Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission


Elements of Von der Leyen’s Green Deal reappear in leaked EU summit document


EU leaders will reintroduce “green” commitments into the EU Strategic Agenda for 2024-2029, which they are set approve at their latest summit, according to a leaked draft obtained by Brussels Signal.

Climate campaigners complained green policies were absent from a previous leaked version, with military investment largely taking their place. “You can’t shoot a wildfire and you can’t bomb a flood,” said Greenpeace’s EU spokeswoman Ariadna Rodrigo.

In the draft EU leaders will discuss on the evening of June 27 in Brussels, at which they will also likely re-nominate Ursula von der Leyen as European Cmmission President, aspects of her first term’s Green Deal have reappeared.

The bloc’s chiefs will pledge to “become the first climate-neutral continent, making a success of the climate and digital transitions, leaving no one behind”, the draft document read.

At the front of the paper, immediately after references to Russia and the Middle East, it was noted: “Our natural environment is facing increasing damage and disruption due to climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Together, we have fixed key goals to fight climate change,” along with other achievements during the pandemic and energy crisis, said the statement, which added: “But we will not rest here”.

Climate campaigners still attacked the draft strategy for, they said, not doing enough for the environment.

“Despite a light smattering of green buzzwords, the draft paper still puts corporate profits and military spending ahead of livelihoods and the basic needs of future generations,” Rodrigo told Brussels Signal.

“Shareholder earnings and bigger guns will do nothing to help people pay their bills or cope with heatwaves, floods or pollution,” she said.

With von der Leyen eyeing a July 1 vote in the European Parliament she must win to keep her job, the 53 Green MEPs have become increasingly important her after the Renew bloc faltered and was overtaken by Italian Prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR).

Renew slipping into fourth place among European Parliament groups “may increase the clout of the now depleted Greens/EFA group in the Parliament”, Green MEP Ciarán Cuffe told Brussels Signal on June 24.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, for a summit where Ukraine’s President Zelensky will join the 27 EU Member State leaders, the draft strategic agenda opened with a recognition that “Russia has brought war back to our continent”.

Defence made up a relatively substantial part of the document, with leaders set to promise a “better integrated European defence market” and “scaling up the European defence industry”.

Regarding an issue that loomed large in the European Parliament elections, it stated they “will address the long-term challenges of irregular migration and its root causes and work on returns.”

Still, von der Leyen’s first-term Green Deal appeared far from dead.

Committing to “our path towards climate neutrality by 2050”, the draft document promised “ambitious electrification, and investment in grids, storage and interconnections”.

“We will continue to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, including oceans,” it added.

It omitted, though, any specific reference to reclaiming wetlands that had become farmland — part of the EU Nature Restoration Law that had angered farmers and proved especially controversial in Ireland.

Nodding possibly to the farmers’ protests that paralysed Brussels in March, the document included a brief mention of the need to “champion vibrant rural communities”.