Breakdown of microphones, change of room, spicy questions about his background, criticism regarding his convictions, nothing was spared to Wopke Hoekstra, candidate for the post of European Commissioner for Climate Action during his hearing on the evening of Monday October 2.
In front of MEPs who are members of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament, this former Dutch minister gave of himself to try to prove that he was made for the position , where he must replace his compatriot Frans Timmermans, the architect of the European “Green Deal”, who left Brussels to participate in the Dutch elections in the fall at the head of a left-wing coalition.
During this vast seduction operation, Wopke Hoekstra presented himself as a “child of Europe”, stressed that he felt at home “anywhere in Europe”. “I have a lot of admiration for our Union,” he said during his syrupy introductory remarks, before promising MEPs that if he was confirmed as European Commissioner, he would defend “the interests of all European citizens”.
EU: the criticized candidacy of Wopke Hoekstra to be the next “mister climate”
But even before the start of this grand oral organized in Strasbourg, the career of this 48-year-old conservative, who worked for the Shell company or the consulting firm McKinsey, raised eyebrows among many elected officials, like by the French ecologist Karima Delli, convinced that “when we have been immersed in oil for many years, we are not equipped to carry out major European climate policies”.
“You are not a climate champion”
So, during the long question-and-answer session, some deputies did not go with the back of the spoon, mocking his ministerial action in the Netherlands, criticizing his presumed disinterest in biodiversity or animal welfare and attacking its links with European industry. “You are not a climate champion,” said his compatriot Bas Eickhout, who is none other than the vice-president of the ENVI commission.
Always smiling, never tired, Wopke Hoekstra responded to all the criticisms, one by one, and tried to mollify MEPs by calling for a European tax on air travel or a summit on automobiles to support the sector in the abandonment of thermal engines.
Vote on October 5
He did not hesitate to speak out on sensitive subjects such as the future of glyphosate in the European Union (EU), the place of nuclear power in the energy “mixes” of Member States or the reform of common budgetary rules. He has tried to portray himself as a man who is passionate about climate policies, even if it means overdoing it, for example when he called himself “a lover of the EU emissions trading system”.
A vote will be organized on Thursday October 5 in plenary to decide the future of the former Dutch Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs. If he becomes European commissioner responsible for climate action, he will have to, in his own words, “continue the legacy of the European Green Deal”.
This Pact (not yet fully completed) intends to make the EU the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. But, at the end of the mandate, the composition of the college of commissioners that Wopke Hoekstra dreams of integrating will be redesigned next year.