Too much rancour in the EU’s CO2 emissions talks over the next three months could delay the legislation for years.
2018 was an important year for EU energy legislation, as lawmakers rushed to complete the promises of President Jean-Claude Juncker before the end of the term in just four months time. But it is still uncertain whether these new energy laws, including the bloc’s first limits on CO2 emissions from trucks, will be passed before the March deadline.
If lawmakers run out of time, it could mean that new lawmakers have to start over from the beginning when they take office this summer, following the pan-European election in May.
The end of the five-year term of the European Commission, the EU’s executive which drafts legislation, and the European Parliament, the directly-elected chamber that adjusts and approves that legislation, is fast approaching. And this time, the end-of term crunch is even more stressful because of Brexit.
The EU’s other co-legislating body, the Council of Ministers, also must approve legislation. The Council and the Parliament each draft their own versions of a new law and must agree to reconcile them into one version, much like the House and Senate in the United States. The Council is made up of ministers from the national governments of each of the 28 EU member countries, whereas the Parliament is made up of directly-elected representatives of EU citizens, bypassing the national governments.
Each minister in the Council gets a weighted vote based on the size of their country’s population. The U.K., therefor, has had the third-strongest vote in the Council, giving it a huge influence over legislation. But as of March 29, the U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU and will no longer be involved in these votes. That will majorly change the voting dynamic in the Council and would in theory mean that all votes taken before March 29 are no longer valid.
Even though the U.K. is scheduled to leave, the country’s ministers have not been behaving that way in Brussels – taking tough lines on legislation being crafted over the past year that will in theory not affect them.
This means that several Council positions on open legislation could be invalidated in three months unless they have already been passed into law. This could affect the pending legislation to set the EU’s first limits on truck CO2 emissions.