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Voices on the change of the EU Climate Commissioner

KI asked what the change of the EU Climate Commissioner could mean for the plastics industry in this country.


Frans Timmermans, the EU Commissioner responsible for the "European Green Deal" and for circular economy issues, has resigned from his post as he is running as the frontrunner for the Social Democratic Party in the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appointed the 57-year-old Slovak Maroš Šefčovič as his successor. He has been a member of the EU Commission since 2009 and, as Commissioner for Interinstitutional Relations since the end of 2019, was responsible, among other things, for the implementation of the Brexit agreements with the UK. Kunststoff Information asked industry associations what this change means for the implementation of the "Green Deal" and what effects it could have for the German plastics and chemical industry. We summarise the statements here:

From the point of view of the GKV Gesamtverband Kunststoffverarbeitende Industrie (General Association of the Plastics Processing Industry), the most important issues that the new EU Climate Commissioner Šefčovič must address are: "Understanding that climate protection can only succeed with plastics", "Conflicts of objectives between climate policy and other environmental policy goals" must be resolved and "International partner countries such as China and the USA should be won over for greater commitment to climate protection", says GKV CEO Dr Oliver Möllenstädt. With Mr Timmermans, the Commission is losing a proven expert in climate and environmental policy, but also a hardliner with little interest in the situation of industry, says Möllenstädt.
Dr Martin Engelmann, Chief Executive of the IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen, considers it no easy task for Mr Šefčovič to follow in Frans Timmermans' footsteps. Under Timmermans' leadership, the Commission had initiated and prepared numerous laws to implement the hopes associated with the Green Deal. For example, the EU Packaging Regulation is on the final straight. In view of the short time until the new elections to the EU Parliament at the beginning of June 2024, Engelmann sees hardly any chances for the realisation of new initiatives or even for projects that have already been started, such as the amendment of the Waste Framework Directive.
On the question of the top issues that Šefčovič must tackle first from the point of view of the pro-K industry association for durable plastic products and reusable systems, pro-K interim managing director Sven Weihe says that the main task of the new climate protection commissioner is probably first of all to increase acceptance for the Green Deal among the population again. In view of the new EU Climate Action Commissioner's many years of experience with the procedures, projects and processes in the Commission, he does not expect the pace around the Green Deal to slacken. The EU Commission should not let up on its climate and environmental efforts under the new person in charge of the Green Deal, but it should do so with a sense of proportion and without expanding bureaucracy. Rapid progress in the circular economy could help make Europe less dependent on raw material imports, increase acceptance for the material and counteract the littering of the landscape, says Weihe.
For the managing director of TecPart Verband Technische Kunststoff-Produkte, Michael Weigelt, Timmermans' successor should reconcile the competing and sometimes conflicting goals of the circular economy, chemicals legislation and climate protection. He should use life cycle analyses as a yardstick when talking about product classifications and advocate for realistic recyclate targets for the EU End-of-Life Vehicles Regulation. The companies organised in TecPart have high hopes for a jointly developed path to pragmatic and realistically achievable environmental and climate protection with plastic products, says Weigelt.
Ingemar Bühler, CEO of Plastics Europe Deutschland (PED), the association of plastics producers, finds the departure of Timmermans, who has been the most important contact person for the transformation of the industry since he took office in 2019, regrettable and hopes that his successor Šefčovič will be the first to tackle the CO2 reduction targets by 2030 and initiate the regulatory course for this as well as remove the obstacles in the EU authorities. The PED also believes that the new Climate Action Commissioner should provide the financing and fiscal instruments for the Green Deal. The transformation needs capital and investment, says Bühler. The European Union would only survive if the national economy became strong - and the states could hold their own in global competition.
Further information: to the complete statements of the representatives of the associations at KI (in German, after Login)

  • Kunststoff Information (August 28, 2023)
  • Photo: © European Union, EU-Kommissar Maroš Šefčovič

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