The European Commission’s executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, has announced a bid to lead a Labour-Green ticket in the upcoming general election in the Netherlands — leaving a potential vacuum for future climate and hydrogen policy.
The Netherlands is due to hold a snap general election on 22 November, following a collapse in incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte’s coalition over immigration policy.
The Dutch Labour Party (PVDA) and GroenLinks, which have agreed a joint run, currently only have nine and eight seats out of 150 in the lower house of parliament, respectively, and a combined 14 out of 75 in the upper chamber, the Senate.
But they are currently neck-and-neck in opinion polls with Rutte’s VVD (although the prime minister has confirmed he will not lead the party into this election) and the right-wing populist Farmer-Citizen Movement.
With support from both current leaders of the PVDA and GroenLinks, Timmermans could well be on his way to becoming prime minister of the Netherlands, although his candidacy will still need to be accepted by the party membership. The leadership is expected to be announced on 22 August.
Should Timmermans be selected, he will be required to step down from his current position driving European climate and hydrogen policy, potentially leaving a power vacuum for a new green czar ahead of COP28.
However, any replacement would only be guaranteed to be in place until the end of the current European Commission’s term of office, on 31 October 2024. And much of Timmermans’ activities on renewables and hydrogen could be taken on by energy commissioner Kadri Simson.
H2 only makes up part of the European Green Deal’s remit, which covers RepowerEU and the Green Deal Industrial Plan, which includes the proposed Net Zero Industry Act setting a 40% made-in-Europe target for 100GW of electrolysers by 2030.
Timmermans has also been a key touchstone for the European Hydrogen Bank, having unveiled a €3bn budget for its subsidies for green hydrogen production in October last year. The first auction is due to be held in December this year.
“Reconciling the climate goals with industrial policy is Frans Timmermans’ big and ongoing achievement,” Hydrogen Europe CEO Jorgo Chatzimarkakis tells Hydrogen Insight. “Major investments into cleantech would not be possible without him. His paramount role is historic!”