Criticism is mounting over the EU’s decision to appoint the Spanish Popular Party’s Miguel Arias Cañete to the position of Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action. Mr Arias Cañete, medicine who served as Minister for Agriculture, case Food and Environment for Spain from 2011 up until this year, generic has been accused of making sexist remarks in regards to debating against women. This had added to existing disapproval over his previous ties to the oil industry, which has been argued to be a conflict of interest.
Earlier this year, following a perceived loss in a televised European election debate, Arias Cañete remarked to Spanish TV that he could not argue with his opponent, Socialist Elena Valenciano, in the manner that he would been able to had she been a man, as he felt that “a debate between a man and a woman is very complicated because if you use your intellectual superiority, it appears you are a male chauvinist cornering a defenceless woman”. He apologized five days later, telling a radio station that “Some are transmitting the wrong image of me; those who know me know perfectly well what I’m like and that I have always valued people equally, women and men”.
However the main criticisms over Arias Cañete’s appointment to the Energy role is his previous ties to the oil industry, which several European parliamentary parties have been outspoken against. In the past Arias Cañete has served as the chairperson of two separate oil firms that related to fuel storage and supply. He and his wife have since sold off all their shares in the firms in a bid to appease his detractors, but he still received a barrage of questions from MEP’s over his brother in law’s continued involvement in the industry.
The questions are understandable, as Mr Arias Cañete has shown in the past to have taken advantage of such a situation. During his time as Spanish Minister for the Environment he gave the go ahead to explore for oil off the coast of the Canary Islands. One of his oil firms was based here. This came in addition to him allowing fracking for shale gas and cutting funding for solar power, issues that environmentalist groups believe make him completely unsuitable for the climate change portfolio.