EU Friday – 21 June

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EU Friday

Welcome to Better Europe’s weekly update on EU Affairs.


Following the EU elections of 6-9 June, which resulted in an overall shift to the right, EU leaders met for an informal Council meeting on 18 June to agree on the appointment of EU top jobs for the next five years. A consensus had seemed to emerge ahead of the meeting, with EPP figures Ursula von der Leyen (Germany) and Roberta Metsola (Malta) expected to remain at the head of the Commission and Parliament, S&D’s António Costa (Portugal) likely to take the Presidency of the Council, and Renew’s Kaja Kallas envisioned to become EU’s diplomacy head. Yet no agreement was sealed on Monday, and discussions were shelved at least until next week. One explanation for the situation is the negotiating strategy of the EPP, asking for more power through top jobs in return for its electoral success, and their demand to split the Council presidency in half so that the EPP can get one of them. This irritated the Socialists who might ask for concessions on the Parliament presidency in return. On top of that, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni appeared particularly unpleased with the negotiating process, which largely isolated her and the ECR despite their good results in the elections. This political puzzle will however have to be solved soon, as EU leaders will meet again on 27 and 28 June. With this time a done deal?


After a tight vote in the Parliament and months of a deadlock in the Council, the Nature Restoration Law was finally approved with the tiniest possible margin. Poland voted against together with five other member states, despite its new ‘progressive’ government. Austrian green environment minister Leonore Gewessler defied her Chancellor and supported the law, showing how girls get it done and leaving Slovakia as the only unsure vote. In Brussels, no one does anything out of the goodness of their heart. So, in exchange for a green light to support the 20% restoration of land and sea target, Slovakia received the green light for a controversial law that allows the government to issue emergency permits to kill bears that approach human settlements. Given this, and the recent, contentious and unreliable public consultation on lowering the protection status of wolves (followed by Dolly’s revenge) it does seem that the EU definition of nature restoration misses the key characteristic of every ecosystem – the animals.


Amidst all the uncertainty about the new Commission and its agenda, a few initiatives are very likely to happen and it’s clear that something needs to be done about the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, one of the first pieces of EU sustainable finance legislation adopted back in 2019. The European financial supervisors are clear about what they want in a report published this week: a sustainability indicator to grade financial products such as investment funds, life insurance and pension products. Moving forward from the confusing green (“Article 8”) and dark green (“Article 9”) categories, the indicator could be designed as a five-point scale similar to the one that we see increasingly see on food or electric appliances. The supervisors also propose to improve the definition of sustainable investments, including on social indicators, and to simplify disclosures, with all of this to be consumed testing before putting forward any new proposals.