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ClientEarth Communications

16th September 2020

Rule of law

Key EU Commission speech: gaps between words and action

Today, EU Commission president Ursual von der Leyen gave her State of the Union speech in Brussels.

Our Head of EU Affairs, Anaïs Berthier was listening, and noticed a worrying discrepancy when it came to the environment.

Reacting to the speech, she said: “The Commission is right to reject the status quo and aim for systemic change for the environment and public health but there is a discrepancy between words and deeds here.

“For example, agriculture is a significant source of pollution, pollution which damages our health and the environment, but the CAP is being adopted on the legislative proposal that predates both this Commission and the adoption of the European Green Deal (EGD).

“The CAP is not aligned with the EGD and the Farm to Fork strategy. This is the status quo and at odds with the principle of consistency enshrined in the EU Treaty. Systemic change is not happening here, which means that the environment and public health are not going to improve.

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“The EU budget still subsidies fossil fuels. This is the status quo. Just yesterday the Parliament voted on the Just Transition Fund and agreed to let in a significant derogation for fossil gas.”

“It’s also not enough to stress the importance of the rule of law, it needs to be embedded in actual decisions. There needs to be strong conditionality in the EU budget and the Next generation EU plan with a robust mechanism to ensure compliance from Member States which benefit from EU financial support.

Berthier concluded: “So fine words need to be matched with strong action. Otherwise this Commission will keep the status quo, which is bad for the environment and for public health.”