The European Parliament tonight voted to approve Miguel
Arias Cañete as the new EU Commissioner for Climate and Energy in what Friends
of the Earth Europe has described as a victory for polluting industry and
Members of the Parliament's environment and industry
committees voted to approve Mr Cañete's appointment as the EU's top
civil servant for climate change in a secret ballot.
MEPs voted against another Commissioner-designate – Alenka
Bratušek – who was named as Commissioner and Vice-President for Energy
deal has allegedly been struck to now include sustainability, climate action
and energy in the portfolio of the most senior Commission Vice President,
Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth
"Friends of the Earth Europe is disappointed that
the Parliament has supported the candidacy of Mr Cañete, who we believe
continues to have conflicts of interest. People will be watching his actions
closely and he will have to prove he is acting independently, and working for
the benefit of the climate, not polluters.
"Friends of the Earth welcomes the apparent
recognition of the need to include sustainability, climate and energy at the
most senior levels of Commission decision making. Commissioner Timmermans will
need to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of all EU decisions, and
most importantly guides our climate and energy policy."
Mr Cañete has a long
history of alleged conflicts of interest as a politician in Spain and as a
member of the European Parliament. He
held shares in oil companies which he has recently sold, but his family
continues to be involved in the oil industry and this continues to
represent a conflict of interest according to Friends of the Earth Europe.
His role as an administrator of one of the official
representatives of the Spanish subsidiary of a Panama-based company Angelmo
Operational Corp also remains a concern, given the fact that Panama was on the
Spanish list of recognised tax havens between 1991 and 2013. 
More than half
a million European citizens have signed a petition against Mr Cañete's
appointment as the EU's top civil servant for climate change.
The grave concerns about Mr Cañete are part of a
bigger picture of serious doubts about the whole direction of the new European
Commission as proposed by the President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker. The Green 10
coalition of leading environment groups has called for the whole Commission to be
it is restructured to prioritise the interest of citizens and our environment
over business interests.
Canete held a stake in two oil companies, Petrolifera Ducar and Petrologis
Canarias, until September 2014. He acted as chairman of the two oil companies
from 2005 to 2011. His brother-in-law and family continue to control both oil