European MEP says lead can thrive in EU after ‘problematic’ Timmermans years

European MEP says lead can thrive in EU after ‘problematic’ Timmermans years

European MEP says lead can thrive in EU after ‘problematic’ Timmermans years 960 816 Batteries International

February 22, 2024: The lead battery industry can breathe a sigh of relief and help energize Europe’s clean energy transition now one of the industry’s bogeymen — former EU Green Deal supremo Frans Timmermans (pictured) — is out of office, a senior MEP has said.

German Christian Democrat European Parliament member Peter Liese, speaking at the launch of EUROBAT’s manifesto in Brussels on February 20, said: “We should not go back to the Timmermans years.”

Liese diplomatically described Timmermans’ time as former European Commission executive vice president in charge of the Green Deal as “problematic”.

“Since Timmermans has left we’ve had a different focus,” he said.

In June 2020, when in charge of the Green Deal, Timmermans issued an implicit warning during a EUROBAT webinar that the future of the lead battery industry was limited.

“We have to assess which technologies have reached a maturity that will not allow more innovation, we shouldn’t be throwing money at those,” he said. “We look at things that have a future rather than things that have had a great past” — implying that the Commission was eager only to advance lithium batteries over lead ones.

“We are more reluctant [to invest] when a technology doesn’t seem to have much potential for development and has a huge negative impact on the environment … we’re technology agnostic but we’re not stupid.”

One industry commentator at the time said: “I was dumbstruck when he said this … phrases like a ‘technology’ ie a battery chemistry with no potential for development but a great past and having a huge negative impact on the environment and the like. There was no doubt he was mentioning lead batteries — what else could he possibly have been talking about?”

Timmermans resigned his post last August to stand as a candidate in the Netherlands’ general election. He was replaced by Maroš Šefčovič.

His apparent animosity to the lead battery sector was a major area of concern for lead battery manufacturers and an issue frequently highlighted by Batteries International.

Timmermans also issued a preposterous soundbite just months after the Russian attack of Ukraine, saying Europe was on the cusp of achieving energy self-sufficiency, if it had not already done so.

However, industry observers point out that even today the EU has a long way to go — as evidenced by EUROBAT’s call this week for the appointment of an EU commissioner with specific responsibility for safeguarding the bloc’s battery materials supply chain.

Meanwhile, Liese used EUROBAT’s manifesto launch to also confirm a Batteries International article, published last November, that a decision on controversial proposals for lead metal to be added to an expanded European chemicals authorization register has been shelved until late this year at the earliest.

Photo: Lukasz Kobus. EC Audiovisual Service