Brussels, 13 December 2019 – Yesterday, at the European Council meeting, the heads of state and government of the EU member states discussed achieving climate neutrality in the EU by 2050 and expressed their readiness to commit to it. This would mean that the EU does not emit more greenhouse gases than it captures. Only one member state needs more time to join the target and the Council will therefore discuss the issue again in June next year.
The goal of EU’s climate neutrality is important to Estonia and has been approved by the government. According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, the member states understand the importance of the climate neutrality objective and the need to achieve it together. “Obviously, setting goals is not enough – we also need to know how and what we are doing to achieve climate neutrality. Countries also have different starting positions, but we have a common goal we are all striving towards. The transition must be fair and take these specific aspects into account. Every country must decide for themselves how to reach the target and which technologies to use, while naturally also ensuring energy security,” said Ratas.
The Council considered it important to support the achievement of climate neutrality with a framework which would take the current situation of the member states into account and help to ensure a cost-effective, fair, and socially balanced transition to the new economic model.
According to Ratas, these steps require significant public and private sector investments. “The next long-term budget must contribute to the achievement of climate goals and it is therefore important that its overall volume does not decrease compared to the current period,” said Ratas.
The prime minister stressed the importance of the forthcoming fair transition mechanism proposal of the European Commission, which should act as support to the Estonian oil shale sector. The European Investment Bank has pledged to support investments in climate action and environmental sustainability with one trillion euros over the period of 2021–2030.
The heads of state addressed the long-term budget of the EU and stressed the importance of actively continuing negotiations under the leadership of the new President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, gave an overview to the heads of state of the Normandy summit that took place in Paris on 9 December. As Russia fails to comply with the Minsk agreements, the Council decided to extend restrictive measures against Russia for the next six months.
EU leaders also discussed the cooperation between the EU and Africa and are planning a strategic debate in June next year on the relations between the union and Africa, as well as the next summit with the African Union.
The Council expressed its support for a rule-based world order and its concerns over the suspension of the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO).