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Sefcovic appointed new chief of EU Green Deal

By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-24 09:28

Following his appointment on Tuesday, the European Commission's new Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Maros Sefcovic vowed to continue to roll out the Green Deal.

Sefcovic replaced former EU climate czar Frans Timmermans who resigned earlier in the day to contest as a prime ministerial candidate in the Netherlands' elections in November.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accepted Timmermans' resignation on Tuesday and thanked him for his "passionate and tireless work to make the European Green Deal a reality".

Sefcovic, a Slovakian politician who has been the commission's vice-president for inter-institutional relations and foresight, will also be temporarily in charge of climate action policy until the appointment of a new member of Dutch nationality.

Von der Leyen said Sefcovic's priority will be the successful rollout of the European Green Deal as Europe's growth strategy.

"The implementation of the European Green Deal requires an even more intensive dialogue with industry, key stakeholders like forest owners, farmers as well as citizens," she said.

In a message on X, formerly Twitter, Sefcovic said it is an honor to continue rolling out the EU's green deal with a strong focus on industry and the people.

"Europeans deserve a just green transition. As we aim to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050, we need to make sure this happens in a fair and inclusive way, with growth and jobs for all," the 57-year-old wrote on X.

Timmermans' resignation came at a time when the green deal is facing multiple challenges.

He chose to resign instead of taking an unpaid leave of absence to participate in the Dutch elections. He has secured the support of about 92 percent of members from the Labor and Green parties to become the coalition's candidate for Dutch prime minister.

Simone Tagliapietra, senior fellow at the think tank Bruegel in Brussels, said Sefcovic may face a lot of difficulties in successfully rolling out the green deal.

"This sounds as mission impossible. But laying the foundation for this to happen in the next EU cycle can be a good goal indeed," Tagliapietra said.

Timmermans' departure is likely to weaken the European Union's diplomatic efforts on global climate and green campaigns. He has been the EU's lead negotiator at the annual United Nations climate conference.

His departure is also likely to complicate the implementation of new laws that aim to cut the EU's carbon emissions in order to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

It may affect the successful conclusion of the Nature Restoration Law, which narrowly survived a vote in the European Parliament last month.

Members of the European Parliament and EU member state ministers are expected to start negotiations on the details of the law this fall.

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