Hoekstra: the “right” politician to be Euro Commissioner of Climate Action.

Hoekstra: the “right” politician to be Euro Commissioner of Climate Action.

Berlin, Vienna, the Hague, and Stockholm; these are just a few of many European cities where the streets are filled with the sound of the voices of climate activists, begging for a change. With alarming reports from the UN about the world not being on track to reach the 2030 goals from the Paris Agreements and with, again, record-breaking temperatures this summer, the call for climate action is one shared by many. That’s why all eyes are now focussed on the new Eu Commissioner-designate for Climate Action: the Dutch Christian democrat Wopke Hoekstra. He will be the one filling the seat of social democrat Frans Timmermans. The question now raised is not only if Hoekstra is the right man for the job, but also if he will be the man for the political right.

A change in policy

The European Commission works differently than other EU institutions, it works as follows: While, for example, the European Parliament represents their voters, the European Commission actually represents no one; they work in the favour of ALL of Europe, not just their own political party or country. This requires them to be neutral, but a lot of questions have been raised if that’s even possible. Not only is Hoekstra a centre-right politician, but he also used to work for Shell and he used to oppose Timmermans’ nature restoration law. Leftist politicians and activists alike worry about whether this will withhold Hoekstra from working objectively.

This is something you can never know for sure, says Dr. Gijs Jan Brandsma, professor at the University of Amsterdam, but this is not something to worry too greatly about in this case since Hoekstra will not hold the same power as his predecessor did. 

The Green Deals used to be a part of Timmermans’ file, but Hoekstra will not inherit it. In a show of good faith towards the left, now the balance has tipped more towards the right, the Green Deal has been given to the Slovak social democrat Maroš Šefčovič by the European Commission. Hoekstra will still have the climate file, but he will have relatively smaller tasks and work on a more international level. All the heavy, really important files will go to Šefčovič. 

On top of that, Hoekstra will not have free reign. He will work with the same team as Timmermans did. This includes social democrat Diederik Samsom. This all means that a big change in policy will be unlikely. He will just be the seat warmer until the next elections in June of 2024.


Still, a lot of people are not happy with Hoekstra, just like Extinction Rebellion activist Eeke Anne de Ruig. She is scared that because of Hoekstra’s history with Shell, this will indeed influence his decision making and make him vulnerable to lobbyists trying to interfere, a sentiment shared with many. Hoekstra just being a seat warmer is not enough; In a world where we are falling behind on reaching the climate goals for 2030, a half year doing nothing will simply not suffice.

Activists protest for climate change. The board reads: “Maybe Wopke can fic this?”
Photo by: Merel Hendriks

He is seen as “a delayer.” These are the people who acknowledge there is a climate problem, but claim it’s too difficult to make big changes now, not wanting to impact their way of living. But this won’t stop her and many others from fighting for the climate; they will simply keep protesting until changes are made.

Hoekstra’s hearing with the European Parliament will be on Monday October 2nd. The decision about if he gets the seat is expected a few days later on the 5th.

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