Tiemo Wölken – the jack of all trades

Tiemo Wölken is spokesman for the Socialist Group in the ENVI and has already been shadow rapporteur for various dossiers. Photo: Waldemar Salesski

For Tiemo Wölken, the stakes are high when the European Parliament votes on its position on the Due Diligence Act today. The SPD politician worked on the dossier as his group’s shadow rapporteur in the Environment Committee. He is fighting for companies to pay attention to the environmental impact of their supply chains and, above all, to make them climate-neutral by 2050. However, the conservative forces in Parliament, including large parts of the EPP, reject this – the vote is thus likely to be close.

Wölken has little understanding of this, he speaks of a “hopelessly backward-looking policy.” Above all, the group of CDU/CSU parliamentarians would have to decide “whether to seek reactionary majorities with right-wing extremists, including the AfD or to stand up for a values-based Europe with social democrats, greens and liberals.”

The EU supply chain law is one of several dossiers to which the 37-year-old has devoted himself as shadow rapporteur. In 2016, he moved up to the Strasbourg Parliament, and since last year he has been acting as spokesman for the Social Democrats in the ENVI Committee. In his early years on the Legal Affairs Committee, he focused on digital policy; it is now climate and health policy.

Hydrogen for Tiemo Wölken central to decarbonization

He worked intensively on the Renewable Energies Directive – in Wölken’s view the central instrument for getting member states to switch from fossil fuels to renewables. He also played a moderating role in the renegotiation of the combustion engine phase-out, says Wölken, after “the FDP took a liking to synthetic fuels.” However, he says, fueling passenger cars with electricity instead of converting hydrogen into synthetic fuels is much more efficient.

Hydrogen can be and is the solution to the problem and thus the answer for decarbonizing German industry,” he says. However, hydrogen only has this potential if it is green and available in sufficient quantities. “Hydrogen is the key to succeeding in the transformation to fossil emission-free industry, but only if we have it in sufficient quantities, and we must indeed prioritize in which areas we use hydrogen first.”

For Wölken, regional and European politics are always closely linked. “They play together quite often and in quite a lot of places, and usually where you wouldn’t suspect it.” In the case of the Industrial Emissions Directive legislation, for example, which is about methane emissions and the extent to which cow barns and the cow population are covered by this directive. He says this is of central importance for family-run farms in Lower Saxony.

‘I can now virtually turn my hobby into politics’

Or in the case of crab fishing, where there was an outcry about a master plan from the EU Commission that would ban bottom trawling. “There are quite often points of contact between all levels,” states Wölken. Here comes the Commission’s proposal into play, which is then implemented by the Landtag and the Bundestag. At the same time, he says, it is his job to tell the Commission this is causing a lot of unrest on the ground. “This is very important input I gather for my parliamentary work in Brussels.”

Tiemo Wölken was infected with the Europe virus during an internship in Brussels, he says. In the European Parliament, there is a third level where everyone meets: Visitors, journalists, lobbyists – “everyone talks and scurries around, and that totally fascinated me even as a young student.

After graduating from high school, he did his community service at Lebenshilfe in Buxtehude and initially toyed with the idea of studying to become a teacher. But then he studied law in Osnabrück and focused on European law. In 2016, he was elected to the European Parliament for the Weser-Ems district. His studies helped him understand how important Europe is for national legislation. As a substitute candidate, he did not assume at the time he would be able to move up. “I can now turn my hobby into politics, so to speak, which makes me very, very happy.” Livia Hofmann


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