Emmanuel Macron's 'climate regulatory pause' is a bad signal for Europe

Emmanuel Macron called for a "European environmental regulatory pause" but this is not the time to take a break from the fight against climate change.

May 22, 2023
A wind turbine in a field of sunflowers

Emmanuel Macron called for a "European regulatory pause" of 5 years to avoid weakening industrial players in the face of competition from China or the United States, at the presentation of his plan for France’s reindustrialisation. 

He stressed the importance of first implementing the standards already decided before creating new rules. For the French President, the European Union already has the most ambitious standards in terms of the fight against climate change and it is necessary to ensure that European manufacturers are not excessively penalised in order to be able to continue producing in Europe.

Putting economy and ecology at odds is a serious error in judgement

This call by the French President has raised the concerns of Volt Europa as well as many NGOs and climate specialists. It comes after other equally confusing statements, such as his comment "who could have predicted the climate crisis that would have significant effects in our country again this summer?”. 

Macron’s position can only give arguments to those who wish to limit the environmental ambition of the European Union, such as the EPP, which is demanding a moratorium on European standards, particularly in the agricultural sector. We expected better from the President of the "European Renaissance" and "Make our planet great again" than an alignment with these positions. 

Indeed, we are still a long way from meeting the targets set by the Paris Agreements; therefore, considering slowing down action to prevent climate change is simply not responsible. The EU must remain at the forefront of environmental issues and cannot afford to take the easy way out by reducing its ambition. The political signal given by a "regulatory pause" would be disastrous for economic actors: industry needs clear political action, with clearly stated objectives and determined legislative implementation. On the contrary, the transition to a climate-neutral economy must be seen as an unavoidable horizon that mobilises all stakeholders.

Strong climate ambitions are essential for the environment and our industry

Contrary to Macron’s position, Volt Europa is calling for an increase in European climate ambition. If we want to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement, a 55% reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2030 as set in the European Green Deal is not enough. For Volt Europa, it is crucial to implement an 80% reduction in our emissions by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 to accelerate the global effort to fight climate change. This ambition implies the adoption of all the necessary European standards to ensure the effectiveness of this reduction. 

Tomorrow's global economic leaders can only be companies that have integrated climate constraints and that have made an effective transition to more sustainable production methods. Therefore, it is essential to support industrial players so that they integrate these new constraints as quickly as possible. 

And while  we need to protect our industry from competition from other powers, this must not be at the expense of climate requirements. For this reason, Volt Europa proposes to reform the European carbon market by introducing a border adjustment mechanism to ensure that production from third countries does not have an unfair advantage over that of European companies. The measures adopted by the European Parliament and the Council at the end of April are a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of progress to be made to meet the climate challenge. 

This is definitely not the time to take a break.

Article by Vincent Szlingier from Volt in France.

Photo credits: © Rémi Jouan, CC-BY-SAGNU Free Documentation LicenseWikimedia Commons