands of SMEs that produce parts of the combustion engine. And for them, 2035 is quite soon and they will be challenged by that.”

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European Union 'is the work of the devil' says commentator

The Commission President’s handling of big legislative announcements have been criticised throughout her mandate.

One of the most noticeable incidents came when she was forced to U-turn on a move to introduce a hard border on the island of Ireland by triggering Article 16 of the Brexit deal’s protocol.

Officials complained that Mrs von der Leyen had not taken the time to consult key commissioners on the last-minute decision during a vaccine dispute with the UK.

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