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 Full text 
Wednesday, 17 April 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

CO2 emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles (debate)

  Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I would like to thank honourable Members for this debate. I would like to start by answering a direct question that was raised by Mr Sośnierz. He raised a question about what this Parliament has done for climate change. My answer is: quite a lot. What has the European Union done for climate change? Quite a lot.

Before 2020, we established ambitious targets and, in 2017, we reduced our emissions by more than 22%, compared with 1990, while GDP grew by 58%. We have reduced emissions, we have developed renewables and we have increased energy efficiency. But this Parliament, in five years, has delivered a formidable legislative framework on energy and climate. I have been in politics for 38 years, and I have served in regional, national and European parliaments. In any period in my life, I don’t recall such intense legislative activity as we have seen in these years, and I have to thank the chairmen and chairwomen of the committees – Jerzy Buzek, Adina Vălean, Giovanni La Via – and all the rapporteurs, starting with my friend, Bas Eickhout, who did impressive work, not only here, but also making my life difficult in the Renewables Directive.

It’s really true, because what have we done? We have established a substantial number of pieces of legislation, which will deliver a reduction of emissions in 2030 of 45% and, if they are unchanged (but they will be changed), in 2050 will deliver a 60% reduction of emissions. So we have a substantial package. One of the most important things is the average level of political support for these proposals. In the Energy Package, 80% of the votes in each package were in favour, and on climate, without taking account of tomorrow’s vote, 76%. There has been substantial political support for the legislation we have implemented for 2050, and in this House that is not so frequent. That means there has been dialogue and understanding. We have given up positions, we have negotiated and, for me, I can say it has been a formidable experience. I have participated in 71 trilogues and I have spent more than 350 hours of my life in difficult dialogues.

It has been a formidable experience, and I want to thank all of you, because this has been a wonderful job that, without the involvement of the Members of this Parliament, would have been impossible, because the Parliament has raised the level of ambition of the Commission proposals. I am happy about that. This is the gain. This is the institutional way of going forward. I think that we have a cumbersome procedure, but it has the fundamental value that the legislation will be applied in the next ten years, and we will have review clauses to increase ambition over time. And the next Parliament will have to take the responsibility and increase ambition.

But this Parliament has not finished its work. In the last opinion poll, published last Wednesday, I saw that 77% of potential voters identified global warming as an important criterion when deciding who to vote for in the May European elections, and that’s a very important issue. I think when we have the European elections, climate change policy has been one of the main factors to be discussed within them. I encourage all of you to do two things. First, I want you to explain to the European people what we have done during these five years and also to say what you want to do in the next five years. I think that will bring more people to the polling stations and will give bigger support to the next Parliament. We will have the position that, in the next five years, we will complete this package, we will make further progress and we will work together towards making the European Union the first major economy to become climate neutral in 2050.

Last updated: 9 July 2019Legal notice