In a non-legislative resolution voted by the Plenary on September 16th, the members of the European Parliament urge the European Commission to become a true leader in the EU’s path towards climate protection, energy independence and resource efficiency. The MEPs also called on the Commission not to use the REFIT legislation and administrative simplification initiative as pretext for “deregulating or lowering social and environmental standards”.
Commenting after the vote Greens/EFA vice-president Bas Eickhout said:
"MEPs have today again issued a rebuke to the drive by EU Commission vice-president Timmermans to cut back EU laws at the expense of sustainable development and social justice. A majority in the European Parliament has made clear that the REFIT 'better regulation' programme cannot be a euphemism for lowering social and environmental standards in the EU”.
The Juncker Commission’s “regulatory fitness” agenda has attracted a barrage of criticism, primarily by environmental groups such as WWF, as it also targets the backbone of EU nature conservation legislation, ie the Habitats and Birds directives. According to WWF, EEB and Bidlife, the Commission’s 2013 Communication on the REFIT Initiative “presents the environment, at worst, as an obstacle to growth and, at best, as something to be exploited for short-term economic advantage.” In the context of a campaign titled “Nature Alert”, the environmental organisations WWF, Birdlife, EEB and Friends of the Earth joined their voice with 520,325 people who urged the Commission to safeguard the existing EU nature laws.