EU First Vice-President and leader of the Green Deal Frans Timmermans has announced his departure from the European Commission to run in national elections in the Netherlands in November.
The EU Green Deal comprises a wide-ranging package of policies that seek to support the continent’s transition to net zero. Last week, members of the European Parliament voted on the Nature Restoration Act, a key piece of Green Deal legislation.
The €1.8tn ($2tn) package has a core mandate of reducing the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, with the aim of becoming the first net-zero continent by 2050.
But the Green Deal’s primary proponent will not be around to push it forward for much longer. The chaotic departure of current Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte earlier this month, following the collapse of his government, precipitated a snap general election in the Netherlands, due to take place in November.
Timmermans announced his Prime Ministerial bid on national Dutch television on 20 July, commenting: “This morning I told the Labour and Green Left parties that I would love to be a candidate to lead them in the next elections.” The two parties voted to join forces last week in an attempt to bring unity to the Netherland’s fractured parliament.
“I want to become prime minister because I think we can do politics differently than in recent years, that we can create a more just society, in which the market serves the people and not the other way around,” said Timmermans. According to local newspaper De Volkskrant, Timmermans had already informed the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, of his imminent departure.
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The Green Deal: before and after Timmermans’ departure
The Green Deal, spearheaded by Timmermans, has sought to unify EU members on net-zero, energy transition and climate change policy.
“We are catapulting Europe ahead of other major emitters and leading global climate action and doing this in a way that is good for our economy,” Timmermans said in a speech last month.
“Through our international cooperation and our diplomatic outreach, we took our international partners along. The United States has returned to the Paris Agreement and is fast transforming its economy, and we have to be sure that they don’t overtake us. Thanks to our strong push and leadership, the world agreed on the ambitious global biodiversity agreement at Kunming-Montreal last year,” he went on.
Elections for Members of the European Parliament are due to take place in all countries within the bloc from 6–9 June 2024. A new European Commission is also due to be appointed in Autumn 2024. Although the current commission made the Green Deal one of its six priorities for 2019–24, it is yet to be determined whether or not the next commission will have the same commitment to the deal.
Editor’s note: This article was corrected on 24 July to clarify that Timmermans is leaving the European Commission.