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Miguel Arias Cañete


Miguel Arias Cañete
Informal meeting of environment ministers. Handshake Siim Kiisler and Miguel Arias Cañete (35781644631) (cropped).jpg
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy
Assumed office
1 November 2014
PresidentJean-Claude Juncker
Preceded byConnie Hedegaard (Climate Action)
Günther Oettinger (Energy)
Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment
In office
22 December 2011 – 28 April 2014
Prime MinisterMariano Rajoy
Preceded byRosa Aguilar
Succeeded byIsabel Garcia Tejerina
Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food
In office
Appil 2000 – April 2004
Member of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 2014 – 31 October 2014
ConstituencySpain
In office
1 January 1986 – 19 July 1999
ConstituencySpain
Personal details
Born (1950-02-24) 24 February 1950 (age 69)
Madrid, Spain
Political partyPeople's Party
People's Alliance
Spouse(s)Micaela Domecq y Solís-
Beaumont
Children4
Alma materComplutense University

Miguel Arias Cañete (born 24 February 1950) is a Spanish politician. He has been EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action in the Juncker Commission since November 2014.

A member of the People's Party, Arias served as Minister for Agriculture, Food and Environment in the Government of Spain from 2011 until 2014, before being selected to head his Party List in the European Parliamentary elections.[1]

Early life and education

Arias Cañete was born to Judge don Alfonso Arias de la Cuesta,[2] and educated in Madrid, first at the Jesuit School at Chamartín before reading Law at the Universidad Complutense.[citation needed]

Career

After graduating in 1974, he joined the Spanish Civil Service joining the State Lawyers Corps. His first position was in the Spanish Tax Agency at Jerez de la Frontera, before transferring to the Cadiz office.[citation needed] In 1978 he resigned as a civil servant to become a Professor of Law at the University of Cádiz, where he remained until 1982.[citation needed]

Arias entered politics with People's Alliance (AP) in 1982,[3] serving as a member of the Parliament of Andalusia from 1982 until 1986 representing Cádiz.[4] Arias Cañete joined the AP's national executive board during the presidency of Antonio Hernández Mancha.[5] Once Spain joined the European Economic Community on 1 January 1986, he became a member of the European Parliament as delegate appointed by the Cortes Generales, and later, when the first election to the European Parliament took place in Spain in 1987, he was elected MEP.[6] He served until 1999, chairing the Agricultural and Regional Politics Committees. From 1993 until 2000 he served the Spanish Senate, then was appointed as Minister of Agriculture and Fishing by José María Aznar.

Arias Cañete unsuccessfully bid for the Mayorship of Jerez de la Frontera vis-à-vis the 1995 and 1999 local elections, serving as municipal councillor in the opposition from 1995 to 2000.[7][4] He was then elected Senator representing Cádiz in the Spanish Senate (2000-2004), and from 2004 to 2008 Deputy for Cadiz in the Spanish Congress. During the same period, from 2004-2008 he ascended inside the Partido Popular to "Economic Secretary" and president of its Electoral Committee. In 2008, he was elected Representative for Madrid in the Spanish Congress and Member of the European Parliament for Electoral District Madrid, which he represented until 2014.[8]

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, 2011–2014

In 2011 Mariano Rajoy appointed Arias as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment in the Spanish Government. He had already served as agriculture minister from 200-2004, but the environment was a new brief for him as it was previously dealt with by a separate ministry.

During his time in office, Arias managed to get parliamentary approval of a 2013 law allowing some construction to take place closer to the coast than previously allowed, raising alarm among ecologists and opposition parties, who argued the change could further blight the Mediterranean shoreline.[9]

European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, 2014–present

Arias Cañete addressing the European Parliament during a debate on climate change in March 2019

In 2014, Arias was picked by Rajoy to lead the Partido Popular's list in the 2014 European elections.[10] Following the elections, Spain nominated him for the Juncker Commission in August 2014.[10] By early September, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker assigned Arias to the office of European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, where he became the first single supervisor of those two policy areas.[11] He took office on 1 November 2014.[12] In this capacity, he works under the guidance of Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission Vice President for Energy Union.

He represented the European Union at international climate negotiations starting at the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima,[13] followed by COP21 in Paris for the signature of the Paris Agreement.[14] Following the agreement, much of his mandate was spent updating EU climate and energy policy to bring it in line with meeting the EU's commitments under the agreement.[15] Cañete also oversaw the introduction of a number of new climate policies during his mandate, including the Effort Sharing Regulation covering non-ETS emissions, a number of transport initiatives, and a regulation on greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). The LULUCF regulation marked the first time the commitment on LULUCF was enshrined in EU law (although Member States had undertaken the commitment previously).[16] On climate policy, Arias Cañete has been responsible for the plan to introduce an overhaul of the European Union Emission Trading Scheme, the world's biggest cap-and-trade program.[11]

In summer 2015, Arias Cañete launched a plan to turn the Mediterranean region into "a major gas marketplace" as part of European Union efforts to reduce dependency on dominant oil and gas supplier Russia.[17] Shortly after, he brokered an agreement between France, Spain and Portugal on the MidCat gas pipeline intended to increase exports of Algerian gas into the European energy mix.[18]

In June 2019, Arias Cañete announced his will to put an end to his political career once his mandate as commissioner expired on 1 November 2019, vowing to retire to his home in Jerez de la Frontera and to take care of his grandchildren.[19]

Controversies

Arias has faced accusations of conflicts of interests regarding his business interests and his political posts. While serving as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, he allegedly held interests in several agricultural businesses,[20] leading the Spanish newspaper El País to describe him in 2014 as always being on the edge of a conflict of interest.[21] In 2014, the environmental group Friends of the Earth and anticorruption group Corporate Europe Observatory criticised his nomination to the Climate Action and Energy portfolio due to his family's involvement in the oil industry.[22][23][24]

Furthermore, Arias was called to give evidence before the Provincial Court of Barcelona over a friend's alleged laundering of 2 billion pesetas.[25]

Arias was accused of sexism after Arias and his Socialist rival Elena Valenciano were featured in Spanish television's first live debate between the country’s leading candidates for a European Parliament election in May 2014,[26] Valenciano was widely perceived to have beaten him in the debate. Asked to explain his poor performance in the debate, he pointed to the fact that he was facing a woman: "If you abuse your intellectual superiority, you come across like a macho who is pushing a defenceless woman into a corner".[10][27]

In September 2014, Arias sold two large shareholdings in oil companies Petrolífera Ducar and Petrologis Canarias to appease parliamentarians threatening to reject his confirmation as European Commissioner because of conflicts of interest.[27] Also, his son resigned from their boards.[28] As of October 2014 more than half a million people signed an Avaaz petition calling for Aria's rejection.[29]

The Panama papers in 2016 revealed that his wife's world-renowned Jandilla [es] bull operations, managed by their two sons, Pablo and Juan Pedro, and co-owned by her siblings, received well over $1 million in farm subsidies and her other farm, forestry and winery businesses also received EU subsidies.[30]

Panamanian Rinconada Investments Group SA was an offshore investment company registered in 2005, listed as inactive in January 2010, which Deutsche Bank Geneva, Swiss-based financial services company Gestrust SA and Mossack Fonseca helped to create. Arias' wife and the Domecq family are politically exposed persons and were empowered to approve transactions.[30]

Personal life

Arias, from a Spanish gentry family, is married to Micaela Domecq y Solís-Beaumont[31] by whom he has four children. His wife's aristocratic family[32] has long been established in the Jerez de la Frontera region of Andalusia, where they own large farming and livestock estates including the breeding of fighting bulls[33] and have given their name to a world-famous brand of fortified wines.[34]

Recognition

References

  1. ^ Cué, Francesco Manetto, Carlos E. (9 April 2014). "Cañete será el cabeza de lista del PP".
  2. ^ "BOE.es - Índice por departamentos del día 24/06/1985". www.boe.es.
  3. ^ "El ministro que predijo Francia". El País. 21 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Cañete será el candidato del PP a las elecciones europeas". Levante-EMV. 9 April 2014.
  5. ^ Romero, María (21 December 2011). "Cañete, la voz de la experiencia". Cadena Ser.
  6. ^ "Arias Cañete, gran conocedor de las instituciones europeas". ABC. 13 May 2016.
  7. ^ Caraballo, Javier (18 August 2013). "Arias Cañete, el domador de desiertos". El Confidencial.
  8. ^ Biography Spanish Congress site
  9. ^ Inmaculada Sanz and Raquel Castillo Lopez (May 9, 2013), Spain coastal law revamp sparks fears of new construction wave Reuters.
  10. ^ a b c Nicholas Hirst (1 August 2014), Cañete nominated as Spain’s commissioner European Voice.
  11. ^ a b Ewa Krukowska (September 10, 2014), Spain’s Canete to Get EU Merged Climate-Energy Chief Role Bloomberg Business.
  12. ^ (2 October 2014) Cañete’s hearing spells trouble for Juncker Euractiv Network
  13. ^ Nicholas Hirst (19 February 2015), Miguel Arias Cañete: colourful negotiator European Voice.
  14. ^ "Historic climate deal in Paris: EU leads global efforts". European Commission. 12 December 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  15. ^ Crisp, James (30 November 2016). "Commission defends new energy rules and climate ambition". Euractiv. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Land use and forestry regulation for 2021-2030". European Commission. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  17. ^ Barbara Lewis and Oleg Vukmanovic (June 11, 2015), EU energy boss seeks to make Mediterranean 'major gas marketplace' Reuters.
  18. ^ Christian Oliver and Tobias Buck (June 23, 2015), France, Spain and Portugal look to unlock Algeria gas exports Financial Times.
  19. ^ "Arias Cañete deja la política el 1 de noviembre". El Periódico. 29 June 2019.
  20. ^ (in Spanish) "Arias Cañete: “Ni mi familia ni yo tenemos relación con esas empresas." El País. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  21. ^ [1] El País. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Cañete's conflicts of interests continue to concern". Friends of the Earth Europe.
  23. ^ "The many business dealings of Commissioner-designate Miguel Arias Cañete".
  24. ^ "Spanish EU climate commissioner grilled over oil interests." El País. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  25. ^ Francisco Medina (13 May 2014) Cañete dio dinero a un testigo en un caso de blanqueo..., para intentar que no saliese a la luz www.elplural.com, retrieved 5 April 2016
  26. ^ Tobias Buck (16 May 2014), Old-school machismo inspires interest in modern Spanish politics Financial Times.
  27. ^ a b Christian Oliver and Tobias Buck (September 16, 2014), European energy nominee sells oil holdings to appease MEPs Financial Times.
  28. ^ Barbara Lewis and Alastair Macdonald (October 1, 2014), New EU executive runs into trouble in parliament Reuters.
  29. ^ Arthur Neslen (9 October 2014), Former oil mogul confirmed as EU climate and energy commissioner The Guardian.
  30. ^ a b "Power Players:Miguel Arias Cañete". projects.icij.org. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 3 April 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  31. ^ "Web nobleza espanola". Archived from the original on 2014-09-12.
  32. ^ "The Marriage That Astounded Spain—the Duchess of Alba and Her Ex-Priest—is Now a Year Old – Vol. 11 No. 13". 2 April 1979.
  33. ^ Juan Pedro Domecq Solis obit. www.telegraph.co.uk
  34. ^ "Portada - Bodegas Álvaro Domecq". Bodegas Álvaro Domecq.
  35. ^ Presidencia del Gobierno: "Real Decreto 735/2004, de 19 de abril, por el que se concede la Gran Cruz de la Real y Distinguida Orden Española de Carlos III a don Miguel Arias Cañete" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (96): 16144. 20 April 2004. ISSN 0212-033X. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  36. ^ Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación: "Real Decreto 1797/2011, de 16 de diciembre, por el que se concede la Gran Cruz de la Orden del Mérito Civil a don Miguel Arias Cañete" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (303): 138574. 17 December 2011. ISSN 0212-033X. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
Political offices
Preceded by
Jesús Posada
Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Food
2000–2004
Succeeded by
Elena Espinosa
Preceded by
Rosa Aguilar
Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Isabel García Tejerina
Preceded by
Joaquín Almunia
Spanish European Commissioner
2014–present
Succeeded by
Josep Borrell
Nominee
Preceded by
Connie Hedegaard
as European Commissioner for Climate Action
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy
2014–present
Succeeded by
TBD
Preceded by
Günther Oettinger
as European Commissioner for Energy