This was a night! At least for the Greens. My guesstimate from last night was seriously topped by the great showing of many Green Parties across Europe. In particular the French Europe Ecologie went beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations and gained 14 seats. Together with the German Greens (also 14 seats) they alone secured a serious increase of Green MEPs. As of now it looks like the Greens have at least the following MEPs secured:
Austria: 1 (+ 1 after postal voting is counted in around Tuesday)
Belgium: 3 (2 for Ecolo, 1 for Groen)
Denmark 2 (+1 to gain from the Social Democrats, depending on personal votes/preferences that can probably only be declared late on Monday)
Finland 2 (great showing, one more than I thought!)
Greece: 1 (first Greek Green in the EP Continue reading →
Friends from E3G mentioned to me an interesting aspect with regards to the run-up of the decisive 2009 Copenhagen conference for a new global CO2-reduction agreement (the “new” Kyoto): Out of the 15 top emitting countries half is holding national elections until December 2009. As we can already see in the US campaign, the climate challenge is an issue in the campaign and luckily both sides are (at least) in favour of some sort of cap-and-trade system. We can hopefully see more of this in other countries.
Top 15 emitters (random order) holding elections until December 2009: US, India, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico – and the European Parliament.
Other top 15 emitters (random order): Australia, China, France, Italy, Brazil, South Korea, UK, Russia.
Obviously most of the countries holding elections are key countries for a global climate accord and it is worthwhile investing capacities in raising the issue in those countries. For my own country (Germany) I am absolutely sure that the Greens will present their own new innovative concepts to bring attention to the issue. This will hopefully raise the game and bring clarity in a current discussion which is blurred by big words and rather unproductive action. The two most interesting aspects in the German debate will possibly be how to involve the individual further in climate-friendly behaviour and secondly how the transport sector can better contribute to efforts.
However, it might be the European Parliament elections in early June 2009 that hold the key to Europe’s climate change policies. Only if the newly-elected Commission comes to Copenhagen with an ambitious target and the willingness to move ahead – with bold unilateral steps if need be – enough pressure on others can be exercised and an upward spiral can be imagined. – I hope for the best.
Werner Langen, leader of the CDU/CSU group in the European Parliament commented on the selection of the next EU Commissioner:
According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of today, Langen says that there is no deal with the SPD about the next Commissioner (being traded for SPD support for president Köhler). – I also think that the CDU has a point in demanding the post. As clearly Germany’s biggest party – and with highest likeliness to lead also the next government after 2009 it only makes sense to send one of their own “to Brussels”. FAZ mentions three potential candidates for the post: Peter Hintze, Roland Koch and Elmar Brok. – My guess is that Hintze has the best chances but there is another interesting candidate who doesn’t push himself into the speculations yet.
When asked about a second term for Barroso, Langen is also quite reluctant to support him. Apparently, according to Portugese newspaper “Publicos” Merkel favours Barroso as president of the European Council (while I still argue that those two posts should be merged in any case).
This is the first time that I read such an explicit demand for the Commission post from a ranking CDU politician. However, let’s not overestimate Langen’s role in the party. Merkel will carefully evaluate the situation with her advisers later in the year. And if she is really up for a strategic move, she will present a Commissioner from the CDU with who the Greens can be appeased (both by his personality as well as by offering jobs in the cabinet and alike) – so as to open doors for any kind of CDU-Green coalition option in 2009.