In a statement issued on Friday, the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament state: “As First Vice-President of the Commission – and responsible for the Green Deal – Frans Timmermans took on an inspiring, herculean and pivotal role to translate Europe’s climate ambitions into policies protecting people and the planet.”
It goes on, “We hope Europe’s loss will be the Netherlands’ gain. Despite Frans Timmermans’ departure, we will continue working to ensure that Europe transforms into a climate-neutral continent through a fair transition, leaving no one behind.
“Against the backdrop of the conservative EPP’s recent cynical and populist manoeuvres to water-down the Green Deal and derail key legislative files such as the nature restauration law, it is crucial for our Group that the climate portfolio remains in the hands of the Socialists and Democrats family.
“Wopke Hoekstra became known to the wider European public with controversial statements during the Covid-19 crisis. A Commissioner nominee does not make a Commissioner – let alone get the support of the S&D Group by default. Any Commissioner-designate must go through serious and tough hearings in the European Parliament.
“During these hearings, the S&D Group will – as always – test the candidate on his European commitments and values. To gain the support of our Group, any Commissioner-designate has to prove beyond doubt their commitment to European values, such as solidarity as a corner stone of our union.”
Timmermans has announced he will leave the EU Commission for a possible return to domestic politics in his native Netherlands.
The Commission has moved to assign the role of Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal to Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.