EU Taxonomy climate criteria facing delays and hurdles in both Council and Parliament

Longer scrutiny period expected by member states, while Parliament committee vote is scheduled for next week after several objections were raised

EU member states are expected to get an extra two months to scrutinise the Delegated Act that sets out the criteria and thresholds for what will count as climate-aligned in the EU Taxonomy, RI understands. 

The extension is set to be confirmed and finalised next week but has already been agreed on a technical level, sources told RI. It will give member states until December 8 rather than October 8 to decide whether they will veto the delegated act. 

The new rules are set to apply from January 1, 2022, leaving little time between the end of the scrutiny period by the EU Council of Ministers and the rules on climate change mitigation and adaptation actually kicking in.

A simple majority of member states is needed to express an interest in extending the scrutiny period for it to go ahead. According to a Council document, “the required majority for the extension of the objection period was reached”. 

The climate rules have also faced hurdles in the European Parliament, for which the scrutiny period of the Delegated Act also ends in early October unless an extension is requested. RI understands that three different objections – the nature of which could not be confirmed – have been raised by Members of the European Parliament. A related vote has been scheduled jointly for September 27 by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

The objections and delays show that challenges remain around the EU Taxonomy climate rules, despite the European Commission leaving out controversial energy topics such as gas and nuclear in the Delegated Act – originally published in April – and proposing to revisit them in separate acts.

In July, the Commission confirmed that it would seek to include gas in the Taxonomy and would “adopt a complementary Climate Taxonomy Delegated Act covering activities not yet covered in the first EU Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act”. It said the complementary Delegated Act would be adopted “as soon as possible” after the summer. 

A source following the Taxonomy process told RI that some member states likely want more clarity on the separate act on nuclear and gas before making a decision on the already published climate rules for other less controversial business activities. 

The news of member states asking for more time to make a decision on the rules comes just days after Alexis Dutertre, the French ambassador to the Czech Republic, tweeted: “Gearing up for French and Czech presidencies in 2022: like-minded on nuclear energy & gas to be included in the upcoming delegated act on taxonomy”.