Discussions on climate change and the transition to a climate-neutral European Union

Author Details
Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2019
Content Type ,


Reports, analyses and information on the discussions held between Member States at European Council level on addressing climate change and transitioning to a climate-neutral European Union (EU).

Further information:

The European Commission adopted in November 2018 a Communication on a climate-neutral economy, which aims at launching a debate for a long-term strategy that is able to confirm the European Union's commitment to lead in global climate action and to present a vision that can lead to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a socially-fair transition in a cost-efficient manner.

Facing an increasing level of pressure by public opinion across Europe for climate change to become a key political issue - such as youth action on climate change and the electoral growth of green parties - the European Union and its Member States engaged in discussions to determine a long-term strategy which can ensure a transition towards a carbon-neutral European Union.

On 9 May 2019, a number of Member States published a non-position setting out their position on climate change. On 20 June, the European Council failed to agree on the goal of a climate-neutral EU by 2050 due to the opposition of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia. National leaders agreed that a climate-neutral EU should:

  • take into account specificities of the EU countries;
  • preserve the competitiveness of European industry;
  • use just and socially balanced measures;
  • respect member states' right to decide on own energy mix;
  • build on the measures already in place to achieve 2030 reduction target.

An update on the EU-wide and international discussions relating to these matters was undertaken by the Council of the European Union on 26 June.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
EurActiv: Climate strategy 2050 https://www.euractiv.com/sections/climate-strategy-2050/
The Guardian, 12/06/2019: What will it take for the UK to reach net zero emissions? https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/12/what-will-it-take-for-the-uk-to-reach-net-zero-emissions
BBC News, 17/06/2019: EU leaders face pressure to deliver on climate change https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48621860
EurActiv, 19/06/2019: Europe’s youth want climate action. Elected leaders should give it to them https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/opinion/europes-youth-want-climate-action-elected-leaders-should-give-it-to-them/
Euro|topics, June 2019: Climate goals now just a footnote in EU https://www.eurotopics.net/en/222194/
Politico, 25/06/2019: Behind 4 countries’ resistance to an EU climate neutral goal https://www.politico.eu/article/whats-behind-the-resistance-of-four-countries-to-an-eu-climate-neutral-goal-of-2050/

BBC News, 12/06/2019: Climate change: Should the UK's 2050 target be sooner? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-48616224
EurActiv, 12/06/2019: UK PM agrees legally binding net-zero emissions target for 2050 https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/uk-prime-minister-agrees-legally-binding-net-zero-emissions-target-for-2050/
Politico, 16/06/2019: Germany joins push for EU-wide 2050 net zero emissions goal https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-joins-push-for-eu-wide-net-zero-emissions-goal/
EurActiv, 17/06/2019: 18 EU countries now support 2050 carbon neutrality goal https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/18-eu-countries-sign-up-to-2050-carbon-neutrality-goal/
Reuters, 17/06/2019: More EU leaders sign up to carbon net-zero goal by 2050 ahead of summit https://uk.reuters.com/article/dUKKCN1TI1Y5
Irish Times, 18/06/2019: Ireland to support EU carbon-neutral objective for 2050 https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/ireland-to-support-eu-carbon-neutral-objective-for-2050-1.3929731
EurActiv, 18/06/2019: Hungary backs 2050 climate neutrality goal, bringing EU total to 22 https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/hungary-says-no-climate-neutrality-without-nuclear-but-backs-eu-target/
The Guardian, 20/06/2019: Central European countries block EU moves towards 2050 zero carbon goal https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/20/eu-leaders-to-spar-over-zero-carbon-pledge-for-2050
The New York Times, 20/06/2019: E.U. Leaders Fail to Strengthen Climate Target https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/climate/europe-carbon-neutral.html
EurActiv, 20/06/2019: EU climate deal falls at summit, four countries wield the axe https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/eu-climate-deal-falls-at-summit-four-countries-wield-the-axe/
EurActiv, 20/06/2019: EU leaders to back carbon neutrality ‘by 2050’, come up short on final deal https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/eu-leaders-to-back-carbon-neutrality-by-2050-come-up-short-on-final-deal/
Bloomberg, 20/06/2019: Poland Blocks Merkel’s Push to End EU Carbon Emissions by 2050 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-20/poland-blocks-german-push-to-end-eu-carbon-emissions-by-2050
EUObserver, 20/06/2019: Four states block EU 2050 carbon neutral target https://euobserver.com/environment/145227
The Independent, 21/06/2019: Eastern European states block bid for EU climate change 2050 decarbonisation target https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/climate-change-2050-eu-eastern-europe-carbon-neutral-summit-countries-a8968141.html
Deutsche Welle, 21/06/2019: Blocked EU fails on climate pledge, despite increasing public pressure https://p.dw.com/p/3Kp0g
Radio Prague, 21/06/2019: EU Summit: Czechia among eastern states to derail 2050 climate target https://www.radio.cz/en/section/news/eu-summit-czechia-among-eastern-states-to-derail-2050-climate-target
Climate Home News, 21/06/2019: EU climate deal fails amid four-nation revolt https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/06/21/eu-climate-deal-fails-amid-four-nation-revolt/
EurActiv, 25/06/2019: EU countries urged to see ‘opportunity in climate change’ https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-environment/news/eu-countries-urged-to-see-opportunity-in-climate-change/
EurActiv, 28/06/2019: EU takes stock after climate deal disappointment https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-strategy-2050/news/eu-takes-stock-after-climate-deal-disappointment/

European Commission: 2050 long-term strategy https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/2050_en
European Council: European Council conclusions on the MFF, climate change, disinformation and hybrid threats, external relations, enlargement and the European Semester, 20 June 2019 https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/06/20/european-council-conclusions-20-june-2019/

Subject Categories
Subject Tags
International Organisations