The current geopolitical context is pushing the Weimar Triangle of France, Germany and Poland to prioritise defence and security. On the occasion of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 22 April, NGOs, think tanks, and businesses argue that a ‘Green Weimar Triangle’ could safeguard achieving the EU climate goals and address critical economic competitiveness and cohesion issues. 

Sylwia Andralojc-Bodych is Senior Advisor, EU Climate Policy and Polish-German Cooperation and Marion Guénard is Senior Advisor,EU Climate Policy and Franco-German Cooperation, both at Germanwatch.

The Weimar Triangle´s declared ambition is to foster collaboration on cross-border and EU-wide challenges and to strengthen European cohesion. In this format, the co-operation of Poland, France, and Germany has recently gained renewed momentum with a more progressive government in Poland, a new French Foreign Minister who auspiciously added ‘European Affairs’ to his title, and a German Federal Government that enshrined trilateral cooperation in its coalition treaty.

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In their latest joint declaration from 12 February, the three governments primarily emphasize defence. However, the Triangle has overlooked equally burning issues such as the implementation of the EU´s signature project, the European Green Deal (EGD). 

The Power Trio

Germany, France, and Poland collectively represent 40% of the EU population and are responsible for 47% of EU´s greenhouse gas emissions. Their energy policies and vision of transition often collide: Poland is heavily dependent on coal, France continues to prioritize nuclear energy, and Germany has suddenly transitioned away from formerly dominant cheap Russian gas.

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It is high time for the three countries to recognise their potential to bring about a more ambitious and equitable EU climate agenda by extending climate co-operation beyond matters of energy security. 

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Time for a Green Weimar Triangle

A recent survey conducted by the Jacques Delors Center shows strong democratic support for climate action in all Weimar Triangle countries. A majority of voters in Gemany, France, and Poland wish for ambitious climate action, with stronger green industrial and investment policies and a focus on a socially just transition. 

The three countries could pool their resources to advance on these issues and thereby significantly contribute to achieving the EU´s climate goals.

The time is right for a new, significantly closer climate cooperation. The Weimar Triangle needs a second ‘green’ leg to stand firmly. In an open letter released today by various environmental organisations, think tanks, scientific institutions and businesses from the three countries are calling for the establishment of a ‘Green Weimar Triangle’ that ensures continued  exchange and co-operation on climate and energy issues. 

The authors urge their governments to ensure that the EU’s energy transition will continue to advance and eliminate the EU´s dependency on fossil fuel as soon as possible.

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Priorities for the Green Weimar Triangle ahead of the Polish EU-Presidency

In addition to energy co-operation, the Weimar Triangle could signal European unity towards climate action by prioritising additional co-operation on industrial decarbonisation, climate investments, and a fair and socially just transition.

Germany, France, and Poland hold a pivotal position in shaping the EU´s industrial landscape, being collectively responsible for 43% of the EU’s industrial production. They should support an Industrial Decarbonisation Deal with dedicated joint investments and lead the way on green public procurement for net-zero products and infrastructure. 

Germany and France have already implemented measures to support the net zero transition of industries, such as Carbon Contracts for Difference and subsidies that favour electric car manufacturers in the EU.

The Polish perspective is essential to represent  the needs of Member States with less state aid for industries and their interest in additional funding, such as through the European Sovereignty Fund. Together, the members of the Weimar Triangle could drive industrial decarbonisation at EU level with benefits for the single market at large, thus decreasing the risks of a war of subsidies.

An important step will be to close the European climate investment gap. The French think tank I4CE recently estimated the lack of investments until 2030 at €406 billion annually

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The Weimar Triangle should push the EU to respond to climate investment needs through greater EU budget spending efficiency, better climate spending earmarking rules, and new  funding sources – for example in the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

Accelerating climate action also requires to further develop measures for social protection and cohesion, ensuring a socially just transition along with long-term social acceptance. As EU Countries prepare to implement a new Emissions Trading System for road transport and buildings (ETS-2), proactivity will be crucial to support decarbonisation among vulnerable households.

While the EU’s Social Climate Fund (SCF) is a step in the right direction, the Weimar Triangle needs to advocate for its immediate enhancement, flanked by comprehensive legislation to support household-level transition to decarbonised heating and mobility. 

Germany, France, and Poland, should lead by example with access to up to 37% of SCF funds and ensure substantial co-funding and designing Social Climate Plans that address vulnerabilities in transport and building sectors effectively.

Poland, as an influential voice in Central and Eastern Europe, together with Germany and France, as two powerful drivers of EU policymaking, should join forces to advance fair and socially just climate action.

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With the new EU institutional cycle and the Polish EU Presidency drawing closer, the time is more than ripe for a Green Weimar Triangle.

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