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Brussels, 21 June 2011

Preparation Environment Council, 21 June 2011

The final Environment Council under the Hungarian Presidency will be held on 21 June in Luxembourg. Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli, and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Commission. The Council will open with a progress report on efforts to adopt the proposed recast of the Seveso Directive on the prevention of major chemical accidents. This will be followed by another progress report on proposed changes to legislation on GMO cultivation. Conclusions will be adopted on two files, on the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050 which was published on 8 March 2011, and on the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources scheduled for 2012. Among the AOB points, the Commission will update Ministers on developments regarding the 2008 Directive bringing aviation into the EU Emission Trading System, Ministers will hear information from Romania about CSD 19, and a presentation by the Commission about its plans for the Rio+20 conference. Poland will also outline its plans for its coming Council Presidency.


After adoption of the 'A' points, the Council will begin with a progress report from the Presidency on the Commission's proposal for a new Seveso III Directive on the control of major-accident hazards. The Presidency is hoping for a first reading agreement on the proposal in December. The revision will align the Directive with recent changes to the EU system of classification of dangerous substances, strengthen the provisions related to public access to safety information, participation in decision-making and access to justice, improve the way information is collected, managed, made available and shared, and introduce stricter standards for inspections. No debate is foreseen.


The Council will hear the Presidency's progress report on the proposal on GMO cultivation, which gives Member States the possibility to decide on GMO cultivation on their territories. The report outlines the progress achieved during the last six months, which has been useful in clarifying several questions on WTO aspects, legal issues and possible grounds that Member States could use to restrict or prohibit GMO cultivation. It also covers the progress achieved in implementing the 2008 Environment Council Conclusions on GMOs.

This progress report should enable the forthcoming EU Presidencies to engage in further constructive work with the objective of reaching a common position as soon as possible. Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli will call on Member States to double their efforts to find the necessary common ground to accommodate the views of Member States wanting to cultivate GMOs on their territory and those wishing to restrict or prohibit cultivation. The Commission remains committed to working with the Council on the clarification and possible improvement of the proposal.


The Council will adopt conclusions and exchange views with an eye to the upcoming Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources. The conclusions will cover the following major areas: climate change, land-use and extreme water phenomena; integration of water policy objectives into other policy areas; ecosystems and ecosystem services; innovation and interface with science policy; intra-EU and international co-operation; and governance issues. The Presidency has tabled a question about Member States' expectations for the Blueprint. Views may be exchanged on all key aspects of EU freshwater policy, including the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, water scarcity and drought, the vulnerability of the water environment to climate change and other pressures, support for the implementation of water policy in the next financial perspectives. These discussions will be public.

Climate change: Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the Commission's communication "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050" which was published on 8 March 2011. The conclusions will highlight the importance of developing long-term, cost-effective strategies to meet the goal by 2050 of an 80% reduction below 1990 levels of the EU's domestic greenhouse gas emissions and to give clear signals for businesses and investors. The Roadmap proposes emission reduction milestones of minus 40% by 2030 and minus 60% by 2040. The conclusions will underline the key importance of achieving the agreed objective to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2020 in order to meet these emission reduction targets as economically as possible. Finally, the conclusions will also stress the need to integrate climate change objectives and milestones into all relevant sectoral policy areas, including agriculture, transport and regional policy.

Post-2010 EU Biodiversity Strategy

Biodiversity is a priority issue for the Presidency, so the Council will adopt conclusions on the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy adopted by the Commission on 3 May. The conclusions are expected to focus on the objectives of the strategy, the strategy's contribution to the EU 2020 Strategy and the Green Economy, the importance of integrating biodiversity into sectoral policies, the ongoing reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, and the discussions on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework. The conclusions will also highlight the need to ensure common implementation, to develop a legislative instrument to combat invasive alien species, and to ensure adequate financing for biodiversity and nature conservation. The Commission hopes to see Member States endorse the Strategy and its targets, sending a global message that the EU is ready to follow its ambitious commitments with concrete actions and integrate biodiversity into ongoing policy reforms.

Any other business

Among the numerous any other business points, Commissioner Hedegaard will update Ministers on the latest state of implementation of the 2008 Directive bringing aviation into the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS). The Commission will report on the recent Conference on the Implementation of EU Environmental Law, which will feed into a Communication on Implementation later on this year. The Romanian minister will report on the outcome of the recent Nineteenth Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 19), and the Commission will present the Rio+20 Communication adopted on 20 June. Poland will outline its environment and climate priorities for its upcoming Presidency.

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