EnvironmentEurope

Franz Fischler ‘surprise’ choice as greenest European commissioner

Agriculture chief Franz Fischler has emerged with flying colours as the surprise choice of NGOs as the ‘greenest' member of the European Commission.

Austrian Franz Fischler shares the accolade of “greenese commissioner” with Commissioner Margot Wallström in a review of the executive's policies by the ‘Green-8' group, which includes Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Fischler's bold drive to streamline the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and his bid to address the problems of over-fishing earned five ‘smileys' from the NGOs in their mid-term assessment of the Prodi Commission.

”Commissioner Fischler was a surprise,” said Greenpeace policy advisor Jorgo Iwasaki-Riss. ”He's not directly responsible for the environment but his courageous recent initiatives on CAP and fishing were commendable.”

Iwasaki-Riss commended Wallström's efforts in pushing for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on , despite the absence of support from the United States. However, the Swede was chided over her record on material and waste management.

The Green-8's wooden spoon went to Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, who props up the green league with six ‘frownies'. Just above her are Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, with three frownies, and Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin on two.

“De Palacio is the Commission's environmental bad guy,” Iwasaki-Riss lamented. “She's actively trying to block and dilute environmental policy, not only in her own area, but in a wider context.”

The review's authors have a long list of gripes with the Commission vice-president, including her active promotion of nuclear power despite the Commission's official neutral stance, and her support for “unsustainable” transport development in Central Europe. “She's clearly a talented political player, but she's on the wrong side,” the Greenpeace man said.

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Prodi's Commission as a whole, three years into its term, earned a general thumbs-up from the Green-8. But Iwasaki-Riss said it sometimes lacked the political will to see its potential through on a range of crucial environmental issues. The campaigner urged the executive to put its full weight behind its landmark proposals for the CAP and the chemical .

The Commission broadly welcomed the NGOs' report as complementary to its own internal review of environment policies. “The mid-term review of eight environmental NGOs is part of the Commission's permanent dialogue with civil ,” it said in a statement.

The executive, however, disagreed with some of the report's findings. It insisted that it was taking a leading role in promoting global sustainable development, had taken concrete steps to tackle waste management and was working to decouple the link between economic growth and transport consumption.

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This article first appeared in the 25-31 July 2002 edition of The European Voice.

Author

  • Khaled Diab

    Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual . Khaled Diab is the author of two books: Islam for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil society. Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled's life has been divided between the and Europe. He grew up in and the , and has lived in , on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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Khaled Diab

Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual media. Khaled Diab is the author of two books: Islam for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil society. Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled’s life has been divided between the Middle East and Europe. He grew up in Egypt and the UK, and has lived in Belgium, on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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