European Council Climate Decision Powers

Green Member of the European Parliament Claude Turmes says last week’s conclusions of the European Council amount to a “coup”, taking over powers from the Parliament.

He is worried about this passage in the first paragraph of the conclusions:

The European Council will keep all the elements of the framework under review and will continue to give strategic orientations as appropriate, notably with respect to consensus on ETS, non-ETS, interconnections and energy efficiency.

He seems to think that this might mean a change in decision powers. Where formerly the European Parliament and the Council could decide on these matters with majority votes, this passage means that now all these powers are transferred to the European Council. In that case, all decisions would need an unanimous vote, which would slow down speed to whatever the dirtiest Member State (*ahem* Poland *ahem*) wants.

For this to be true, there are two conditions.

For one, the passage above would need to mean that the European Council wished to transfer legislation powers. Another possible reading is that it just means that the European Council will keep these items on its agenda. Obviously, the European Council has the power to set its own agenda.

Also, even if the European Council wished to transfer all decisions on climate change and energy away from the Parliament and Council, the only way to actually do that would be to change the Treaties. You can’t just change the distribution of power by unilateral declaration in a European Council conclusion document.

Therefore, I don’t agree with Turmes. I think this is just the European Council stating that these are important matters that will remain on the agenda of the Heads of State. And I agree with that assessment. The European Council should keep all of the elements of the framework under review.

Actually from the position of Turmes, who thinks the decision lacks in ambition, keeping it under review is a good thing, since that means it may be changed to something more in line with his ideas as a result of such review.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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