Little regard for health and environment in new Juncker Commission

HCWH Europe notes the attribution of portfolios for the next European Commission by President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, which is now subject to approval by the European Parliament. It is a matter of concern that Juncker’s agenda focuses purely on jobs, growth and competitiveness with little regard for environmental protection and the related impact on citizens’ health.

Environment and Climate Action merged with others

The Juncker Commission will mark the first time in 25 years that there has been no designated Commissioner for the Environment. This will now constitute just one of three portfolios assigned to a Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs & Fisheries.

"It seems that as the world is gradually waking up to the need for greater climate action, the Juncker Commission is closing its eyes." 

Similarly, the merger of the climate action and energy portfolios and the nomination of Miguel Arias Cañete, a former shareholder in two oil companies*, suggest that the EU’s potential to tackle "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” will be greatly diminished.[1] This is also implied in the political guidelines issued in July, which make clear that climate change policy will play an inferior role in the envisaged new European Energy Union.[2]

It is truly lamentable that this announcement falls just one month after the world’s first global working group on climate and health, and precedes the upcoming UNFCCC Lima discussions and landmark Paris 2015 conference. It seems that as the world is gradually waking up to the need for greater climate action, the Juncker Commission is closing its eyes.

Health-related files moved to DG Enterprise

HCWH Europe are also deeply concerned that major portfolios such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals have been moved from DG Environment and DG SANCO to DG Enterprise.  In doing so, we fear that the protection of the environment and human health in the long-term is ignored in favour of short-term economic benefits.

The way forward

HCWH Europe wants to see Europe succeed economically but not at the expense of the health of its citizens and of the environment. Ultimately, a healthy economy takes into consideration the health of its workers. Therefore, integrating environment and health into all policy areas would be the best approach to ensure the promised change to EU citizens.


UPDATED - 16/09/14

We were one of 34 organisations to sign an open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker on the decision to move medical devices.

* Miguel Arias Cañete has now divested his shares in energy companies.

[1] Costello A. et al. Managing the health effects of climate change. The Lancet. 2009; 373 (9676); 1693-733.

[2] Juncker, Jean-Claude, A new start for Europe: My agenda for jobs, growth, fairness and democratic change. 15 July 2014. 


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