Home Brussels Right-wing MEPs loathe the Green Deal — but have no plan of attack

Right-wing MEPs loathe the Green Deal — but have no plan of attack

by editor

BRUSSELS — Lawmakers on the EU’s right flank can easily agree: They all hate the Green Deal.

It’s how to channel that hatred that is proving hard. 

Even as green skeptics are set to arrive in the European Parliament in record numbers, there’s no discernible plan in place to turn their ire into legislative action, according to interviews with half a dozen MEPs from the right-wing European Conservatives & Reformists (ECR) and far-right Identity & Democracy (ID) groups.

The surging factions have yet to decide on which parts of the Green Deal they want to target, how they would do it, or whether they’d even be able to work together on it.

New far-right Belgian MEP Barbara Bonte told POLITICO her goal is to “abolish” the Green Deal. 

But pressed on specifics, Bonte, a member of the Flemish separatist Vlaams Belang party (ID), simply said she would “vote against all sorts of measures” and “listen to the people.”

Even if there were a concrete plan, the right would face significant hurdles. Much of the Green Deal is already set in stone, meaning its opponents will have to find creative ways to revise any existing measures. Lawmakers in ECR and ID also frequently don’t get along — some want to be in the mainstream political tent, while others historically toss bombs from the outside.  

“Extremely confrontational” is how MEP Pietro Fiocchi, from the Brothers of Italy party (ECR), described his colleagues farther to the right. 

“You need to be pragmatic and build a majority if you want results,” he added. “If you scream you don’t get anything done in the European Parliament.” 

Environmental beef

Green bashing was a popular — and dramatic — feature of the right’s campaign rhetoric. 

Hopeful candidates clambered to get selfies with protesting farmers on the Green Deal warpath, moaned incorrectly that Brussels is trying to force the bloc to eat worms, and, during a speech to Parliament, triumphantly crumpled up a sheet of paper with “Green Deal” printed on it.

Now they’re bringing that energy to Parliament, where the right will hold unprecedented sway within the 720-member body. 

Click on a party to form a majority
Group Seats Change Seats %
European People's Party

25.0 %
Socialists and Democrats

19.7 %

14.5 %

10.0 %
Conservatives and Reformists

9.8 %
Identity and Democracy

7.0 %

5.2 %

8.8 %

Source : European Parliament

Group Seats Change Seats %
European People's Party


26.1 %
Socialists and Democrats


18.9 %
Conservatives and Reformists


11.7 %


10.6 %
Identity and Democracy


7.9 %


7.4 %


6.4 %


11.1 %

Source : European Parliament

Together, the ECR and ID groups won at least 141 seats — roughly two dozen more than at the last election. And they could gain even more members, as a smattering of anti-green policy crusaders have yet to join a political group. 

Their green wariness will find a more receptive ear in Parliament than ever before. The center-right European People’s Party (EPP), Parliament’s largest group, is increasingly doubtful about new environmental rules and regulations. And Europe is awash in a green backlash.

The concerns have been framed around economic competitiveness. European businesses are struggling to keep pace with the U.S. and China, which are both pumping money into manufacturing and have looser environmental regimes. 

“We cannot, as Europe alone, impose so many rules to our own people, that’s punishing them and chasing our companies away because there’s no level playing field anymore,” Assita Kanko, ECR vice-chair and Belgian MEP for the nationalist Flemish party Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie told POLITICO.

Fiocchi and Bonte both echoed those points. It was also the thrust of a symbolic motion ID MEPs filed in February to abolish the Green Deal altogether.

But the Green Deal is not going away — its core tenets have ample support. And proponents say the green transition is actually the ideal way to make Europe competitive in tomorrow’s economy, which is linked to the race for climate-friendly technology.

Choreographing a response

Undoing or rolling back such policies will be easier said than done — and will be even trickier if the right doesn’t cooperate.

Both the ECR and ID groups are still in flux and feel uncertain about each other as dance partners. While some ECR members have teased a collaboration with ID, others are balking at the idea. Broadly, ECR is more interested in trying to woo the EPP into an alliance, which requires putting some distance between itself and ID.

ID MEPs are aware they don’t have an ideal ally in the ECR group. 

Asked if ID would be willing to work with the ECR to reach its goals, French MEP Mathilde Androuët, a member of the far-right National Rally, said, “yes, I think so, but on some topics, I don’t think they will all follow us.”

She added: “On some files, there will be negotiations and it can be tense.”

Then there’s another wild card: Viktor Orbán. The Hungarian leader is pitching a new far-right “Patriots of Europe” alliance, which could lure in big names from ECR and other groups, further complicating any grand plan.

Given all the moving parts, French MEP Virginie Joron, another National Rally member, conceded that ID isn’t focusing on a broader “strategy” for now. She’s also banking on the French legislative elections, which are expected to deliver major gains to the far right, forcing more people to work with her cohorts.

Even without a concrete plan, some green policies already have a target on their back.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy — highlighted by Joron — which sets out numerous green incentives for farmers, has to be reformed in 2027. There will also be a chance in 2026 to review the EU’s 2035 ban on traditional car sales — and momentum is building to revise the measure. The right also has its eye on the “farm-to-fork” strategy, the EU’s plan to make food production systems more sustainable. 

Then there are the green policies still to be published or up for a revision in the coming years. That includes rules on chemical safety, carbon pricing, plans to cut industrial emissions and single-use plastics restrictions.

Czech MEP Ivan David, who sits with the ID group, said “a substantial part of the Green Deal projects would have to be canceled” if the EU wants a functioning agricultural sector. 

But, like some of his counterparts, he didn’t expand on which policies would — or could — be targeted.

Nicolas Camut contributed reporting from Paris.

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