2556th Council meeting - Environment - Brussels, 22 December 2003
European Council - PRES/03/376 22/12/2003
Brussels, 22 December 2003
16140/03 (Presse 376)
2556th Council meeting - Environment - Brussels, 22 December 2003
transitional points system for heavy goods vehicles travelling through Austria for 2004 - Public deliberation 8
MANAGEMENT OF BATHING WATER QUALITY - Public deliberation 8
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION ALLOWANCE 8
SEAGOING SHIPS emissions - Council Conclusions 9
CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY - Council Conclusions 11
2003 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY REVIEW - Council Conclusions 20
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) - Public deliberation 21
FUTURE FINANCING OF ENVIRONMENTAL INSTRUMENTS (life) 22
EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENT AGENCY 22
Other business 22
THEMATIC STRATEGY ON THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT 23
CO2 CAR EMISSIONS 23
UN COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 12th SESSION (CSD 12), NEW YORK, 16-30/04/04 23
EUROPEAN UNION'S INITIATIVE "WATER FOR LIFE" (EUWI) - THE MEDITERRANEAN COMPONENT 23
ADRIATIC IONIAN INITIATIVE (AII) - SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF ADRIATIC AND IONIAN SEAS 24
APPLICATION TO THE IMO FOR PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE SEA AREAS (PSSA) IN THE BALTIC SEA 24
SHIP DECOMMISSIONING 24
COMPENSATION FOR OIL POLLUTION VICTIMS (IOPCF) 24
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
Justice and Home affairs
EDUCATION AND CULTURE
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
The Governments of the Acceding States were represented as follows:
transitional points system for heavy goods vehicles travelling through Austria for 2004 - Public deliberation
The Council adopted by qualified majority, the Austrian delegation voting against, a Regulation establishing a transitional transit system applicable to heavy good vehicles travelling through Austria for 2004, in accordance with a common draft (PE-CONS 3689/03) approved by the Conciliation Committee on 26 November 2003 (see 14980/03).
The Austrian delegation made clear that the new legislation does not achieve the intended environmental benefits and that the movement of goods should be made by rail rather than by road in this respect. This delegation issued a statement.
The Council and the Commission entered a statement (14980/1/03 ADD 1).
MANAGEMENT OF BATHING WATER QUALITY - Public deliberation
The Council noted that the conditions did not yet exist to permit it to reach political agreement on the proposal for a Directive concerning the management of bathing water quality (13789/02).
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION ALLOWANCE
The Council held an in-depth debate based on a questionnaire submitted by the Presidency on the proposal for a Directive amending the Directive establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community, in respect of the Kyoto Protocol's project mechanisms (11916/03).
The Council gave overall political guidance on the proposal and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to give it further technical examination.
As regards the first question on the timing of conversion of credits, most delegations supported the early conversion of credits (during 2005-2007) from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) within the EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS).
Concerning the setting of quantitative limits to credit conversion, delegations stressed the need to ensure that priority is given to achieving emission reductions through domestic measures. Many delegations, however, considered that a capping mechanism would create uncertainty for operators. As regards the requirements for project credits that are accepted in the EU emission trading scheme, several delegations considered that these requirements should not be more stringent than those agreed internationally in the Marrakech Accords, taking into account the decision adopted at COP 9, while other delegations wished to further examine the conditions for certain types or credits, especially from sinks and large water dams.
SEAGOING SHIPS emissions - Council Conclusions
The Council adopted the following Conclusions:
"THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION:
RECOGNISING that atmospheric pollution at local, regional and global levels represents one of the major threats to human health and the environment;
RECOGNISING ALSO that atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships contribute to acidification, eutrophication, the formation of tropospheric ozone and particulate matter, as well as to global climate change and to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, and NOTING that international and EU legislation does not cover this matter sufficiently;
RECALLING that in the context of a new Protocol to the MARPOL Convention 73/78, the International Maritime Organisation adopted in 1997 an annex (Annex VI) containing regulations to reduce air pollution from ships;
RECALLING that the Kyoto Protocol states that Parties shall pursue the limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases working through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO);
RECALLING the Clean Air for Europe Programme, CAFE, which was established in order to elaborate a thematic strategy on major air pollution sources;
RECALLING the objectives of the 6th Environment Action Programme, and, in particular, the achievement of air quality levels not dangerous for human health and the environment and the reduction of GHG emissions in the transport sector, in particular by identifying and undertaking specific actions for marine shipping if no such action is agreed within the International Maritime Organisation by 2003;
NOTES that the Commission is actively pursuing its work on measures to promote modal shift, taking into account their relevant impacts, and REQUESTS that the environmental performance of all modes of transport is improved;
CONSIDERING that Directives 1999/30/EC and 2002/3/EC require that plans or programmes should be developed to ensure compliance with limit values in ambient air for SO2, NO2, PM10 and ozone by the date or dates laid down therein;
CONSIDERING that Directive 2001/81/EC on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants commits the Commission to specify a programme of actions which could be taken at international and community level as appropriate to reduce emissions from the international maritime traffic;
WELCOMES the Commission proposal for a Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships in order to protect human health and the environment and UNDERLINES that the Strategy has to be the driving force for international, regional and local long-term policies in this field;
UNDERLINES the importance of promoting international actions to effectively address the environmental problems caused by emissions from seagoing ships of all flags on a global scale; therefore BELIEVES that international solutions should be pursued working closely with key shipping nations at IMO and that, in this context, the adoption of Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention represents a key step and URGES the EU Member States which have not yet ratified this important international instrument to do so as soon as possible to allow its entering into force;
CONSIDERS that it is essential to reinforce the consideration of EU Member States' positions at IMO negotiations in particular to PROMOTE, in the revision phase of Annex VI of IMO MARPOL Convention, the adoption of more ambitious measures as regards a tighter global sulphur cap for heavy fuel oils burned by ships and tighter nitrogen dioxide emission standards for these engines used in ships;
13. CALLS FOR THE PROMOTION, in the revision phase of the IMO SOLAS Convention on the safety of life at sea, of the decommissioning before 2008 of halon fire fighting systems on board ships built before 1994 and TAKES NOTE OF the Commission's aim to study the use of halons in existing cargo ships operating in EU waters;
14. SUPPORTS the development of an IMO Strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from shipping including a working plan towards 2005; UNDERLINES the need to improve the methodologies for estimating and reporting emissions from ships, and URGES the Member States and the Commission to work together at IMO to ensure that methodologies are improved and that the IMO GHG strategy is concrete and ambitious; UNDERLINES the importance of closer cooperation between UNFCC experts, IMO experts and IPCC experts;
15. RECOGNISES that progress within IMO depends on the input of IMO member states and therefore URGES the EU Member States to submit concrete proposals on tighter NOx standards under MARPOL Annex VI and on the different aspects of the IMO GHG Strategy.
16. RECOGNISES the need to investigate specific EU actions with respect to the reduction of NOx and GHG emissions by marine transportation; INVITES the Commission to consider a proposal for tighter NOx standards by the end of 2006 if IMO has not made any proposals for tighter standards by that date; and also INVITES the Commission to report on possible actions on ship GHG in 2005;
17. RECOGNISES that not all the environmental problems are properly addressed at international level and that, in particular, the contribution of seagoing ships to the concentration of particulate matter and of ozone and its precursors in ambient air needs further consideration and therefore INVITES the Commission to include these issues in the framework of the CAFE Programme ensuring that all emission sources are considered through an integrated evaluation model taking into account the costs and benefits of the possible reduction measures;
18. UNDERLINES the need to promote the development and use of emissions abatement technologies and the use of market based instruments that can substantially contribute to the reduction of emissions and therefore REQUESTS the Commission to continue work in these respects and to develop corresponding proposals if appropriate;
19. STRESSES ALSO the need to consider the geographical scale of air pollution problem linked to seagoing ships in identifying the most appropriate measures to be adopted at an appropriate level taking fully into account the subsidiarity and proportionality principle;
20. RECALLING that Community legislation already in force on the sulphur content in marine fuels covers only gas oils, RECOGNISES the need to update the current legislation on sulphur content in liquid fuels to include marine fuels with the aim of addressing EU acidification and air quality problems in a cost-effective way; WELCOMES the work underway with the European Parliament on the Commission proposal to amend Directive 1999/32 as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels and AGREES to expedite progress on this issue;
21. AGREES with the Commission proposal to further evaluate the cost-effectiveness of measures to regulate VOC emissions from loading ships in comparison to measures already mandatory for loading inland ships through Directive 94/63/EC (20 December 1994);
22. WELCOMES the decision to involve acceding and candidate country representatives in consultations on the Strategy, including on the parallel proposal to amend Directive 1999/32/EC on the sulphur content of marine fuels."
CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY - Council Conclusions
The Council adopted the following Conclusions:
"THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
General concerns and priorities
RECOGNISING that, despite many successful achievements, implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) still faces many and complex obstacles, many of which are external to the CBD forum, and that the destruction of biological diversity continues at an unprecedented rate,
AWARE of the intrinsic value of biodiversity and that its loss threatens the capacity of ecosystems to provide goods and services in a sustainable way and therefore poses a risk to the very subsistence of human beings on Earth,
RECOGNISING the key role of the CBD in maintaining sustainable conditions for life and in providing opportunities for sustainable development and that halting the loss of biodiversity will be essential to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and WSSD objectives relating to poverty eradication, food security, health, environmental sustainability and water,
RECALLING the target of significantly reducing the rate of the biodiversity loss by 2010 (the 2010 target) included in the CBD Strategic Plan and the WSSD Plan of Implementation and the need for increased national, regional and international efforts to achieve this target,
FURTHER RECALLING the objective of halting biodiversity loss within the European Union by 2010 included in Conclusions of the Gothenburg European Summit and the 6th Environmental Action Programme (EAP),
WELCOMING the entry into force of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the first legally binding international agreement aiming at the safe use of GMOs resulting from modern biotechnology and specifically focusing on the transboundary movement of GMOs, and its contribution to the fulfilment of the objectives of the CBD,
REAFFIRMING that trade and environmental agreements should be mutually supportive with a view to achieving sustainable development,
RECALLING Article 174 of the EC Treaty whereby the Community policy shall aim at a high level of protection of the environment and shall be based on the Precautionary Principle; and also RECALLING that the Precautionary Principle is one of the foundations of the Protocol,
RECALLING the conclusions that it adopted before the fifth and sixth Conferences of Parties, on 30 March 2000 and 4 March 2002, and subsequently on 22 June 2002,
RECOGNISES the need to focus the activities of the CBD in the coming years on achieving the 2010 target and on contributing to the Millennium Development Goals;
FURTHER RECOGNISES the necessity of improving implementation of the CBD and its decisions as well as of the effective and practical implementation of the Cartagena Protocol through national and EU policies in order to achieve the EU 2010 objective and the global 2010 target, and to contribute to the safe use of modern biotechnology in accordance with the objective of Agenda 21;
EMPHASISES the importance of further developing international co-operation and support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in capacity building activities on the three objectives of the Convention as well as on the future implementation of the Cartagena Protocol;
REAFFIRMS the EU's strong political commitment to the effective implementation of the Convention and of the Cartagena Protocol as a contribution to the 2010 target as well as to the Millennium Development Goals;
COMMITS itself to promoting successful outcomes for the seventh meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD (COP 7) and of the first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP 1);
CALLS, as a priority, for the adoption at COP 7 of ambitious decisions on:
CALLS, as a priority, for the adoption at MOP 1 of ambitious decisions on:
RECOGNISES the necessity of ensuring the wide future application of decisions adopted at MOP 1, both by importing and exporting Parties;
AGREES on the detailed priorities for COP 7 and MOP 1 set out below;
Detailed priorities for COP 7
Strategic Plan, Multi Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) and World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)
EMPHASISES the fundamental importance of adopting and implementing a strategic, concrete and coherent Multi Year Programme of Work, as proposed by the Intersessional meeting of March 2003, which will review progress made towards the 2010 target at each COP until 2010, including where possible during the Ministerial Segments;
STRESSES the need to identify ways and means of considering the relevant socio-economic issues identified at the WSSD in the work programmes of the Convention and of supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals consistently with the CBD objectives;
RECOGNISES the need fully to implement the CBD Strategic Plan, with the aim of achieving its Mission and its four Goals by 2010; and therefore STRESSES the need:
Protected areas and ecological networks
RECOGNISES the role of protected areas and ecological networks as a pillar of in situ conservation and an essential tool to achieve the CBD objectives and to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the 2010 Target and the WSSD outcomes;
URGES the development, by 2010 on land and 2012 at sea, of comprehensive, ecologically representative and effectively managed national and regional systems of protected areas and ecological networks integrated into a global network; these systems of protected areas and ecological networks should be integrated into the broader landscape and seascape so as to maintain ecological structure and function;
BELIEVES that protected areas and ecological networks should be established and managed by taking into account socio-economic and institutional factors, following the bottom-up, participatory and ecosystem approaches, the need to integrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into the wider landscape and seascape, as well as with sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and development planning, and the wider socio-economic context;
SUPPORTS the adoption of a focussed and concrete programme of work with clear targets, activities, deadlines and responsibilities, which should specify the work to be done to achieve the above mentioned goals and the commitments of Parties on the identification, designation, management, notification, monitoring and evaluation of protected areas and ecological networks, in addition to existing activities of CBD and other organisations;
STRESSES that the CBD programme of work on protected areas should build upon and promote synergies among ongoing national, regional and international activities and should fully reflect the need for stakeholder involvement, equity and respect for the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, as well as considerations on the issue of governance;
CALLS FOR the establishment of effective means and mechanisms (including indicators) to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the programme of work and progress made in achieving the global system;
SUGGESTS the establishment of an open-ended Working Group to monitor and evaluate the programme of work on Protected Areas; STRESSES the need to secure the commitment of the Parties to an ambitious and targeted work programme, respecting the bottom-up approach, to be implemented immediately; and AGREES to consider, if the assessment indicates that the programme of work is not adequate, the adoption of additional measures under the CBD;
STRESSES the need to identify and develop, inter alia with the collaboration of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and interested development agencies, means for the sustained funding of protected areas and ecological networks, from public and private sources, the generation of funds through the provision of ecological services and the marketing of the benefits of sustainable management;
RECALLS the existing legislative framework on protected areas developed within the EU, in particular the Birds and Habitats Directives and Natura 2000 and LOOKS FORWARD to the submission of the Communication of the Commission on financing Natura 2000 ; RECOGNISES, while realising that outside the EU different specificities might require different approaches, the important contribution it makes to the implementation of the CBD programme of work and the Pan-European Ecological Network;
UNDERLINES the important role of the ecosystem approach including, but not exclusively, as a tool for planning and implementing of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in protected areas and ecological networks, enhancing sectoral integration and the involvement of relevant stakeholders, including local and indigenous communities;
Marine and coastal biodiversity
WELCOMES the SBSTTA Recommendation on marine and coastal biodiversity, considering that the world's oceans, seas, islands and coastal areas are an integrated and essential part of the Earth's ecosystem providing essential goods and services to the whole of humanity and that about 70% of the world's population lives in these areas, leading to pressures in terms of human activities such as urbanisation and use of natural resources;
STRESSES that the programme of work on coastal and marine biodiversity should integrate social and economical considerations, in particular regarding sustainable livelihoods and implications for local fishing communities and indigenous peoples;
STRESSES the importance of addressing the under-representation of marine protected and coastal areas; and therefore SUPPORTS the establishment by 2012 of a system of representative networks of such areas covering both coastal waters and the high seas, consistent with international law and as reflected in relevant international instruments, as part of a broader strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity;
ENDORSES the application of the principles of Integrated Marine and Coastal Area Management (IMCAM) and the Ecosystem Approach in the planning and management of coastal and marine ecosystems; and BELIEVES that use of these practical management tools will make an important contribution to the 2010 target;
RECOGNISES the specificity and importance of mountain ecosystems for their natural, social and cultural values and for the important services that they provide in terms of water conservation, energy production, reduction of soil erosion, control of water flows and upstream-downstream inter-connections; and UNDERLINES the importance of a significant reduction in the loss of mountain biodiversity as a contribution to the 2010 target;
CALLS ON Parties to develop and facilitate transboundary co-operation in mountain areas at regional and international levels in order to apply integrated planning and management systems at watershed level, including by taking action across the upland-lowland boundary, recalling the experience acquired in the framework of the Alpine Convention;
SUPPORTS the adoption of a targeted work programme on mountain biodiversity, which should complement other relevant CBD processes and thematic programmes of work such as those on forests, inland waters, dry and sub-humid lands and agriculture;
Transfer of Technology and Technology Co-operation
RECOGNISES that transfer of both hard and soft technologies, know-how, technical and scientific co-operation and capacity building are vital issues for the implementation of the CBD, especially in relation to the sustainable use of biological diversity components and environmentally sound technologies;
BELIEVES that a particular focus for carrying forward work on technology transfer and technical and scientific co-operation should be through their integration into other programmes of work of the CBD;
SUPPORTS the adoption of a targeted programme of work on transfer of technology and technology co-operation;
STRESSES the central role of the CBD clearing-house for the facilitation and promotion of technology transfer by sharing of relevant information and knowledge and for the promotion of technical and scientific co-operation among Parties to the widest extent possible, including North-South, South-South and South-North;
SUPPORTS co-operation with other relevant organisations such as UNEP, UNDP, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and the WTO, especially regarding existing databases, including patent databases, on technologies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, clean technologies and technologies that make use of genetic resources and the role of the Clearing House Mechanism as a gateway to this information;
Access and benefit sharing (ABS)
strongly ENCOURAGES the application of the Bonn Guidelines and the ratification and implementation of the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as important means of achieving the CBD objectives;
STRESSES the need to finalise and implement the action plan for capacity building for ABS;
RECOGNISES the need to take further measures to support compliance with the ABS provisions of the CBD, especially in countries with users under their jurisdiction, as highlighted in para 16(d) of the Bonn Guidelines;
UNDERLINES, in accordance with the mandate from the WSSD, its commitment to negotiating a transparent, effective and comprehensive international regime on ABS, building on an analysis of gaps in the present systems and an evaluation of experience gained in the implementation of the Bonn Guidelines;
LOOKS FORWARD TO the submission of the Communication of the Commission on the implementation of the Bonn Guidelines;
Co-operation between Conventions
STRESSES the importance of further improving co-operation, both at national and international level, between the CBD and the other Rio Conventions, all other relevant international agreements, in particular MEAs, multilateral agreements on trade and development co-operation, and specific international fora relevant to the CBD work, such as the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF);
URGES COP 7 to adopt a decision which gives additional guidance to the Secretariat and to Parties, focussing on concrete and practical ways further to improve cooperation among the Rio Conventions, within their frameworks and taking into account the completion of work by the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on climate change and biodiversity, as well as the outcome of the recent successful meetings in Espoo (Finland) and other activities to improve communication among the Conventions;
URGES COP 7 to adopt a decision taking forward the recommendation of the 2002 inter-sessional meeting of the CBD to develop a Global Partnership on Biodiversity to enhance synergies and co-operation on biodiversity, to avoid duplication of effort and to improve the implementation of key biodiversity-related MEAs;
Invasive alien species
RECALLS the Council conclusions of 25 June 2002 supporting the guiding principles for the prevention, introduction and mitigation of impacts of alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species and UNDERLINES the need for Parties to implement these principles;
CALLS for the establishment by the CBD Secretariat of partnerships with relevant International Organisations dealing with invasive alien species; and RECOGNISES that the involvement of other international bodies will enhance collaboration and synergy in addressing common goals;
STRESSES the need to identify and address specific gaps and inconsistencies in the international regulatory framework (including international and regional instruments, both binding and non binding, as well as standards);
WELCOMES the European Strategy for Invasive Alien Species developed under the Bern Convention and the adoption, in the context of the International Plant Protection Convention, of the supplement to the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 11 (Pest Risk Analysis for quarantine pests), which provides details regarding the analysis of the risks that plant pests pose to the environment and biodiversity, including risks affecting uncultivated/unmanaged plants, wild flora, habitats and ecosystems;
STRESSES the need to adopt and implement an international instrument on the introduction of harmful aquatic organisms transported in ballast water on ships;
STRESSES the need to further respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;
ENDORSES the recommendations of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions;
UNDERLINES the importance of continued work within the World Intellectual Property Organization, in particular through its Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore and in the Working Group on reform of the Patent Co-operation Treaty, in order to further respect, preserve and maintain traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities.
Detailed priorities for MOP 1
EMPHASISES the importance of adopting at MOP 1 appropriate procedures and a mechanism to promote compliance with the provisions of the Protocol, including through technical assistance to developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition, and to address cases of non-compliance, particularly through the setting up of a Compliance Committee, whose members should serve in their individual capacity;
CONSIDERS that the procedures and mechanism on compliance should be simple, transparent, non-judicial, participatory and of a facilitative nature, with the aim of preventing disputes from arising and of clarifying the interpretation and application of Protocol provisions. It should be possible for the compliance mechanism to take strong and effective measures in order to achieve compliance;
NOTES that Parties should be able to trigger the compliance procedure in relation to other Parties, and that the Compliance Committee should have the possibility of starting the compliance procedure in cases where no Party has triggered it, and of considering information deriving from all relevant sources;
Handling, transport, packaging and identification
STRESSES the need for MOP 1 to adopt practical and effective requirements and/or standards to implement Article 18 of the Protocol to establish international rules for the safe handling, transport, packaging and identification of GMOs; and REAFFIRMS the need for co-operation and mutual supportiveness with the activities of other international organisations in these areas;
NOTES that the clear identification of GMOs is important, inter alia to allow importing countries to verify that imported GMOs are those that they have approved; and, in particular, STRESSES the need to clarify what needs to be done in terms of identification of GMOs which are intended for use as food or feed or for processing;
WELCOMES the OECD Guidance for the designation of a Unique Identifier for Transgenic Plants which is now used for the EU regulatory approval process; SUPPORTS the adoption of the same unique identification system within the context of the Protocol;
NOTES that the issue of unique identification systems for micro-organisms and animals has not yet been addressed; and URGES MOP 1 to take appropriate action for swift development of a complete system;
RECOGNIZES the necessity of differentiating situations where the identity of a GMO is known and verified from situations where GMOs are present in mixtures, as well as the need to address thresholds for adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of authorised GMOs intended for direct use as food or feed or for processing;
Liability and redress
SUPPORTS the adoption at MOP 1, in accordance with Article 27 of the Protocol, of a process with respect to the appropriate elaboration of international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress for damage resulting from transboundary movements of GMOs, and making a final report to the meeting of the Parties within four years;
BELIEVES that the appropriate mechanism for this process should be a group of technical and legal experts, the task of which should be to analyse all available information, with a view to building consensus on the nature and content of international rules and procedures on liability and redress, starting with the notion of "damage resulting from transboundary movements" of GMOs, and making a final report to the Meeting of the Parties within four years;
CONSIDERS that an international regime on liability and redress should be based on the Polluter Pays Principle with the primary objectives of preventing damage and, when damage occurs, providing for primary restoration of the damage;
Relationship with non-Parties
ENCOURAGES all States to ratify the Protocol and to respect its objectives in the meantime; and CONSIDERS that a decision at MOP 1 is necessary to provide guidance to Parties on their relationship with non-Parties regarding transboundary movements of GMOs which are consistent with the objectives of the Protocol;
EMPHASISES the importance of capacity building in meeting the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition as an essential element for implementation of the Protocol, particularly as regards decision making, information sharing, risk assessment, risk management and the promotion and facilitation of means of informing all relevant stakeholders and the general public about measures for the safe transfer, handling and use of GMOs, including consultation on such measures;
NOTES that different entities such as the GEF and its implementing agencies, the CBD Secretariat, bilateral and multilateral donors, Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs), regional networks, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the private sector and scientific/academic institutions all have a role in capacity building for biosafety; and AFFIRMS that there should be a co-ordinated approach towards capacity building in order to develop possible synergies among different donors and organisations contributing to the effective implementation of the Cartagena Protocol;
Information sharing and the Biosafety Clearing House
UNDERLINES the importance of a fully operational and globally accessible Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) for the exchange of information in the area of the safe transfer, handling and use of GMOs as another essential element for the implementation of the Protocol and increasing the capacity of Parties and non-Parties in implementing the Protocol in line with its objectives;
SUPPORTS the development of a register for unique identification codes to be placed under the Biosafety Clearing House;
Decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Protocol
CONSIDERS that the development of guidance on risk assessment and risk management and the adoption of a unique identification system for GMOs are of fundamental importance for effective decision-making by the Party of import and, therefore, for the implementation of the Protocol;
INVITES MOP 1 to establish appropriate procedures for the collection and diffusion of information on risk assessment and risk management, with a view to the preparation of guidance on risk assessment and risk management."
2003 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY REVIEW - Council Conclusions
The Council adopted the following Conclusions:
RECALLING the interest, already expressed in its conclusions on 4 March 2002 and confirmed by the Spring European Council in March 2003, for an annual environment report, REITERATES the need to reflect the results of the EPR in the analysis presented in the Spring Report;
TAKES NOTE of the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament "2003 Environment Policy Review" (EPR), in the light of the new political context of the EU environmental policy since the adoption of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) in 2001, and CONSIDERS that the EPR could become a key instrument for the monitoring and the evaluation of the implementation of the 6th Environment Action Programme (EAP) and should also contribute to the Spring European Council and the SDS review, i.a. by providing a good basis for the different Council formations in reviewing the implementation of sustainable development targets;
CONSIDERS the EPR a first constructive attempt to outline a general picture of the EU environmental policy. In particular the Council LOOKS FORWARD to the forthcoming communications of the Commission on the WSSD follow-up, the Environment Technology Action Plan, the stocktaking of the national SDS and of the Cardiff process, including an analysis on how to relaunch this process, all of which are planned for the beginning of 2004, as well as the 2004 SDS Review;
NOTES with great concern the indications of the EPR that negative trends since 2001, especially in areas such as climate change, energy and transport as well as biodiversity, have not been reversed, and that further EU and national measures are necessary in order to meet key EU sustainable development targets. To this end, the Council REAFFIRMS that the objectives set out in the 6th EAP should be taken into account in future financial perspective reviews of Community financial instruments.
RECONFIRMS the need to strengthen the environmental dimension of the Lisbon process with a view to achieving economic, social and environmental renewal and NOTES that the contribution of the environment to the Lisbon goals merits further exploration; UNDERLINES therefore the need to ensure a timely and coordinated adoption of relevant communications by the Commission;
UNDERLINES the need to further clarify, inter alia within the 2004 SDS Review, the interaction between the Lisbon strategy and the EU SDS and to actively implement the Cardiff process and the 6th EAP, with a view to better integrate the environmental protection requirements into the broader framework of the Community policies and promote the synergies between the respective pillars of sustainable development;
CONSIDERS these conclusions to be the result of a preliminary assessment of the EPR and, taking into account the report's value and complexity, will endeavour to further examine its specific contents and to adopt more detailed conclusions as a contribution to the preparation of the 2004 Spring European Council."
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) - Public deliberation
The Council took note of Commissioner WALLSTRÖM's presentation of the legislative proposals for a Regulation and a Directive concerning the REACH system (15409/03) and of the Presidency's progress report (15161/1/03), as well as the comments of several delegations. Delegations welcomed the presentation of the proposals in the Council and stressed the need to take into account both environmental and competitiveness aspects.
The Council welcomed the intention of the Irish Presidency to give a high priority to the examination of these proposals during the first half of 2004.
FUTURE FINANCING OF ENVIRONMENTAL INSTRUMENTS (life)
The Council held an exchange of views on the Commission proposal (14716/03) to extend Regulation (EC) No 1655/2000 concerning the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE) for a two-year period, from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2006, and on future arrangements for the financing of the EU's environmental policies. Several delegations stressed the importance of rapid adoption of the proposal, and of the Commission making early proposals regarding the regime that would apply from 2007 onwards.
Some delegations argued that any future financial instrument for the environment should have a larger budget and wider scope, in particular to contribute to the financing of NATURA 2000.
Commissioner WALLSTRÖM explained that the current proposal was intended to fill the gap between the end of the current LIFE regime in 2004 and the new post-2006 financial perspective. The Commission would make proposals for the latter shortly.
EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
The Council took note of the information provided by the Commission concerning its report on the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The Council agreed to come back to this issue and to conclude its review of the progress of the EEA's tasks under the Irish Presidency.
Commissioner WALLSTRÖM indicated that the Commission had concluded its report with a positive assessment of the Agency's performance. She underlined the vital role of the EEA in shaping environmental policies and noted that this report would be available to the Council within days.
According to the Council Regulation creating the EEA, the Council shall review the progress of the tasks undertaken by the EEA not later than 31 December 2003 on the basis of a report by the Commission.
The work of the EEA includes collecting and analysing shared environmental data from the European Commission, EEA member countries, international organisations and conventions.
The Council took note of information provided by the Commission on the aim of and necessity for INSPIRE and the state of play concerning the initiative. INSPIRE is an infrastructure set up to provide public geographical information related to the environment. Currently, access to this information is hampered by technical incompatibility between different sources. INSPIRE is also seen as a prerequisite for GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).
The Council took note of information provided by the Commission on the present state of preparation for the strategy. The interim Communication on this item will be adopted by the Commission before the end of January 2004. The final thematic strategy is scheduled to be adopted by July 2005. The Commission invites the Member States to participate in technical working groups of experts, which will be organised in 2004.
The Council took note of information from the Commission and the German delegation on the state of play concerning the CO2 car emission strategy. The strategy's aim is to reduce CO2 emissions from transport. The automotive industry (EAMA/JAMA) committed itself to an emission figure of 140g CO2/km by 2008/9, which the Commission expects to be met. The Community objective is to further reduce the emissions to 120g CO2/km by 2012.
The German delegation referred to a self-assessment report from the EAMA(1), which seemed to indicate that the industry might not meet the targets set for 2008. The German delegation stressed the importance of exploring ways of meeting these targets.
Commissioner WALLSTRÖM acknowledged that the EAMA and JAMA's report had listed a number of constraining factors.
She underlined that the Commission would look carefully at the report in order to see if the Community's targets could still be met. She did not exclude alternative measures if the voluntary agreement would not work.
Over lunch, the Council took note of information from the Commission concerning a communication to be adopted on progress in implementing the WSSD commitments in the EU, as well as from the CSD 12 Chair, the Norwegian Minister for the Environment, on preparations for the 12th session, with the clear ambition of making it as practical and solution-oriented as possible (16121/03).
The Council took note of written information from the Greek delegation underlining that Greece is committed to continue assisting the process of promoting the EU Water Initiative and leading efforts in the Mediterranean Region (16031/03) .
The Council took note of written information on current activities and key projects (16109/03) from the Slovenian delegation as Slovenia holds the AII Presidency from May 2003 to May 2004.
The Council took note of information from the Swedish delegation urging Member States and acceding States to support the application for the Baltic Sea to be classified as a particularly sensitive sea area when it is examined at the 51st meeting of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) (29/03-02/04/2004).
The Council took note of written information from the Luxembourg delegation echoing the Belgian note on this item at the last Environment Council on 27 October 2003 and offering some further information on this topic (16270/03). Luxembourg, supported by the Netherlands and Belgian delegations, calls upon the EU to take action in an economic and ecologically feasible way and in the framework of existing international treaties.
The Council took note of written information from the French delegation with regard to a Protocol adopted in May 2003 in the IMO framework, according to which the ceiling on the compensation fund for victims of oil pollution will rise to EUR 920 million (16194/03). The decision will only come into force if at least 8 States participating in the fund ratify the protocol and oil imports in these States amount to 450 million tonnes. The fund will not cover accidents occurring during the winter of 2003/04. France, supported by the Spanish and Portuguese delegations, urged Member States to ratify quickly in order to avoid the whole of 2004 remaining uncovered.
ITEMS APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
The Council authorised the President of the Council to sign a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the signing of legislative texts adopted under the codecision procedure. The MoU, submitted by the President of the European Parliament following contacts between the EP and Council Secretariats, follows the interinstitutional Agreement on "Better Lawmaking" agreed by the Council on 13 October and signed on 16 December 2003 in Strasbourg. It outlines the procedure relating to the signing and publication of legislative acts adopted under the codecision procedure.
Outermost regions - The system of dock dues - Council conclusions
(16187/1/03 REV 1)
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
" THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
the particular handicaps of the outermost regions recognised by the Treaty,
the importance of specific measures to support their socio-economic development,
the Seville European Council's request that the Council and the Commission complete certain priority proceedings, in particular the question of dock dues in the French overseas departments,
CONSIDERS IT DESIRABLE that the continuity of the dock dues arrangements should be ensured during the period between 1 January 2004 and 30 June 2004, with a view to the forthcoming decision on those arrangements;
INTENDS TO EXAMINE as soon as possible the Commission proposal regarding the future of those arrangements, taking account in particular of the principles of necessity and proportionality."
European Data Protection Supervisor
The Council adopted a joint Decision with the European Parliament concerning the Appointment of the European Data Protection Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor.
In accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 42 of Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and in Decision No 1247/2002/EC, Parliament and Council bodies have reached common accord on the choice of Mr Peter Johan HUSTINX as European Data Protection Supervisor and of Mr Joaquin BAYO DELGADO as Assistant Data Protection Supervisor. They are appointed for a term of five years, with effect from the date of publication of this Decision.
Fight against terrorism Updating of the list of terrorist organisations
(16228/03 and 16229/03)
The Council decided to update the EU list of terrorist organisations and persons linked to terrorist activities, which was first adopted in December 2001 in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 11 September and last updated on 12 September 2003.
It did so by approving the following two acts:
The measures include:
- the freezing of funds and other financial assets or economic resources for the persons and entities specified,
- ensuring that funds, financial assets or economic resources or financial or other related services will not be made available, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of these persons, groups and entities,
- police and judicial cooperation between Member States.
The acts, including the updated list, will be published in the Official Journal on Wednesday 24 December 2003.
Burma/Myanmar - restrictive measures
The Council adopted a Decision implementing Common Position 2003/297/CFSP on Burma/Myanmar(6). The decision updates the list of persons subject to restrictive measures (visa ban, freezing of assets) in view of the appointment of new members of the government of Burma/Myanmar.
Relations with Israel - EC-Israel agricultural trade liberalisation
The Council adopted a Decision on the conclusion of an Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures and the replacement of Protocols N° 1 (imports into the Community of agricultural products originating in Israel) and 2 (imports into Israel of agricultural products originating in the Community) to the EC-Israel Association Agreement.
The EC-Israel Association Agreement, which has been in force since 1 June 2000, provides that the EC and Israel shall progressively establish greater liberalisation of their trade in agricultural products of interest to both parties.
Relations with ACP States and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
The Council adopted a Decision laying down, for the financial year 2004, the schedule of calls for contributions from Member States to the ninth European Development fund.
The contributions, for a total of EUR 2.44 bn, are to be paid in three instalments.
ACP - Haiti
The Council adopted a Decision extending the period of application of the measures in Decision 2001/131/EC concluding consultations with Haiti under Article 96 of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement.
On 29 January 2001, the Council decided to take appropriate measures following the conclusion of consultations held with Haiti under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement (Council Decision 2001/131/EC(7)), in the absence of a satisfactory solution to remedy the violation of the Haitian electoral law. The measures have been extended twice, for twelve-month periods, and expire on 31 December 2003.
The Decision taken on 22 December, following a Commission proposal, extends the measures for a further twelve months. It notes that democratic principles are still not being upheld in Haiti but recognises that numerous international and local efforts are contributing towards the search for a solution to the crisis, in particular those of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Development - Environment - International Agreement on Tropical Timber
The Council adopted a Decision on the Community's position at the International Timber Council on the extension of the International Agreement on Tropical Timber (1994). The EC position will be in favour of a three-year extension of the IATT. The Agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 1996, is due to expire on 31 December 2003.
EC-Belarus - trade in textile products
The Council adopted a Decision on the provisional application, as from 1 January 2004 and pending the completion of the procedures required for its conclusion, of a bilateral Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Belarus on trade in textile products. The Agreement provides for the renewal for one year of the existing bilateral EC-Belarus Agreement and protocols on trade in textile products, with quantitative limits adjusted to take into account annual growth rates and EU enlargement.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - trade in agricultural products
The Council adopted a decision on a Community position concerning a Decision of the EC-former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Cooperation Council implementing further liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fisheries products. The interim EC-FYROM trade Agreement of 2001 provides that the parties shall examine the opportunities for granting each other further concessions with a view to implementing greater liberalisation of trade in agriculture and fisheries products. Following negotiations in 2002-2003, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will further liberalise or grant preferences for imports of agricultural (including processed agricultural) and fisheries products originating in the Community.
Romania - trade in fisheries products *
(16189/03 and 8510/1/03 REV 1)
The Council adopted a Decision on the conclusion of an additional Protocol to the Europe Agreement establishing an association between the EC and its Member States of the one part, and Romania of the other part, laying down arrangements on trade in certain fish and fisheries products. The decision follows technical negotiations successfully concluded between the EC and Romania on reciprocal tariff concessions in the fisheries sector.
Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe
The Council adopted a Decision re-appointing Dr Erhard Busek as Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe and setting out his mandate, which was previously laid down in Joint Action 2002/964/CFSP. The decision applies until 31 December 2004.
The Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe was launched in June 1999.
Promotion of reciprocal understanding
The Council adopted a Decision establishing a Community action programme for bodies promoting reciprocal understanding of relations between the European Union and certain regions of the world. The action will aim at increasing understanding and dialogue between the EU and the regions covered by the ALA, MEDA, TACIS and CARDS Regulations and the candidate countries. The financial reference amount for 2004-2006 will be EUR 4.1 million.
Relations with Morocco Liberalisation measures
The Council adopted a Decision approving an Agreement between the Community and Morocco on reciprocal liberalisation measures and the replacement of protocols to the ECMorocco Association Agreement regarding Community imports of agricultural products from Morocco, imports of tomatoes into the Community and Moroccan imports of agricultural products from the Community.
Relations with GuineaBissau Consultations
The Council approved on 19 December the text of a letter to be sent at the beginning of January by the Council and the Commission to the Prime Minister of GuineaBissau, inviting GuineaBissau to consultations to examine the situation in the country following the coup d'état in September.
The aim is for the consultations to be held in Brussels as soon as possible in January, in accordance with the Partnership Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the Community and its Member States.
Justice and Home affairs
Immigration - Council conclusions
(15998/1/03 REV 1)
The Council adopted conclusions on assistance in cases of short-term transit by land or sea through the territory of another Member State in the course of effecting a removal order adopted by a Member State against a third-country national in the framework of the operational cooperation among Member States, as follows :
"The Council noting that:
- The Council Recommendation of 22 December 1995 on concerted action and cooperation in carrying out removal measures (8) and the Decision of the Executive Committee of 21 April 1998 on cooperation between the Contracting Parties in returning third-country nationals by air (SCH/Comex (98) 10) (9) already address the need for cooperation between Member States in the field of removal by air of third-country nationals.
- It is necessary to strengthen mutual support and assistance among Member States in implementing return and readmission measures in cases of transit by air, sea and land, taking into account the objectives defined by the Comprehensive Plan to combat illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings in the European Union(10), approved by the Council on 28 February 2002, and by the Plan for the management of the external borders of the European Union approved by the Council on 13 June 2002, which were confirmed by the Return Action Programme approved by the Council on 28 November 2002.
- With a view to implementing the above instruments, Council Directive 2003/..../EC on assistance in cases of transit for the purposes of removal by air has laid down specific rules in this area,
II. The Council considers that:
It is important to complement the framework established by Council Directive 2003/..../EC on assistance in cases of transit for the purposes of removal by air, which has laid down specific rules in this area, by strengthening operational cooperation among the national authorities of the Member States, including cases of short-term transit through the territory of other Member States. The notion of transit through the territory should be interpreted widely, covering transit by land, via all the appropriate means of transport, and transfer via seaports of the Member States using regular sealinks.
(2) In all circumstances, a Member State should have recourse to transit through the territory of another Member State only in exceptional cases, where the removal of the persons concerned from its territory via a direct or transit flight, which remains the main means for removal, or via direct regular sea-links, is not possible or is more difficult from the organisational point of view.
(3) The transit through the territory may prove to be very useful in cases where removal of a third country national may be more efficiently and rapidly implemented by transporting the persons concerned to the airport or seaport of a neighbouring Member State, where there is an immediate direct connection with the country of destination. Moreover, transit through the territory of another Member State may also help to avoid lengthy and difficult administrative procedures in cases of transit through the territory of third countries, such as the request and granting of authorisation for transit. These difficulties may also arise if there are bilateral agreements between the Member State which is implementing the removal and these third countries.
III. For these reasons the Council encourages Member States to make arrangements to facilitate short-term transit through their territory.
Where a Member State decides to have recourse to transit through the territory of another Member State, which should be in all cases with an escort by staff of the implementing Member State, the transit operations cannot be implemented without prior consent from the Member State where the transit would take place.
The Member State which is implementing the transit operations (hereinafter referred to as the "requesting Member State") should make and maintain appropriate contacts with the competent authorities of the Member State through which the transit is planned to take place (hereinafter referred to as the "requested Member State") during the organisation phase of the transit operations as well as during its implementation and after its completion. In particular, the requesting Member State should communicate the details concerning the time and place of the transit operations.
The requesting Member State should be responsible for the completion of the transit operations, until the arrival of the person concerned in the country of destination, and its escorts should under all circumstances comply with the legislation of the requested Member State.
The costs of the transit operations should be compensated among Member States on the basis of appropriate financial arrangements, which may take into account, in particular, the criteria defined in Community legislation in the area of return of third country nationals.
The transit operation should be implemented in full compliance with international obligations and in particular those arising from the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees of 28 July 1951, as amended by the New York Protocol of 31 January 1967, from international conventions on human rights and fundamental freedoms and from international conventions on the extradition of persons.
IV. With a view to facilitating transit operations, the Council encourages the requested Member States to consider providing the following assistance measures:
(a) escorts to assist the transit operations, in accordance with their national legislation,
(b) accommodation and sustenance, where necessary, to the third-country nationals concerned and to the escorts, as well as emergency medical assistance and assistance in the event of incidents."
The Council agreed on the work programme of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for the 20042006 period.
The Council also highlighted the crucial work of the EMCDDA in providing to the Community institutions and bodies and the Member States objective, reliable and comparable information at European level concerning drug and drug addiction and their consequences, and stressed the priority of activities in the field of comparable data, key indicators and enlargement. International action should take place within the framework of Regulation (EEC) no 302/93 and the amendment adopted by the Council on 28 September 2000 as well as within agreed mandates.
Visa - Common Manual and Common Consular Instructions
(15870/03, 15582/03, 14701/03 and 14375/03)
In the context of the visa arrangements, the Council adopted several decisions concerning the Common Consular Instructions and the Common Manual.
The Council took note of the annual Presidency report (2003) to the Council on the implementation of the joint Programme of the Council and the Commission, of 20 December 2002, to improve cooperation in the European Union for preventing and limiting the consequences of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear terrorist threats.
The report concludes that in 2003 the Commission has confirmed that it is committed and ready to take all measures within its competence with a view to preparing for, preventing and limiting the consequences chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism may have, primarily for the population, but also for the environment, for the food chain and for property.
In this context, in 2004 the Commission will continue to regularly review the programme and to give priority to the implementation of all Community instruments that contribute to preventing and limiting the consequences of CBRN terrorist threats.
Civil Protection Research - Council Resolution
The Council adopted a Resolution on strengthening Community cooperation in the field of civil protection research.
According to this Resolution, the Council calls on the Commission and Member States to:
1. promote the development of research projects on the reduction of natural and technological risks and on the mitigation of related accidents, developing the widest possible cooperation between the relevant actors;
2. to that end, encourage research institutes and other relevant entities to work towards common civil protection objectives aiming at improving protection from natural or technological risks for Europe's citizens, making use of the possibilities offered by the Sixth Framework Research Programme;
3. reinforce the actions in the field of research undertaken under Decision 2001/792/EC,Euratom
4. foster links between researchers and those involved in civil protection.
Report on terrorist activity
(15877/2/03 REV 2)
The Council approved a report on terrorist activity in the European Union from October 2002 to October 2003 and decided to forward it to the European Parliament for information.
Combating sexual exploitation of children *
(10748/03 and 15992/03 )
The Council adopted a Framework Decision on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
In accordance with the text of the Framework Decision, each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the following intentional conduct, whether undertaken by means of a computer system or not, when committed without right is punishable:
(a) production of child pornography;
(b) distribution, dissemination or transmission of child pornography;
(c) supplying or making available child pornography;
(d) acquisition or possession of child pornography.
It is recalled that at its meeting on 14 October 2002, the JHA Council agreed on a general approach to the text of the Framework Decision without prejudice to parliamentary reservations by certain delegations.
Report on Bulgaria
The Council took note of the revised country report on Bulgaria.
It is recalled that in the Joint Action of 29 June 1998 (OJ L 191/8 of 7.7.98) the Council established a mechanism for collective evaluation of the enactment, application and effective implementation by the applicant countries of the acquis of the European Union in the field of Justice and Home Affairs. Article 4(1), of the Joint Action calls for the drawing up of evaluation reports on the progress and results of their adaptation to the acquis.
To date the Council has taken note of a series of country reports on all acceding and candidate countries.
The revised country report on Bulgaria will be used in the framework of the enlargement process with the candidate countries.
Taxation of parent companies and subsidiaries*
(15637/03 + ADD 1 and 15621/03)
The Council adopted a Directive amending Directive 90/435/EEC on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States.
The objective of Directive 90/435 is to exempt dividends and other profit distributions paid by subsidiary companies to their parent companies from withholding taxes and to eliminate double taxation of such income at the level of the parent company. The objective of the amending proposal is to extend the scope to other entities which can carry out cross-border activities in the Community and which meet all the conditions laid down in Directive 90/435.
Reduced VAT rates - Council conclusions
The Council adopted conclusions on the extension of Annex K for reduced VAT rates for labour intensive services, as follows:
"The Council unanimously agrees to amend Directive 77/388/EEC so as to extend the time period allowing certain Member States to apply reduced rates of VAT to certain labour intensive services by two years, and to extend the period of application of Council Decision 2000/185/EC authorising certain Member States to apply a reduced rate of VAT to certain labour intensive services also for two years. The Council will finalise the texts once the Opinions of the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee are available."
(15569/1/03 REV 1)
The Council adopted a Decision authorising the United Kingdom to apply measures derogating from Articles 28e(1), 6 and 17 of the Sixth Directive (77/388/EEC), providing for the extension until 31 December 2006 of Council Decisions 98/23/EC and 97/375/EC, the extension until 31 December 2004 of Council Decision 98/198/EC and, as regards Decision 97/375/EC, the increase in the turnover limit for simplified cash accounting from GBP 600 000 to 660 000.
OLAF - Council conclusions
The Council adopted conclusions on the Commission progress report as follows:
" The Council:
1. TAKES COGNISANCE of the progress report submitted by the Commission; notes that it is not a full progress report containing an in-depth analysis, particularly in quantitative terms, of OLAF's activities during its first three years in operation, which would have provided the elements needed for an evaluation of the progress achieved in protecting the Communities' financial interests;
REQUESTS that the report be completed at the latest by the end of 2004, examining the actual results achieved since the creation of OLAF in addition to the aspects linked to the legislative and statutory framework and OLAF's tasks already dealt with by the Commission, and welcomes the Supervisory Committee's willingness to take part; in order to have a complete view of OLAF's operation, the Council also recommends conducting an external management audit on OLAF within two years at the latest;
CONSIDERS that, after a transitional setting-up period, OLAF needs to complete this phase and embark on a stabilisation phase to carry out the tasks entrusted to it; the Council will assess OLAF's situation in the light of future reports in particular; the Council notes that the Commission intends to submit proposals regarding OLAF;
2. RECALLS that it must also be able to assess OLAF's structural capacity to fulfil the tasks set by the legislator, particularly when enlargement to ten new Member States takes effect;
3. NOTES the measures taken by OLAF, in cooperation with the Member States, as part of the work which it considers essential to strengthening the protection of the Communities' financial interests and combating fraud; stresses the importance it attaches to the administrative investigation activities entrusted to OLAF; regards as useful the two-fold nature of OLAF's functions concerning, on the one hand, investigation activities and, on the other, general responsibilities for drawing up strategies and legal proposals; asks OLAF to continue its efforts in this area;
4. WELCOMES with interest the opinion of OLAF's Supervisory Committee, which provides a useful assessment of OLAF's progress in achieving the objectives set by the legislator and stresses the importance of the Supervisory Committee's work in terms of its role in monitoring OLAF's investigative function; asks the Supervisory Committee to continue its work towards guaranteeing OLAF's independence;
NOTES the importance which OLAF attaches to the development of its abilities to serve the Member States within the framework of its "service platform" project; attaches considerable importance to OLAF's continued introduction and development of its strategic and operational intelligence function, particularly by stepping up risk analysis in all areas of the Communities' financial interests for the purposes of strengthening cooperation with the Member States;
6. STRESSES the importance of continuing the work conducted within the Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Fraud Prevention (COCOLAF) with the aim of improving the protection of the Communities' financial interests;
7. UNDERLINES the vital importance which the Regulations attach to the implementation of internal and external administrative investigations; asks OLAF to take the appropriate measures for better supervision of its administrative investigations. For that purpose, the Council stresses the value of OLAF developing internal procedures specifying implementing arrangements for acts and measures relating to internal and external investigations. Furthermore, the Council emphasises the importance of observing the rules on the protection of fundamental rights;
8. CONSIDERS that OLAF should, with due regard for the new Staff Regulations, draw up specific arrangements in terms of staff policy and management to enable the flexibility which it needs in view of its specific situation;
9. ASKS OLAF to establish its programme of activities taking into account the recommendations of the Supervisory Committee; stresses the importance of ensuring an appropriate balance between internal and external investigations; in this context, supports a strengthening of investigations into expenditure administered directly by the Commission;
10. ATTACHES considerable importance to relevant information both at the level of the institutions and in relation to the Member States; recommends that OLAF consider introducing procedures for information exchange to that end; asks OLAF to submit a list concerning follow-up to the outcome of investigations based on whether that outcome is of an administrative, disciplinary or penal nature;
11. EMPHASISES that all matters which might relate to the areas of justice and home affairs should be considered in the appropriate forum."
Quarterly financial accounts *- Public deliberation
The Council, in the framework of the codecision procedure with the European Parliament, adopted its Common Position regarding the proposal for a Regulation on quarterly financial accounts.
The proposal provides for a harmonised framework for the provision of quarterly data on the financial accounts of general government. Alongside the Regulation on quarterly non-financial accounts for general government(11), it provides for extensive data on financial and non-financial developments in the government sector, facilitating improved economic policy analysis at both euro area and EU level.
These objectives fall within the scope of the EMU Statistics Action Plan.
Common Agricultural Policy
The Council reached political agreement on the following texts:
Anti-dumping - Russia - urea
The Council adopted a Regulation terminating the partial interim review of the anti-dumping measures applicable to imports of urea originating in Russia. The Regulation terminates the review without amending the anti-dumping duty in force since the adoption in May 2001 of Council Regulation (EC) N° 901/2001(12).
Anti-dumping - Russia - silicon
The Council adopted a Regulation imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty and collecting definitely the provisional duty imposed on imports of silicon originating in Russia. The rate of the duty applicable will be between 22.7 and 23.6%.
Ultraperipheral Areas *
(15371/03 and 15390/03+ADD 1)
The Council adopted a Regulation introducing a scheme to compensate for the additional costs incurred in the marketing of certain fishery products from the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and the French departments of Guyana and Réunion as a result of those regions' remoteness. The compensation is granted to the producers and the owners or operators of vessels registered in these territories.
The Regulation will be applicable retroactively from 1 January 2003 until 31 December 2006.
The Commission entered a statement.
EC/MOZAMBIQUE FISHERIES AGREEMENT
The Council unanimously adopted a Regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Mozambique.
This Agreement foresees the allocation of Total Allowable Catches for Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and France in the fishing zones of Mozambique, mostly for deep-water shrimp and crustaceans. This Agreement is applicable for a period of three years. The amount of the financial compensation is fixed at € 4 090 000 a year, mainly in order to finance the monitoring of marine fisheries (€ 1 500 000), institutional development (€ 1 000 000), research (€ 1 000 000) and training (€ 430 000).
The Council adopted a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1255/96 temporarily suspending the autonomous common customs tariff duties on certain industrial, agricultural and fishery products.
SECOND RAILWAY PACKAGE
The Council did not approve the European Parliament's second reading amendments regarding the four proposals (3 Directives and 1 Regulation) on the Community's railways. Consequently the Conciliation Committee is convened in accordance with Article 251(3) of the TEC.
European Development Fund Member State contributions
(15514/03 and 15560/03)
The Council adopted by qualified majority a Decision establishing financial contributions for 2004 to be paid by the Member States for development policy actions in favour of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, as well as the overseas countries and territories, under the European Development Fund.
The German delegation voted against the Decision.
The Council also adopted a Decision establishing the first instalment of contributions to be paid to the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The total of contributions amounts to EUR 2,44 billion, of which EUR 850 million comes under the first instalment; a table setting out the first instalment is to be found in annex to 15514/03.
EDUCATION AND CULTURE
Action programme in the field of education and training - Public deliberation
The Council adopted a Common Position with a view to the adoption of a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Community action programme to promote bodies active at European level and support specific activities in the field of education and training.
The financial framework for the period 2004-2006 is EUR 77 million. The programme is aimed in particular at supporting institutions pursuing an aim of general European interest such as the College of Europe (Bruges), the European University Institute (Florence), the European Institute of Public Administration (Maastricht), the Academy of European Law (Trier), the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation and the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education.
Action programme in the field of youth - Public deliberation
The Council adopted a Common Position with a view to the adoption of a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Community action programme to promote bodies active at European level in the field of youth.
The financial framework for the period 2004-2006 is EUR 13 million. The programme is aimed at supporting the activities of the European Youth Forum and other bodies pursuing an aim of general European interest in the field of youth.
Action programme in the field of culture - Public deliberation
The Council adopted a Common Position with a view to the adoption of a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Community action programme to promote bodies active at European level in the field of culture.
The financial framework for the period 2004-2006 is EUR 19 million. The programme is aimed at supporting the activities of bodies pursuing an aim of general European interest in the field of culture.
The Council approved the amendments adopted by the European Parliament and signified its agreement to the text of the Directive, as contained in 15476/03, with a view to its formal adoption, following finalisation of the texts by the legal/linguistic experts.
The European Parliament delivered its Opinion on 16 December 2003, adopting 30 amendments to the Commission proposal. These amendments are in conformity with the general approach agreed by the Council.
It is recalled that on 27 November 2003 the Council reached unanimous agreement, with the abstention of the Spanish delegation, on a general approach to the draft Directive on takeover bids, based on a compromise text presented by the Italian Presidency. (cf. 15141/03)
The Commission stated on that occasion that it was not in a position to support the text. Given the existing differences between legal systems in the Member States, the Council decided to limit this Directive to a framework of certain common principles and a number of general requirements which Member States will have to respect through detailed implementing rules.
EC / SWITZERLAND Cooperation Agreement
The Council adopted a Decision of the Council and the Commission on the signature on behalf of the European Community and of the European Atomic Energy Community of the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the European Communities and the Swiss Confederation.
This agreement is based on the principles laid down in its predecessor, in particular with regard to the contribution from the Swiss Confederation to the budgets for the Sixth (EC and Euratom) Framework Programmes. Subject to reciprocity, the Agreement shall be applied on a provisional basis as from 1 January 2004 pending the completion of the procedures for its conclusion.
EC / MOROCCO Cooperation Agreement - EC / TUNISIA Cooperation Agreement
(15786/03 and 15789/03)
The Council adopted the Decisions on the Conclusion of the Agreement on Scientific and Technological cooperation between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco and between the European Community and the Republic of Tunisia.
The purpose of both Agreements is to encourage, develop and facilitate cooperative scientific and technological activities between the Parties in fields of common interest where they are pursuing scientific research and technological development activities.
The cooperative activities should, in particular, be conducted on the basis of principles such as the promotion of a knowledge-based society for the benefit of the economic and social development of the two Parties, mutual benefit based on an overall balance of advantages, reciprocal access to activities under the scientific research and technological development programmes and projects undertaken by each Party in the fields covered by the Agreement.
Control of high activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources *
(14946/03 and 10487/03)
The Council adopted a Directive on the control of high activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources.
The aim of this Directive is to prevent exposure of workers and the public to ionising radiation arising from inadequate control of high activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources and to harmonise controls in place in the Member States by defining specific requirements ensuring that each such source is kept under control.
For the purposes of this Directive, "high activity source" means a sealed source containing a radionuclide whose activity at the time of manufacture or, if this is not known, of the first placing on the market is equal to or exceeds the relevant activity level specified in Annex I of the Directive. "Orphan source" means a sealed source the activity level of which, at the time of its discovery, is above the exemption level referred to in Article 3(2)(a) of Directive 96/29/Euratom(13), and which is not under regulatory control either because it has never been under regulatory control or because it has been abandoned, lost, misplaced, stolen or transferred, without proper notification of the competent authority, to a new holder or without informing the recipient.
The Council and the Commission, the Commission and Germany entered statements.
EURATOM - Renewal of the Scientific and Technical Committee
The Council adopted the Decision appointing the members of the Euratom Scientific and Technical Committee. In accordance with the provisions of Article 134 of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, the Commission has been consulted and has expressed a favourable opinion on the relevant proposals made by the Member States.
Economic and Social Committee
The Council adopted a Decision appointing Ms Leila KURKI as a member of the Economic and Social Committee in place of Mr Martti REUNA for the remainder of the latter's term of office, which runs until 20 September 2006.
(1) EAMA : European Automobile Manufacturers Association.
(2) OJ L 344, 28.12.2001, p.93.
(3) OJ L 229, 13.9.2003, p.42.
(4) OJ L 344, 28.12.2001, p.70.
(5) OJ L 229, 13.9.2003, p.22.
(6) OJ L 106, 29.4.2003, p.36.
(7) OJ L 48, 17.2.2001, p.31.
(8) OJ C 5, 10.1.1996, p. 3.
(9) OJ L 239, 22.9.2000, p. 193.
(10) OJ C 142, 14.6.2002, p. 23.
(11) Regulation (EC) No 1221/2002, 10 June 2002 , OJ L179/1, 9 July 2002
(12) OJ L 127, 9.5.2001, p. 11.
(13) Council Directive 96/29/Euratom of 13 May 1996 laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation.