May 21. 2024. 7:00

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Greens challenge socialists on commitment to climate action

With European elections looming from 6 to 9 June, the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Greens have two main goals: win votes from the right and be clearly distinguishable from their traditional allies.

EU lawmakers will vote on the EU’s revamped fiscal rules on Tuesday (23 April). The Greens say that S&D support for the agreement will see public investment into the green transition scuppered, while the Socialists stress that only they can deliver a “socially just” transition.

“The upcoming vote on the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact is crucial for our future investment possibilities,” Bas Eickhout, who co-leads the Greens’ campaign, told Euractiv.

Across Europe, there is unanimous agreement that additional investments are needed to meet 2030 climate targets. Think-tank I4CE puts the gap at some €400 billion per annum.

“Any party that takes the future of the Green Deal seriously, cannot support the reform that will be voted this week,” explained Eickhout, a veteran EU politician who also co-led the Greens 2019 campaign.

And the Dutchman is in election mode now, too. “I trust S&D will make the right decision on this,” he added.

Off the record, several green lawmakers are more pointed, hinting that the Socialists’ support for the fiscal rules stems from a systemic issue: lack of commitment to climate action.

But with public support for climate action receding, socialists stress the importance of social policies for counterbalance.

“We need to have a climate policy that is also socially balanced … because we have to take people with us,” Nicolas Schmit, the S&D’s lead candidate for the elections, said while speaking in Berlin on Monday (22 April).

Schmit, the EU’s social commissioner, has made tying social policy to climate action a flagship concern of his campaign – following in the footsteps of Frans Timmermans, who ran in 2019 on a ‘just transition’ platform.

“We must give people the certainty that good climate policy is ultimately also compatible with good social policy,” Schmit explained.

The party is “striking a similar chord” with the Greens when it comes to policy, one S&D source told journalists in Berlin.

Going by current projections, the Greens are projected to lose two seats in the next European Parliament, dropping to 72, while the S&D stands to lose 15 and drop to 139.

Read more with Euractiv

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In today’s edition of the Capitals, find out more about the Lithuanian president saying Polish President Andrzej Duda’s visit to Trump Tower has influenced Trump’s stance on Ukraine, Czechia wanting to reintroduce a proposal to curb the travel of Russian diplomats within the Schengen area, and so much more.

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