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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 27 October 2014

Preparation Environment Council, 28 October 2014

The first formal Environment Council under the Italian Presidency will be held in Luxembourg on 28 October. Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Commission. The Council will deal with environment points in the morning before moving on to climate issues over lunch and afterwards. The first environment point will be a public debate on the conclusions on reinforcing the environmental dimension of EU economic governance and the Europe 2020 Strategy, with a particular focus on resource efficiency and the circular economy. It will be followed by an orientation debate on the waste target review, proposed in July by the Commission as part of the broader package of initiatives to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling in the Member States. Over lunch, ministers will also discuss the climate-energy framework. The afternoon discussion will focus on the conclusions that are expected to be adopted at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC 'COP 20') which will take place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December. Under any other business points, the Presidency and Commission will report on the outcomes of recent international meetings, including the biodiversity conferences in Korea in October, the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aårhus Convention (MOP 5) and the second session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (MOPP 2). The Czech Republic will report on the Carpathian Convention COP 4. Finally, Germany, Austria and France will inform the Council about the European Sustainable Development Week (30 May to 5 June 2015).

Waste Package

The Council will hold an orientation debate on the Commission's proposal to review waste targets, which is part of a package on the ‘Circular Economy’ adopted by the Commission in July. The aim is to move Europe towards a circular economy in which less waste is generated, and where it cannot be avoided, as much as possible is converted back into resources that can be re-injected into the economy (see IP/14/763).

Achieving the new waste targets set out in the package would directly create 580 000 new jobs compared to today's performance, while making Europe more competitive and reducing demand for increasingly scarce resources. The proposals also mean reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The plans ask Europeans to recycle 70 % of municipal waste and 80 % of packaging waste by 2030, and ban burying recyclable waste in landfill sites as of 2025. The Commission's proposal aims to align the existing waste related targets to the objectives of the General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 (7th EAP) and also to the objectives of the Roadmap on resource efficiency. It includes revised targets for the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives. It also includes several measures to simplify reporting, improve statistics, clarify the measurement methods and anticipate possible implementation problems.

The debate will be structured around three questions drawn up by the Presidency, namely on the overall level of ambition, views on specific proposed measures and on waste prevention and re-use issues.

Greening of the European Semester and the Europe 2020 Strategy

The Council will discuss a compromise text prepared by the Italian Presidency, with a view to adopting conclusions on the Greening of the European Semester and the Europe 2020 Strategy mid-term review.

The European Council and the European Parliament have agreed that elements of the 7th EAP should be included in the regular monitoring process of the Europe 2020 Strategy, to ensure that it is built on a strong foundation of sustainability and resource efficiency. They also agreed to assess whether it would be appropriate for a lead resource efficiency target to be included in the European Semester. Such a target would enable the EU, Member States and businesses to put robust and effective measures in place to improve their performance, focusing political attention on the opportunities of higher resource efficiency: improving our current resource productivity by 30 % by 2030 would increase GDP by up to 3 % and create around 2 million more jobs than under the existing 15 % baseline scenario. The Commission suggested a candidate for a potential target in the Package on a Circular Economy.

In a public debate, which will take the form of a tour de table, the Environment ministers will present their countries' positions on whether to include an aspirational resource efficiency target in the Europe 2020 review and the role of environment ministers in planning European economic policies.

The Council conclusions will feed into the subsequent Commission work on the review of the Strategy. The decision on whether to include a resource efficiency target in the Europe 2020 Strategy will be taken in the context of the mid-term review, taking into account the results of the on-going public consultation and also the recommendations of the European Resource Efficiency Platform.

Lima Climate Conference

The Council will prepare the EU’s position ahead of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will take place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December. Ministers will be invited to resolve the remaining outstanding issues, namely on the long term goal, the communication of the EU Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), finance and the pre-Paris assessment phase.

Any other business

Outcome of Convention on Biological Diversity

The Presidency and the Commission will provide information about the outcome of the recent multilateral biodiversity conferences: the CBD COP 12, the Cartagena Protocol COP-MOP 7 and the Nagoya Protocol COP-MOP 1 which took place in Pyeongchang, Korea, in September-October. Agreement was reached on further steps to accelerate the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets, achieving an overall resource mobilisation accord and taking important steps towards an international regime on access and benefit sharing.

Outcome of Aarhus Convention MOP-5 and Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers MOPP-2

The Commission and the Presidency will also report on the outcome of the Aårhus Convention MOP 5, which took place in Maastricht from 30 June to 2 July 2014. The Aårhus principles of access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters are key to achieving better and more transparent decision-making and to ensuring the participation of civil society. The Maastricht Declaration sent a strong political signal that these principles should play an important role in the definition of the Post-2015 Agenda, empowering the public to play a role in the protection of the environment and the transition to a green economy, also in developing countries.

Outcome of Carpathian Convention COP 4

The Czech Republic will briefly inform the Council about the outcome of the COP 4 meeting of the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which took place in the Czech Republic in September.

European Sustainable Development Week

Germany, Austria and France will report on planning for the upcoming European Sustainable Development Week (30 May to 5 June 2015). The initiative is proposed by the European Sustainable Development Network and aims to link national development days and weeks that already take place in various Member States around a common date, in an effort to generate momentum at European level. Possible synergies with Green Week 2015 (to take place in Brussels at the same time, from 3 to 5 June 2015) are likely to be discussed.


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