Cañete approved as climate commissioner

8 October 2014

The European Parliament tonight voted to approve Miguel Arias Cañete as the new EU Commissioner for Climate and Energy in what Friends of the Earth Europe has described as a victory for polluting industry and vested interests.

Members of the Parliament's environment and industry committees voted to approve Mr Cañete's appointment as the EU's top civil servant for climate change in a secret ballot.

MEPs voted against another Commissioner-designate – Alenka Bratušek – who was named as Commissioner and Vice-President for Energy Union.

A deal has allegedly been struck to now include sustainability, climate action and energy in the portfolio of the most senior Commission Vice President, Frans Timmermans.

Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"Friends of the Earth Europe is disappointed that the Parliament has supported the candidacy of Mr Cañete, who we believe continues to have conflicts of interest. People will be watching his actions closely and he will have to prove he is acting independently, and working for the benefit of the climate, not polluters.

"Friends of the Earth welcomes the apparent recognition of the need to include sustainability, climate and energy at the most senior levels of Commission decision making. Commissioner Timmermans will need to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of all EU decisions, and most importantly guides our climate and energy policy."

Mr Cañete has a long history of alleged conflicts of interest as a politician in Spain and as a member of the European Parliament. He held shares in oil companies which he has recently sold, but his family continues to be involved in the oil industry and this continues to represent a conflict of interest according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

His role as an administrator of one of the official representatives of the Spanish subsidiary of a Panama-based company Angelmo Operational Corp also remains a concern, given the fact that Panama was on the Spanish list of recognised tax havens between 1991 and 2013. [1]

More than half a million European citizens have signed a petition against Mr Cañete's appointment as the EU's top civil servant for climate change. 

The grave concerns about Mr Cañete are part of a bigger picture of serious doubts about the whole direction of the new European Commission as proposed by the President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker. The Green 10 coalition of leading environment groups has called for the whole Commission to be rejected unless it is restructured to prioritise the interest of citizens and our environment over business interests.



[1] Arias Canete held a stake in two oil companies, Petrolifera Ducar and Petrologis Canarias, until September 2014. He acted as chairman of the two oil companies from 2005 to 2011. His brother-in-law and family continue to control both oil companies.