The Brief – Finland’s time paradox

(EurActiv, 5 Jun 2019) Romania’s six months in charge of the EU have lacked a marquee moment, something that will define their presidency. The Finns take over the rotating presidency in July but face a race against time to deliver on their most ambitious goal.

In their sights is a draft climate plan for 2050, a strategy that has received critical acclaim from the European Parliament, its Commission authors and some national governments.

The plan needs the Council’s unanimous approval to become law but Brexit and intransigence from some capitals has pulled the brake on the discussion.

Enter Finland. There’s a new government in place, three greens in top ministerial positions and strong support from the electorate to deliver on climate action. It ranked top of a list of priorities before April’s general election.

But time is in short supply. There are only two regular Council summits scheduled for the second half of the year, both of which could potentially be dominated with sorting out who should lead the Commission and, again, Brexit.

The presidency will have to help convince unwilling member states of two things: that slashing emissions almost entirely is the way to go and that it must be done by 2050. Some CEE countries are sticking with a “mid-century” loophole for now.

A shortage of time may not be the Finns’ biggest problem though. After all, public opinion is swinging behind greener policies and governments have, perhaps not outwardly, resigned themselves to the fact that this strategy will have to be adopted.

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EurActiv, 5 Jun 2019: The Brief – Finland’s time paradox