Poland’s European commissioner-designate for the single market, Elzbieta Bienkowska got the green light from MEPs in Brussels, Wednesday, even after she criticised EU carbon emission targets.
While being questioned by members of the European Parliament during a vetting session of new commissioners, Bienkowska, who was infrastructure minister in the Polish government, said that though targets on carbon emissions must be met, the EU cannot dictate energy mix to individual member states.
The Polish government has fought some climate change legislation, saying that it risks choking off economic growth in a nation heavily reliant on coal for its energy needs, and Bienkowska told left wing and green MEPs that EU targets to reduce carbon emissions are “sometimes exaggerated,” the EUobserver reports her as saying.
“I will reflect on measures to support clean technologies. In 2015 I will propose a full roadmap with all actions to support industry competitiveness at the heart of Europe 2020 and the European semester,” she said.
“Coal has the right to stay [in the energy mix] provided that the member state sticks to the rules,” Bienkowska told MEPs.
The 50 year-old from Katowice in south west Poland, who is a member of the centre-right Civic Platform party, told MEPs that she was a single mother on benefits before climbing to the top in Polish politics.
She said that MEPs should not worry that she would come under pressure from sectional interests in her role as commissioner for single markets.
“All my professional experience shows that I am lobbyist-proof. I am absolutely lobbyist-proof,” she told MEPs.
Displaying her reputation in Poland for toughness, Bienkowska resisted attempts by chairman of the session in the European Parliament, her fellow Pole Jerzy Buzek, who heads the energy, industry and research committee, to finish her speech after running over time.
She rounded on one MEP after being accused of being a “career bureaucrat”.
“Maybe there is a misconception. I was elected as a senator in Poland. I hope you will get to know me more, then you would know that in no way I am a bureaucrat,” the commissioner-designate said.
Bienkowska will be responsible for the development of the EU’s internal market, to promote industrial competitiveness through investment and innovation and supporting small and medium-sized businesses.
“Let’s get Europe back to work,” Poland’s new commissioner said at the end of her speech. (pg)
Picture: Elzbieta Bienkowska, of Poland, EU Commissioner-designate in charge of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, arrives for her hearing in front of a European Parliament commission, in Brussels, Belgium, 02 October: photo – EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET