Juncker pledges to step up climate change fight

14 Sep 17

Europe will lead the fight against climate change as the economy ‘finally bounces back’, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said. 

In his annual ‘state of the union’ address yesterday, Juncker also pledged to strengthen trade within the EU and said he would start trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

“I want Europe to be the leader when it comes to the fight against climate change,” he said.

But the president’s comment on climate change were criticised for lacking substance. Wendel Trio, director of European NGO Climate Action Network (CAN) said: “When it comes to climate change, Mr Juncker sounds like a broken record. He restates the EU’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, but then fails to give any substance to these words.

“Our biggest disappointment…is that he failed to acknowledge that standing up for the Paris Agreement means stepping up and committing the EU to higher climate targets.”

Following the speech, MEPs approved almost €1.2bn in EU aid to damage caused by the earthquakes that hit Italy last year and earlier this year. 

The payout is the biggest under the EU’s Solidarity Fund which was set up in 2002.

Juncker also said the European economy was “finally bouncing back”, ten years after the global financial crisis struck. He said “trade is about jobs, creating new opportunities for Europe’s businesses big and small” and that an additional €1bn in exports could support 14,000 jobs in Europe.

The state of the union is an annual speech from the commission president to the European Parliament followed by debate where MEPs review the commission’s work over the past year and assess the objectives for the coming year.

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