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Good morning. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was forced to confront the limits of his persuasion yesterday as Nato rebuffed his demands for a timeline or defined pathway to alliance membership.
After the FT revealed that Nato would “extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met”, Zelenskyy called it “absurd”. At the parties and think-tank gatherings in Vilnius last night, most analysts agreed with the disappointed Ukraine leader.
But it underscored the excellent point made by my colleague Gideon Rachman of the paradox that the US is both Ukraine’s most important supporter and the biggest drag on its western ambitions.
Away from the Nato summit, today we preview today’s biblical bust-up vote pitting the European Commission president against her political party, and ponder whether the EU’s Mr Green could become the next Dutch leader.
A long-awaited collision between European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s green agenda and her own European People’s party (EPP) comes to a head in Strasbourg today, writes Andy Bounds.
Context: Manfred Weber, head of the centre-right EPP, has vowed to kill the Nature Restoration Law, which aims to rewild large areas of Europe. Weber and the farming lobby say it would compromise food security and put many farmers out of business.
The tractors rolled into Strasbourg yesterday as farmers from 20 countries made their views known. Opposite them stood Greta Thunberg, the climate campaigner, and around 100 activists. They had organised an online campaign with almost 1mn people urging their MEPs to vote for the law.
Meanwhile, grizzled heads were busy counting votes but remained wary of placing bets. “I don’t know what the result will be,” Pascal Canfin, the chair of the environment committee, said. His liberal Renew group is split around 70-30 in favour of the law, said its leader Stéphane Sejourné.
The left are mostly behind the law, along with almost all the Socialists. Mohammed Chahim of the Socialists said it was “close”. The EPP is “95 per cent” against, according to one teller, as are most of the populist right and far right.
MEPs will first vote to reject it. If they don’t, a compromise which copies the position adopted by member states might pass. They previously agreed to leave it up to national governments how to reach certain targets.
This compromise would also enshrine restoring 20 per cent of land and marine habitats — (almost) meeting EU international commitments on biodiversity.
If MEPs completely reject the law, the commission can opt to withdraw it. Climate commissioner Frans Timmermans, who will be in the chamber, says it will not.
There are many constitutional theorists mulling how it might still survive. According to an EPP spokesman, it is already “politically dead”.
Chart du jour: Taking responsibility
Europe and other wealthy countries are responsible for the bulk of historic greenhouse gas emissions. While emerging economies are now the biggest emitters, high-income countries must pay to help them reduce, writes Martin Wolf.
There is nothing like a government collapse to reinvent one’s political career.
The man steering the EU’s Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, yesterday left the door open for a return to Dutch politics after the collapse of prime minister Mark Rutte’s government, writes Alice Hancock.
Context: The Dutch coalition government split at the weekend owing to differences over migration policy, and liberal premier Rutte stepped down. Elections are expected in November.
When asked yesterday if he might be interested in a position in The Hague, Timmermans did not deny that he could be tempted to run.
The Socialist politician said he would wait for the outcome of a vote of his Labour party and the Dutch Greens on whether they wanted to join forces in the forthcoming elections.
“It is up to the members of both parties to express themselves, then everybody will have to make up their minds what happens next,” he said on the sidelines of a ministers’ meeting in Spain.
Timmermans’ party currently holds nine of 150 seats in the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch parliament’s lower house, and current polls predict it will win around 8 per cent of the seats.
But a tie-up with the Greens could improve their chances. Several Dutch officials and Socialist politicians have pointed out that Timmermans would be the obvious candidate to run a joint campaign, given his current mandate as climate commissioner.
René Repasi, a German Socialist MEP who works at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, said Timmermans was the only politician who could both rally disenchanted Labour voters and work with the Greens.
“Dutch politics is very volatile. Timmermans might be a game-changer. He can mobilise people,” Repasi said.
Others, however, are more sceptical, especially given that the Dutch Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB), which has rallied against the EU’s climate agenda, is currently leading the polls.
What to watch today
Second day of Nato summit in Vilnius.
European Economic and Social Committee holds plenary.