Socialist Teresa Ribera, Spain's vice-president and Minister for Ecological Transition, has harshly attacked Von der Leyen for committing “climate mistakes” at the head of the Commission. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET


EC hopeful Ribera attacks von der Leyen for ‘climate mistakes’


Teresa Ribera, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Ecological Transition, has attacked European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for committing “climate mistakes” during her time in office.

Referring to von der Leyen, the Socialist parliamentarian told Brussels-based media that working with what she called the “extreme Right” and diluting the green agenda revealed “an attitude of resignation that is enormously pernicious” and “enormously harmful to European interests”. She went on to attack von der Leyen’s group, the European People’s Party (EPP).

Ribera said she felt von der Leyen’s shift marked “an enormous political and economic mistake” and that moving closer to the Right only revealed “an attitude of resignation that is enormously pernicious”.

“The unacceptable cannot be accepted,” Ribera insisted.

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party member has been leading the country’s green transition for years and is well-known in Brussels.

She is also one of the favourites to become the next Commissioner for the Environment after the June elections, with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez naming her as the head of his party’s list for the European Parliament race.

If the Spaniard were successful in her bid, some believe that her radical climate politics could further strain von der Leyen’s relations with Europe’s conservatives.

The key question is whether von der Leyen, if she is re-installed, would again put up with a potentially problematic figure at the helm of the EU’s green policies.

She already had difficulties with Frans Timmermans as Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal until he left for Dutch politics in October last year.

Bowing to climate demands from the Left has caused several problems within her party.

That is not the only reason why Sánchez may have to fight to get Ribera into the Berlaymont building.

The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union that ended on December 31 has also damaged relations, with negotiations surrounding the country’s proposed amnesty law having caused headaches for von der Leyen’s cabinet.