Miguel Arias Canete, Spain’s former agriculture and environment minister, was nominated as the European Union’s next commissioner for climate and energy, becoming the first single supervisor of those two policy areas. Energy policy now moving up the EU agenda.
Canete, 64, was chosen by European Commission President-designate Jean-Claude Juncker to take over from Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger. He will oversee drafting energy and climate policies for the next decade following a political deal on carbon-reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy targets that EU leaders aim to reach in October.
“Climate action and energy policy go hand-in-hand and are now in one pair of hands,” the EU said in a statement today in Brussels.
The new commission will take office as energy policy is moving up the EU agenda amid a crisis in Ukraine, the transit country for around half of Russian natural gas to Europe, and the unrest in Middle East. The 28-nation bloc also aims to lead the global fight against climate change as nations worldwide prepare for a global carbon-reduction deal in Paris in 2015.
“Being able to build a bridge between Europe and Latin America may help during climate negotiations in Lima building to Paris next year,” Peter Sweatman, head of Madrid-based consultancy Climate Strategy S.L., said today in a telephone interview. “He may also be able to bring a fresh look at the balance between supply-side and demand-side policies within Europe’s energy strategy.”
A lawyer by training, Canete was a member of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government from 2011 until 2014, when he was elected to the EU Parliament in May. He previously served as a member of the EU assembly from 1986 until 1999. In his new role, he will oversee EU directorates general for climate and energy, which will remain two separate entities.
Canete will also be responsible for the planned introduction of an overhaul of the EU emissions-trading system, the world’s biggest cap-and-trade program. EU lawmakers expect a deal on the proposal to introduce a carbon-market stability reserve in the first half of next year.