It fits a pattern that has been playing out among EU officials in recent days — concede, trim, downplay and, under no circumstances, antagonize the farmers. The EU has rolled back or rescinded several key environmental rules in response to the protests, while noticeably adopting a farmer-friendly tone in its messaging.
Yet on the floor of the European Parliament Tuesday, the pedestrian politics of Europe’s coming elections collided with planetary physics in a resounding clash. The details of the plan that EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra was there to endorse made clear that farmers, like every other part of the European economy, will eventually face the need to drive down their emissions.
Yet even as he gave a full-throated, scientifically-backed recommendation for the EU’s target, Hoekstra insisted this was just the beginning of a conversation.
“Let me stress that word: a dialogue,” he told the European Parliament, adding, possibly with relief: “The decision to come up with a legislative proposal will be for the next Commission.”
They can talk all they want, though. A fight is coming.
“You deleted everything on agriculture,” said Bas Eickhout, a lead election candidate for the European Greens, as he chided Hoekstra during Tuesday’s parliamentary session. “You put it away in this communication, but that doesn’t make the problem go away.”