EU Climate Chief hopeful slammed for past work with Shell

Dutch MEPs and climate groups have slammed Wopke Hoekstra  ‐  the Dutch government’s pick to replace former EU climate chief Frans Timmermans ‐ citing his perceived lack of climate credentials.

EU Climate Chief hopeful slammed for past work with Shell

Hoekstra was Dutch finance minister from 2017 to 2022

The Dutch government recently proposed Hoekstra as the successor to former climate chief Frans Timmermans, who left the post last week to vie for the position of prime minister during the upcoming national elections in November.

“Hoekstra’s most important European achievement consists of intensely insulting the Italians during the COVID crisis. In addition, he is not exactly a climate champion. What makes him so suitable as a candidate?” MEP Sophie In ‘t Veld (Volt) posted on X, formerly Twitter.

In ‘t Veld accused outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD/Renew) of using the EU as a “medium of exchange” for national politics, adding that Timmermans’ head of cabinet Diederik Samsom, who used to be a member of Timmermans’ Labour Party (PvdA/S&D) would have made more sense.

“It ultimately comes down to the question […]: there are two currents in Europe right now, one that wants to accelerate to fight pollution and poverty and save the planet, and one that thinks you have to put the brakes on to save things. Which one (does Hoekstra) opt for?” EU lawmaker Mohammed Chahim (PvdA/S&D) told AD.

Hoekstra’s nomination got notable flak from the S&D group in the European Parliament last week, partially stemming from comments he made during his tenure as Dutch finance minister during the pandemic. Back then, Hoekstra had called for investigations into the budgetary difficulties of southern EU member states in light of their struggles to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Outrage from climate NGOs

Hoekstra’s nomination was also criticised by Greenpeace, which highlighted Hoekstra’s past work for the fossil fuel company Shell.

“Say what? Hoekstra to Europe? On climate and nature? A former Shell employee, who gave billions of support to [Dutch airline] KLM without sustainable conditions, who blew up the nitrogen crisis and thereby abandoned nature, should not be given such a crucial post,” Andy Palmen, director of Greenpeace Nederland, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Hoekstra countered the criticism by claiming that he had already gained valuable experience on climate issues through his previous work as finance and foreign minister, adding that it was “one of the great issues of our time”.

Hoekstra will need to pass a hearing in parliament to be inaugurated as Commissioner.

Benedikt Stöckl,

This article first appeared on, an edie content partner

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie