The European Parliament is expected to pass a continent-wide ‘Climate Emergency’ resolution later today.
It precedes next month’s United Nations climate conference, COP25, in Madrid, and comes a day after EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen finally won approval for the make-up of her new team.
She has put the issues of climate change and migration at the forefront of her five-year term.
In a speech on Wednesday at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg following the comfortable win that finally approved her team, Von der Leyen pledged 3 trillion euros to help deal with these issues.
She placed emphasis on the necessity of measures to combat climate change being “inclusive”, a recognition of EU members including Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic having reservations about the Executive’s proposals:
“If there’s one area the world needs our leadership; it is on protecting our climate. This is an existential issue for Europe and for the world. How can it not be existential when 85% of people in extreme poverty live in the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change?
“And we have to make sure that those needs are fulfilled in a sustainable way. It is a generational transition towards climate neutrality by mid-century. But this transition must be just and inclusive or it will not happen at all.
“It will need massive investment in innovation, research, infrastructure, housing, and the training of people. It will require public and private investments – at the European and at national levels.”
She also reaffirmed her determination for her team to tackle the migration issue with a common approach:
‘This issue has divided us, but we should step forward. We need solutions that work for all.
“This is the task that I have entrusted to Margaritis Schinas and Ylva Johansson. With their different skills and perspectives, they will form a formidable team.
“Europe will always provide shelter to those who are in need of international protection. And it is in our interest that those who stay are integrated in our society.
“But we also have to ensure that those who have no right to stay return home.
“We have to break the cruel business model of smugglers. We must reform our asylum system, never forgetting our values of solidarity and responsibility.
“We need to strengthen our external borders to allow us to return to a fully functioning Schengen. We need to invest in our partnerships with countries of origin to improve conditions and create opportunities.
“It will not be easy – but, let us remember the words of Václav Havel: It is the good thing to do.
“Migration will not go away – it will stay with us.”