Labour MEPs break ranks to defeat socialist resolution against EU funding of gas

MEPs rejected motion from socialists, Greens and Left to oppose gas and nuclear energy being included in EU list of  environmentally sustainable economic activities

A floating LNG tanker used to transport gas to the Delimara power station
A floating LNG tanker used to transport gas to the Delimara power station

MEPs have rejected a motion by a cross-party group to oppose the inclusion of nuclear and gas as environmentally sustainable economic activities.

A joint meeting of two European Parliament committees had voted against the European Commission’s inclusion to define nuclear and gas as ‘environmentally sustainable’ economic activities.

The Commission’s Taxonomy Delegated Act included specific nuclear and gas energy activities, under certain conditions, in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities covered by the so-called EU Taxonomy.

The EC sees a role for gas and nuclear activities in the green transition, which is why it classified them as transitional activities contributing to climate change mitigation. But their inclusion is time-limited and dependent on specific conditions and transparency requirements.

The inclusion of gas and nuclear has been widely seen as a compromise pushed through by an alliance of French pro-nuclear forces and mainly eastern European countries wanting to incentivise EU investments in gas infrastructure.

MEPs from two committees – economic, and environment – adopted the objection to the Commission’s use of a “delegated act”, a non-legislative procedure that excluded the European Parliament. “The parliament has been sidelined. The process is at best sloppy, if not undemocratic,” ECON chair Paul Tang (S&D) had said. Green MEP Bas Eickhout insisted that the inclusion of gas and nuclear “violated the spirit and letter of the [taxonomy]”.

Yesterday, 278 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, but 328 voted against and 33 abstained. An absolute majority of 353 MEPs was needed for Parliament to veto the Commission’s proposal. If neither Parliament, nor Council object to the proposal by 11 July 2022, the Taxonomy Delegated Act will enter into force and apply as of 1 January 2023.

Malta’s three Labour MEPs Alex Agius Saliba, Josianne Cutajar, and Alfred Sant voted against – a minority among the S&D group – and were backed by the EPP, liberals Renew, and the right-wing ECR; Cyrus Engerer did not register a vote on this resolution despite having voted on other resolutions and laws during the day. Nationalist MEP David Casa abstained.

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