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Dutch MEP Esther de Lange claims Rutte snubbed her Climate Commissioner bid

8 months ago 41

Esther De Lange (CDA/EPP), a centre-right MEP with experience on the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, claims she was snubbed in the nomination process for EU climate commissioner, which saw Rutte pick Wopke Hoekstra to replace Frans Timmermans.

In July, Timmermans announced he would be leaving Brussels to vie for the position of Dutch prime minister during the upcoming national elections, leaving the Dutch spot for climate commissioner vacant.

While De Lange was seen as a promising candidate for the spot, Rutte instead opted to propose then-foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) for the position.

“I sent a text message to our prime minister and said I was willing to take up this post for a year,” De Lange told Dutch radio station BNR Nieuwsradio, stating that “he initially reacted very enthusiastically but then didn’t get back to me”.

“It was pretty soon clear that this was going to be an appointment from a very small circle in The Hague,” she added.

At the time, the announcement of Hoekstra was almost universally criticised by MEPs and environmentalists given his lack of climate credentials and previous inflammatory statements towards southern EU member states, stemming from when he was finance minister, with Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld accusing Rutte of using the EU as a “medium of exchange” for national politics.

Hoekstra even caught flak from within his own party, with several CDA members criticising the clandestineness surrounding his bid.

Despite being snubbed for the position, De Lange nonetheless affirmed that she sees Hoekstra as the right choice for the job, which he finally assumed last month following a tense grilling by the Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI).

“There is an important meeting coming up in [Dubai] on climate, which is the focus right now. As a former foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra naturally has very good credentials there,” the MEP stated regarding the upcoming COP28 conference in the United Arab Emirates, adding that the existing expertise within the EU Commission could aid Hoekstra where necessary.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Dutch branch of the pan-European Volt party, Laurens Dassen, also condemned how Hoekstra was appointed.

“It is appalling how this went down. Hoekstra’s election as EU commissioner shows why we need to make Europe more democratic,” he told BNR Nieuwsradio, sneering that “converts are the most fanatical” in reference to Hoekstra’s performance during his grilling last month.

(Benedikt Stöckl |

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