Luxembourg, 13 June 2003
10273/03 (Presse 165)
2517th Council meeting - Environment - Luxembourg, 13 June 2003
environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage Public deliberation 6
emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from non-road mobile machinery 7
monitoring mechanism of Community greenhouse gas emissions and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol 8
Legislative package on chemicals 9
OTHER BUSINESS 10
"ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" PANEUROPEAN MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE 10
ACTION PLAN FOR ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY 11
FOREST LAW ENFORCEMENT, GOVERNANCE AND TRADE 11
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AN ENLARGED UNION 11
NATURA 2000 12
VEHICLE EMISSIONS 12
DESIGNATION OF PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE AREAS (PSAs) 13
FLOOD PREVENTION 13
HERBICIDE PARAQUAT 13
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
The Governments of the Acceding States were represented as follows:
environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage Public deliberation
The Council reached agreement on the body of the text (article 1, articles 3 to 21 and article 2, §1 (3)) concerning the proposal for a Directive on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage. The German, the Austrian and the Irish delegations were unable to join the agreement.
The President invited the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) to finalise the work with a view to resolving the remaining issues:
the definitions contained in article 2 of the proposal (with exception of article 2 § 1 (3), regarding the definition of protected species and habitats, on which agreement was reached);
the technical issues in the annexes to the proposal.
Once these issues are resolved the Council is expected to adopt as soon as possible its common position, with a view to forwarding it to the European Parliament for a second reading, in accordance with the codecision procedure.
After an arduous negotiation, the Council was able to reach agreement on a compromise text tabled by the Presidency focusing on the following key issues:
Scope of the proposed Directive
The proposal aims at covering environmental damage caused by the operation of any occupational activities listed in the relevant annex to the proposal (inter alia, energy industries, production and processing of metals, mineral industry, chemical industry, waste management). As regards occupational activities other than the ones covered by the relevant annex, damage to protected species and natural habitats will be covered whenever the operator has been at fault or has been negligent.
Subsidiary State liability
The competent national authority shall require that the necessary preventive and remedial measures are taken by the operator in line with the "polluter pays" principle. However, should the operator fail to comply with the obligations laid down by the proposed Directive, be unidentified, or not required to bear the costs under the proposal's provisions, the competent authority may take these measures itself.
Member States may allow the operator not to bear the cost of remedial actions as required by the proposed Directive, if he demonstrates that he was not at fault or negligent. However, this possibility will only apply if he is able to demonstrate that the environmental damage was caused by an emission or activity expressly authorised by the competent national authority and that the emission, activity, or manner of using a certain product in the course of an activity, was not considered likely to cause environmental damage, in the light of the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the time of the event.
Financial security provisions
Member States shall take measures to encourage the development of financial security instruments and markets with the aim of enabling operators to make use of appropriate financial guarantees to respond to their environmental responsibilities.
Within five years from the date of implementation of the proposed Directive, the Commission is requested to report on, inter alia, its effectiveness with respect to remediation of environmental damages and on the affordability of existing financial security systems. In the light of its report, the Commission may make proposals for the creation of a mandatory financial security system.
The proposal aims at establishing a framework whereby environmental damage can be prevented or remedied. There are a number of accidental circumstances that can lead to environmental damage (e.g. oil spills, collapse of waste retention dams, and chemical spills). In such cases, there is a need to ensure that the damaged environmental assets are restored; a better solution would be that the damage does not even occur, so that prevention is also a valuable objective in this context.
It does not cover environmental damage, or imminent threat of damage, in cases of armed conflict, hostilities, civil war or insurrection, as well as in the case of a natural phenomenon of exceptional, inevitable and irresistible nature.
In line with the "polluter pays" principle the proposal is aimed at making operators financially responsible for the necessary preventive and remedial measures.
emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from non-road mobile machinery
The Council agreed on a general approach, pending the European Parliament's opinion in first reading, on a proposal for a Directive relating to measures against the emission of gaseous (e.g. nitrogen dioxide) and particulate pollutants (e.g. black smoke and carbon monoxide) from internal combustion engines to be installed in non-road mobile machinery (i.e. all machinery that is not intended for the transport of goods or passengers on the road). The United Kingdom delegation expressed its intention to abstain, once the Council is ready to adopt its common position at a forthcoming meeting.
The general approach provides for, inter alia, the inclusion in the scope of the proposed Directive of inland waterway vessels (e.g. tugs or pusher craft which are built to tow or push vessels of 20m or more) and railway locomotive engines.
The proposal follows on from Directive 97/68/EC, which implemented a two-stage approach to the reduction of emission limit values for compression ignition engines in this kind of machinery and called on the Commission to propose a further reduction in emission limits, taking into account technological developments in this field and the air quality situation at Union level. The current proposal is thus intended to amend the above mentioned Directive with a view to adapting its provisions to the current situation, particularly as regards the improvement of air quality.
Moreover, it aims at approximating the laws of the Member States relating to emission standards and type-approval procedures for this kind of engines and machinery. It is intended to promote the efficient functioning of the Internal Market, while protecting human health and the environment.
It is recalled that, the Council (Environment) adopted on 17 October 2002, a Directive on the same issue concerning in particular small spark ignition engines, such as lawn mowers, chain saws, trimmers, cutters, pumps, etc. (for further details, please consult Press Release doc. 12976/02).
monitoring mechanism of Community greenhouse gas emissions and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol
The Council held a policy debate on a proposal for a Decision for a monitoring mechanism of Community greenhouse emissions and the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
Ministers were asked by the Presidency to focus their interventions on the following issues:
The proposal for a new monitoring mechanism would bring the Community in line with the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, its provisions are relevant for the assessment of the future national allocation plans in the framework of the proposal for a Community green gas emission allowance trading scheme(2). The proposal would also provide for the basic requirements for prompt use of the flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol (i.e. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM); Joint Implementation (JI); Emissions Trading (ET)).
In view of the above, all delegations expressed their wish for the Council to reach political agreement on a common position at its next meeting (Environment) in October 2003.
The Kyoto Protocol allows a choice between 1990 and 1995 as base year for the calculation of the initial assigned amount of a Party, for the three groups of fluorinated gases that are part of its scope.
The majority of Member States showed a preference for 1995 as base year. Some delegations wished to keep the flexibility provided in the Kyoto Protocol for choosing the base year.
European Climate Change Programme (ECCP)
Although this was not included in the initial Commission's proposal, the majority of delegations have considered positively the possibility of making the ECCP a "national programme" for the Community. A small group of delegations, as well as the Commission, expressed their doubts on the benefits of its inclusion in the proposed Decision.
A number of Acceding States took the floor to express their wish that the possible inclusion of the Programme in the proposal should be done taking into account their particular needs and individual status visàvis the Kyoto Protocol.
The proposal is aimed at replacing Decision 93/389/EEC, which established a mechanism for monitoring anthropogenic (i.e. caused by human activity) greenhouse gas emissions. The objective is to make the Community and the Member States better able to comply with the reporting requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)(3) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol(4).
It aims in particular at:
By replacing the existing Decision the proposal is expected to provide interested parties with a single clear and coherent legislative act. It takes into account the new reporting requirements agreed in the seventh Conference of the Parties (COP 7) to the UNFCCC, which met in Marrakesh, Morocco on 29 October 9 November 2001.
Legislative package on chemicals
The Council held a brief exchange of views on the chemicals legislative package, with respect to the forthcoming Commission's formal legislative proposals.
Several delegations welcomed the Commission's launch of its public consultation process on the Internet and underscored the importance of this issue for protection of the environment and human health, as well as for the competitiveness of the Union's chemical industry.
The idea for the creation of a European Chemicals Agency was welcomed by a number of delegations. Austria and Sweden expressed the wish to host it in their respective countries in the future.
The Council took note of the Commission's information that it expects to have a formal proposal ready in October 2003, for examination by the Council and the Parliament in first reading.
The Commission launched on 7 May 2003 an eight-weeks consultation procedure via the Internet on the draft chemicals legislation.
The proposal for a new Regulation, which is expected to replace some forty different pieces of current legislation, will be aimed at increasing the protection of human health and the environment from exposure to chemicals, while at the same time contributing to maintain and enhance the competitiveness and innovative capability of the Union's chemicals industry.
The implementation of the Union's chemicals policy is to be developed via a new system called REACH: Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, as set out in the Commission's White Paper on the "Strategy for a future Chemicals' Policy" (February 2001).
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
Forest Focus * Public deliberation
The Council adopted a common position on a proposal for a Regulation concerning monitoring of forests and environmental interactions in the Community (Forest Focus) (doc. 8243/03 + 9867/1/03 REV 1 ADD 1). The President took note of the abstentions of the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish delegations. The common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading, in accordance with the co-decision procedure.
The common position responds to the concerns expressed by some Member States by introducing changes to the Commission's amended proposal with respect to the inclusion of forest fire prevention measures, the corresponding budget increase, as well as regards the comitology procedure.
The proposal aims to establish a new Community scheme to assess forest ecosystem conditions. It covers an initial six-year period (2003-2008) with a proposed budget of EURO 52 Million for the period 2003-2006. Financial resources for the remaining two years will be allocated according to the new financial perspectives for the Community.
It is recalled that, the Council reached political agreement on the draft Regulation at its meeting on 4 March 2003. For further details, please consult Press Release doc. 6677/03. (http://consilium.europa.eu/newsroom/ - links: Council; Environment).
Transboundary movement of GMOs Public deliberation
The Council adopted a Regulation on transboundary movements of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (doc. 9900/03), in the form of the common position as amended by the European Parliament in second reading.
In this context, the President of the Council welcomed the deposit of the 50th instrument of ratification of the Protocol by the Republic of Ghana, as well as the information received on this occasion that the deposit of the 51st instrument of ratification by the Republic of Palau had just been undertaken. This meant that the minimum number of Parties to the Protocol had been reached, ensuring its future entry into force (90 days after the 51st ratification).
The Regulation is designed to implement part of the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety in the Community. While existing Community legislation covers to a large extent imports and trade in GMOs, the proposal is intended to fulfil the requirements under the Protocol on exporters by establishing a common system of notification and information for transboundary movements of GMOs.
It is recalled that, the Council adopted the common position at its meeting on 4 March 2003, and recently reached agreement with the Parliament on this legal act. For further details, please consult Press Releases docs. 6677/03 and 10227/03, respectively. (http://consilium.europa.eu/newsroom/ - links: Council; Environment).
Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
The Council adopted a Decision on the accession of the European Community, to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone (so called Gothenburg Protocol) (doc. 8565/1/03 REV 1).
The Decision authorises the President of the Council to designate the person(s) (e.g. the Commission) empowered to deposit the instrument of accession with the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN).
The Protocols sets maximum permitted levels of emissions (emissions ceilings) for each national Party for the four main precursor pollutants responsible for the above mentioned damages: sulphur dioxyde, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia. The ceilings are to be met by 2010. Implementation of the Protocol will contribute to achieving Community goals for protection of the environment and human health.
Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States
The Council adopted a Decision on Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States (doc. 10410/03).
The Decision focuses on 10 result-oriented priorities for action in the Member States, to be accompanied, whenever practicable, by targets:
active and preventive measures for the unemployed and the inactive;
job creation and entrepreneurship;
address change and promote adaptability and mobility in the labour market;
promote development of human capital and lifelong learning;
increase labour supply and promote active ageing;
promote the integration of and combat the discrimination of people at a disadvantage in the labour market;
make work pay through incentives to enhance work attractiveness;
transform undeclared work into regular employment;
address regional employment disparities.
It also includes a chapter on good governance and partnership for the implementation of the guidelines by the Member States (e.g. involvement of parliamentary bodies, the social partners and other relevant actors).
It is recalled that, the Council agreed on a general approach on the Decision at its meeting on 2-3 June 2003. For further details, please consult Press Release doc. 9688/03. (http://consilium.europa.eu/newsroom/ -links: Council; Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs).
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
The Council amended the Common Consular Instructions and the Common Manual with a view to aligning these texts with Council Decision 2002/44/EC as regards visa fees (doc. 9791/03).
Antidumping duty on imports of certain malleable cast iron tube or pipe fittings consigned from Argentina
The Council adopted a Regulation extending the definitive anti-dumping duty imposed by Regulation (EC) No 1784/2000 on imports of certain malleable cast iron tube or pipe fittings originating in Brazil and on imports of certain malleable cast iron tube or pipe fittings consigned from Argentina, whether declared as originating in Argentina or not, and terminating the investigation in respect of imports from one Argentinian exporter (doc. 9717/03).
Training for drivers
The Council adopted a Directive on the initial qualification and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles for the carriage of goods or passengers following an agreement reached with the European Parliament in second reading under the co-decision procedure (doc. 10024/03 + 10024/03 ADD1).
The amendments agreed by the Council and the European Parliament introduce the monitoring of the level of qualification achieved in the overall assessment of the Directive and also the instruction of drivers in the prevention of crime as this is becoming a serious pan-European problem.
The text is aimed at establishing a Community framework on a compulsory training for both young people interested in becoming professional drivers and drivers who are already working. This legal text encompasses the existing vocational training under Regulation 3820/85/EEC and provides answers to the specific problems of recruitment, quality and competition.
Safety of third country aircraft
The Council adopted a common position on a Directive establishing safety rules to be respected by third country aircraft using Community airports. In accordance with the co-decision procedure the text of the common position will be sent to the European Parliament for a second reading.
The proposal is aimed at establishing a legal framework for the introduction and the operational application of a safety assessment of foreign carriers operating services to and from EU countries, while leaving enough margin to the Member States to build the corresponding mechanisms individually or collectively.
(1) ?Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.?The documents whose references are given in the text are available on the Council's Internet site HYPERLINK "http://register.consilium.europa.eu/scripts/utfregisterDir/WebDriver.exe?MIval=advanced&MIlang=EN&fc=REGAISEN&srm=5&ssf=&mt=128&md=100"http://consilium.europa.eu.?Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements are available on the above mentioned Council Internet site or may be obtained from the Press Office.
(2) It is recalled that, the Council adopted its common position on this issue on 18 March 2003.
(4) The Community ratified the Protocol on 31 May 2001. For the full text of the Protocol, please consult the following webpage: HYPERLINK http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.html http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.html