In this edition, we look at the EU plan to cut carbon emissions by 2040 and a deal to protect women across Europe.

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This week, we are joined by Heather Grabbe from Bruegel, Silvia Pastorelli from Greenpeace and Tomi Huhtanen from the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies.

Panelists discussed the European Commission’s recommendation, presented this week in Strasbourg, to cut carbon emissions 90% by 2040. A proper legislative proposal will be penned by the next commission, after the European elections.

For Greenpeace, the documents make no sense unless they address one of the main drivers of climate change.

“The big elephant in the room still is the absence of a fossil fuel phase-out date”, said Silvia Pastorelli.  “Until the commission is willing to put pen to paper and say that, there’s not going to be any certainty for people, or for investors and businesses”, she added.

Heather Grabbe told the panel that a target without a real plan was just a “wish”.

“If you have a 2050 target, you then need a 2040 target to show how far you need to get by 2040, in order to reach net zero by 2050,” she said. 

But with a backlash against environmental rules across Europe and some leaders even calling for a pause, the commission has found itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. This week, a number of EU countries including France and Germany wrote to Brussels to say all targets must be fair, and not abandon the most vulnerable. 

Tomi Huhtanen said the major challenge for Europe will be to reach the targets while keeping people and industry happy.

“I would say the commission recommendation is quite ambitious, especially for 2030. We don’t know exactly if we are going to achieve those goals,” said Huhtanen.

The panel also reacted to a deal struck in Strasbourg on a law to protect women in Europe against gender-based violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation and online harassment. But the deal did not manage to find a common European definition of rape.

“The debate, I have to say, was a little bit depressing and frustrating because, looking at what should be something so obvious, that sex without consent is rape, and that should be part of the law”, said Silvia Pastorelli.

Watch “Brussels, my love?” in the player above.

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