Hearing of Commissioner-designate Wopke Hoekstra 

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The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety questioned Wopke Hoekstra from the Netherlands, Commissioner-designate for Climate Action.

During his introductory speech, Mr Hoekstra stressed that the Green Deal lays the foundation for the EU’s green transition and underlined that it is of utmost importance to maintain continuity in the EU’s climate ambitions. He hopes to ensure this by swiftly concluding pending climate negotiations and by proposing an ambitious climate target for 2040 in the first quarter of 2024, he said.

Mr Hoekstra emphasised that the EU “cannot reach climate neutrality alone”. Global cooperation and climate finance are key during the upcoming UN climate change conference COP28, he stressed, vowing to work “non-stop for success in Dubai”. He underlined that building a global “Loss and Damage coalition” is crucial to raise finance for developing countries and build trust.

Finally, Mr Hoekstra stressed the importance of phasing out fossil fuels, as well as fossil fuels subsidies. “The sooner fossil fuels become history, the better”, he said, as they are “counterproductive for the EU’s energy transition”.

Questions by MEPs

MEPs asked the Commissioner-designate if he would take into account the advice of the European Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change and commit to present a binding and science-based EU climate target for 2040, as well as an indicative greenhouse gas budget for 2030-2050.

They also asked several questions on how he saw EU priorities for the COP28 and key elements of the EU’s climate diplomacy to make all major emitters be more ambitious. They wanted to know how he intends to work for a swift phase-out of fossil fuels subsidies both in the EU and globally in line with the Paris Agreement.

Some MEPs called for the adoption of ongoing legislative files to be facilitated, such as on CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles, EURO7, energy taxation and carbon removals. Others questioned the Commissioner-designate on how he would finance the green transition. They asked what action he would take to promote investment in new clean technologies, to ensure EU competitiveness and regulatory certainty while upholding EU climate standards and to make sure the EU’s green transition is socially balanced. Some asked if he would drastically reduce livestock in the EU and about his views on the EU nature restoration law.

The committees on Industry, Research and Energy, on Foreign Affairs and on Development participated in his hearing.

You can watch the full hearing again here.

Mr Hoekstra was nominated to replace Frans Timmermans, who resigned on 22 August, following his decision to run as a candidate in the forthcoming general election campaign in the Netherlands.

Next steps

Based on the committee’s recommendations and the assessment by the Conference of Committee Chairs, the Conference of Presidents will conduct the final evaluation and decide whether to close the hearing process and hold a plenary vote.