EU vows to tackle cli­mate change

New lead­ers hope to see progress

Boston Herald - - Biz Smart -

BRUSSELS — A new team of lead­ers took of­fice at the helm of the Euro­pean Union on Sun­day, pledg­ing to put the fight against cli­mate change at the top of their agenda and foster Euro­pean unity de­spite the likely de­par­ture of Bri­tain from the 28-nation bloc.

Ger­many’s Ur­sula von der Leyen re­placed Jean-Claude Juncker as pres­i­dent of the EU’s pow­er­ful ex­ec­u­tive arm, which po­lices EU laws and ne­go­ti­ates trade on be­half of mem­ber coun­tries. The former Ger­man de­fense min­is­ter be­comes the first woman in the post.

Former Bel­gian pre­mier Charles Michel suc­ceeded Donald Tusk as pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, mean­ing he will chair sum­mits of na­tional lead­ers and drive their com­mon agenda for­ward.

In the com­pany of Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent David Sas­soli and new Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank Pres­i­dent Chris­tine La­garde, Von der Leyen and Michel marked the start of their five-year terms in Brussels with events mark­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of the Lis­bon Treaty, the EU’s rule book.

“Today we can present a uni­fied face to the rest of the world. With more weight and greater co­her­ence in a rules-based world,” Michel said. “Today we do more than look back, we cel­e­brate a new be­gin­ning, with great en­thu­si­asm and hope.”

Sas­soli urged the EU’s new team to de­liver on the hopes in­vested in them by the more than 500 mil­lion peo­ple who make up the world’s big­gest trad­ing bloc. “We need to turn the prom­ises of the past few months into results that im­prove peo­ple’s lives,” he said. “From the fight against cli­mate change to tack­ling the rise in the cost of liv­ing, Euro­peans want to see real ac­tion.”

Von der Leyen heads to Madrid today for the in­ter­na­tional cli­mate con­fer­ence.

“The Euro­pean Union wants to be the first cli­mate neu­tral con­ti­nent in 2050. Europe is lead­ing in this topic and we know that we have to be am­bi­tious for our planet,” she told re­porters.

The fu­ture of Bri­tain’s place in the EU should be­come clearer af­ter the Dec. 12 elec­tion there.

Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son hopes to se­cure a ma­jor­ity to push through the Brexit di­vorce deal sealed with the EU in Oc­to­ber. Un­der the terms of that deal, the U.K. would leave the EU on Jan. 31 but re­main part of Europe’s sin­gle mar­ket and bound by EU rules, un­til the end of 2020.

GETTY IMAGES PHOTOS

LEAD­ING THE WAY: Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ur­sula von der Leyen speaks at the House of Euro­pean His­tory in Brussels to cel­e­brate the 10th an­niver­sary of the Lis­bon Treaty, lay­ing out the ground­work for the Euro­pean Union, on Sun­day. She said she wants Europe to lead the world in ad­dress­ing cli­mate change.

NEW CAST OF CHAR­AC­TERS: From left, newly ap­pointed Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Charles Michel, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ur­sula von der Leyen, Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent David Sas­soli and Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank Chris­tine La­garde ar­rive at for the Lis­bon Treaty cer­e­mony in Brussels Sun­day.

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