Karmenu Vella To Replace Potočnik As Environment Commissioner

Maltese politician Karmenu Vella has been appointed as the new European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, after outgoing Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik steps down after four years in the role.

The announcement was made by the President-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Karmenu Vella will be responsible for the environment and also maritime affairs and fisheries.

This is comes under what has been described as a “streamlining of posts”, to “focus on tackling the big political challenges Europe is facing: getting people back to work in decent jobs, triggering more investment, making sure banks lend to the real economy again, creating a connected digital market, a credible foreign policy and ensuring Europe stands on its own feet when it comes to energy security”.

Jean-Claude Juncker – “After years of economic hardship and often painful reforms, Europeans expect a performing economy, sustainable jobs, more social protection, safer borders, energy security and digital opportunities. Today I am presenting the team that will put Europe back on the path to jobs and growth”

Mr Vella is a member of the Maltese Labour Party and has previously served in the government as Minister for Public Works, Minister for Industry and Minister for Tourism.

On creating his new team, President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker said: “In these unprecedented times, Europe’s citizens expect us to deliver. After years of economic hardship and often painful reforms, Europeans expect a performing economy, sustainable jobs, more social protection, safer borders, energy security and digital opportunities. Today I am presenting the team that will put Europe back on the path to jobs and growth.

“In the new European Commission, form follows function. We have to be open to change. We have to show that the Commission can change. What I present to you today is a political, dynamic and effective European Commission, geared to give Europe its new start. I have given portfolios to people – not to countries. I am putting 27 players in the field, each of whom has a specific role to play – this is my winning team.”

In a mission letter to Vella, Junker said he would like to focus on the following:

  • “continuing to overhaul the existing environmental legislative framework to make it fit for purpose. In the first part of the mandate, I would ask you to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the Birds and Habitats directives and assess the potential for merging them into a more modern piece of legislation.
  • “taking stock of where we stand in the negotiations on the air strategy. We need to know whether our approach addresses the right sources of air pollution with the right instruments. In the light of your assessment, we can then see how best to conduct the negotiations.
  • “assessing the state of play of the Circular Economy package in the light of the first reactions of the European Parliament and Council to see whether and how it is consistent with our jobs and growth agenda and our broader environmental objectives.
  • “implementing the recently agreed reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to put the EU firmly on the path of a sustainable fishing sector and fishing communities.
  • “engaging in shaping international ocean governance in the UN, in other multilateral fora and bilaterally with key global partners.”

For the full mission letter CLICK HERE

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