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MaltaToday 15 September 2021 MIDWEEK

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15 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 15 SEPTEMBER 2021 NEWS Timmermans's climate warning to MEPs: 'Our children will wage war over food and water' This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. These articles reflect only the authors' view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. MATTHEW VELLA EUROPEAN Commission vice-president Frans Timmer- mans has warned MEPs that fu- ture generations will "wage war" over food and water shortages that will be caused by the climate crisis, unless Europe leads the way in achieving massive carbon cuts. MEPs today addressed the ple- nary about ensuring the new laws proposed in the "Fit for 55 in 2030" package meet the increased climate ambitions adopted in the European Climate Law. The debate comes little more than a month after the publication of the latest IPCC report confirming cli- mate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. The European Climate Law adopted in June 2021 transforms the European Green Deal's polit- ical commitment to EU climate neutrality by 2050 into a binding obligation for the EU and member states. It also increases the EU's target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 40% to at least 55%, compared to 1990 level. "Our children will be waging war over food and water… migration today will be child's play when you compare it to the migration flows that will be provoked by the climate crisis," Timmermans said, questioning critics of the Fit For 55 package for considering that non-action could even be an op- tion. Timmermans criticised the short-termism of democratic pol- itics where parties avoid proposi- tions to the electorate that make their own election even more difficult. "There is such a lack of optimism in our society… we can- not afford to do that. We have to take the responsibility for meas- ures that in a few years will result in a just society for humanity live within the limits the planet allows us." Timmermans said MEPs had to convince the international com- munity to follow the EU's lead in working towards a carbon-neu- tral society that lives "well within planetary bounds - the bad news that it's bloody hard, the good news is that it is absolutely possi- ble to get us there. "I have more confidence in the understanding of our population that this will be necessary with the cost it will involve, than some of the politicians I have heard today. The thing is, our populations will support this… if we can show its results and that the burden will be shared in the equitable and soli- darity-based way. "Not tackling the climate crisis will lead to the most horrible so- cial inequality, because rich peo- ple can always find a way out and a place to live. Poor people, middle classes cannot, and will suffer if we don't act now." The Fit For 55 package com- prises several legislative propos- als including the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), a Carbon Border Ad- justment Mechanism (CBAM), amendments to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Di- rectives, as well as a revision of the CO2 standards for cars, Land Use, Land Use Change and forest (LULUCF) and Effort Sharing Regulations. Severe floods, landslides and forest fires hit several European countries this summer. The dis- asters caused loss of life and had a devastating impact on people's homes and livelihoods, as well as economic sectors like farming. Frans Timmermans MATTHEW VELLA A forthcoming mid-term election for the next European Parliament president could be taking a new direction in Brussels, over whether political groups will respect a 'rota- tional' deal between the two largest groups to elect first a socialist, then a member of the European People's Party as president of the EP. Incumbent socialist MEP David Sasso- li could be bidding for a second term as president after the head of the EPP group, Manfred Weber, said he will forgo a possi- ble candidature to instead secure the dual presidency of both his MEPs' group and the EPP national parties' group, currently held by former Council president Donald Tusk. This has created room for the possible nomination of Maltese MEP and vice-pres- ident of the European Parliament, Robert Metsola for election to the post of EP pres- ident. But in a return from their recess on Tues- day, MEP presidents' briefings ahead of the State of the Union address were focused on whether they will respect the rotation of presidents from socialists to the EPP. The S&D president Iratxe Garcia Perez was especially pressed by journalists as to whether her group had a categorical posi- tion on respecting the rotation of the pres- idency. "The EPP is not going to decide on the timetable of the socialist group. At the mo- ment, our group wants to work on the poli- cies we have on the table… we're concerned with our citizens' preoccupations. As we always said, we will talk with all European political forces about the second part of the legislature, because we are responsible… At the moment, we are not yet dealing with the issue," she said. Garcia Perez said the EPP had not even de- cided on its prospective candidate, and that the S&D itself had not yet taken a position on the matter, skirting a clear yes or no on whether the socialists would respect the ro- tation of the presidency. Garcia Perez said Sassoli had been "an extraordinary" president for the European Parliament during a difficult year. "We are talking about the future of an institution, not the person here, and how the socialist group can ensure this future. When we will broach this debate, we'll bear all this in mind." The co-president of the Greens, German MEP Ska Keller, said her group supported a mid-term election for a president but ex- pressed caution on statements by political groups "which think they own this posi- tion". The group is yet to discuss the matter. "There is no group that owns this position, neither at the beginning nor at the end of the term. The EP must decided on its own who it wants the president to be." But Keller also said the Greens wanted any EP president to be a "good president, who can represent the institution, who strength- ens internal democracy" and commented that it was a "huge pity" that few women have been at the helm of the institution. The Renew president Dacian Ciolos al- so said the liberals favoured more women to stand for the post: "We would be happy to see women candidates as well… We in principle abide by the 2019 agreement, but we expect the same from our partners. In 2019 we had agreed on support of the co- ordination of a conference for the Future of Europe proposed by Renew, but that did not come to fruition." Roberta Metsola is touted as one of two senior names, the other being the Dutch MEP Esther de Lange, who could be fa- voured for the EPP nomination for the next Euoprean Parliament president. Manfred Weber is currently chairman of the EPP parliamentary group and is seek- ing re-election as such, but he also intends replacing Donald Tusk as the president of the EPP pan-European party, a second job in itself, in April 2022. Weber wants to act as both leader of his MEPs' group, and Christian-democrat and centre-right parties across Europe, a move that gives him even more power over conservative MEPs and their national parties. Weber might have also deduced he would not be elected as parliamentary president to replace the socialist David Sassoli, given that another German, Ursula von der Leyen, al- ready leads the European Commission. The EPP might instead prioritise senior fe- male candidates for the job. David Sassoli, an Italian social democrat, became Parliament president in 2019 as part of a broader agreement inside the EU bloc to split institutional roles between the major parties: Sassoli is expected to stand down when his term ends in January 2022, to be replaced by someone from the EPP; the EPP took the European Commission post for Ursula von der Leyen, while Renew Europe picked Charles Michel for the Euro- pean Council. But MEPs say Sassoli is quietly campaign- ing for a second term, despite the traditional power-sharing arrangement between so- cialists and conservatives, the leading forces in the assembly. Socialist MEPs think Sassoli is frustrated because much of his term was overshadowed by the COVID-19 crisis and the introduction of complex measures to protect MEPs and staff. Metsola could be pushed for top EP job But will MEPs respect rotation deal? Roberta Metsola

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