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2632nd Council Meeting
Environment
Brussels, 20 December 2004

European Council - PRES/04/357   20/12/2004

Other available languages: FR DE DA ES IT SV PT FI EL

[Graphic in PDF & Word format]


COUNCIL OF
THE EUROPEAN UNION

EN

C/04/357

Brussels, 20 December 2004

15962/04 (Presse 357)

PRESS RELEASE

2632nd Council Meeting
Environment
Brussels, 20 December 2004

President Pieter VAN GEEL
State Secretary for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment

of the Netherlands

Main results of the Council
The Council adopted a Decision establishing financial contributions for 2005 to the European Development Fund (EDF) in order to finance aid projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and Member State overseas countries and territories as well as a Decision extending an EU programme against natural disasters until the end of 2006.
The Council further adopted a common position on a draft Directive on bathing water quality.
The Council also reached political agreement on:
- a draft Directive on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators;
- a draft Regulation on the application of the provisions of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) to the European Community institutions and bodies;
- a draft Decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the Aarhus Convention.

CONTENTS1

PARTICIPANTS 5

ITEMS DEBATED

AARHUS CONVENTION 7

BATTERIES AND ACCUMULATORS 8

CHEMICALS (REACH) 9

GENETICALLY MODIFIED OILSEED RAPE 10

CLIMATE CHANGE 11

LISBON STRATEGY 14

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY (SDS) 14

FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT (LIFE +) 15

UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL 15

MARINE ENVIRONMENT 16

OTHER BUSINESS 18

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

ENVIRONMENT

Bathing water* 19

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY

Crisis management operations - Agreement with Bulgaria 19

Crisis management operations - Agreement with Switzerland 19

TRADE POLICY

Steel products - Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine 19

DEVELOPMENT POLICY

European Development Fund – Financial contribution for 2005 20

ENLARGEMENT

Croatia - Pre-accession strategy - Financial and technical assistance 20

SECURITY REGULATIONS

Inspection programme for 2005 20

CIVIL PROTECTION

Natural disasters - Extension of the EU action programme 21

FISHERIES

Deep-sea species - New Member States * 21

Fishing Convention on Fishing in the Baltic Sea and Belts - EU enlargement 21

PARTICIPANTS

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium:

Ms Evelyne HUYTEBROECK Minister of the Brussels Capital Regional Government, with responsibility for the Environment, Energy and Water Policy

Mr Bruno TOBBACK Minister for the Environment and Minister for Pensions

Czech Republic:

Mr Libor AMBROZEK Minister for the Environment

Denmark:

Ms Connie HEDEGAARD Minister for the Environment

Germany:

Mr Jürgen TRITTIN Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety

Estonia:

Mr Olavi TAMMEMÄE Deputy Minister for the Environment

Greece:

Mr Stavros KALOGIANNIS State Secretary for the Environment, Regional Planning and Public Works

Spain:

Ms Cristina NARBONA RUIZ Minister for the Environment

France:

Mr Serge LEPELTIER Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development

Ireland:

Mr Dick ROCHE Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Italy:

Mr Roberto TORTOLI State Secretary for the Environment and Protection of Natural Resources

Cyprus:

Mr Efthymios EFTHYMIOU Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment

Latvia:

Mr Raimonds VEJONIS Minister for the Environment

Lithuania:

Mr Arūnas KUNDROTAS Minister for the Environment

Luxembourg:

Mr Lucien LUX Minister for the Environment, Minister for Transport

Hungary:

Mr Miklós PERSÁNYI Minister for the Environment and Water Management

Malta:

Mr George PULLICINO Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment

Netherlands:

Mr Pieter VAN GEEL State Secretary for Housing, Planning and the Environment

Austria:

Mr Josef PRÖLL Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, the Environment and Water Management

Poland:

Mr Krysztof SZAMALEK State Secretary, Ministry of the Environment

Portugal:

Mr Luís NOBRE GUEDES Minister for the Environment and Regional Planning

Slovenia:

Mr Janez PODOBNIK Minister for the Environment and Spatial Planning

Slovakia:

Mr Peter STANKO State Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment

Finland:

Mr Jan-Erik ENESTAM Minister for the Environment

Sweden:

Ms Lena SOMMESTAD Minister for the Environment

United Kingdom:

Mr Elliot MORLEY Minister of State for the Environment

Commission

Mr Stavros DIMAS Member

ITEMS DEBATED

AARHUS CONVENTION

The Council reached political agreement, with Belgium indicating its intension to vote against and Germany its intention to abstain, on a draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of the provisions of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) to European Community institutions and bodies.

The Council further reached unanimous political agreement on a draft Decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the Aarhus Convention.

After finalisation in all Community languages, both texts will be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting, the first as a Council common position and the second as the final text.

The draft Regulation agreed today is aimed at applying the requirements under the Aarhus Convention to European Community institutions and bodies in particular by:

  • guaranteeing the right of public access to environmental information held by Community institutions and bodies;
  • ensuring that environmental information becomes progressively available by means of electronic databases that are easily accessible to the public;
  • providing for public participation with regard to plans and programmes relating to the environment;
  • granting access to justice in environmental matters at Community level under certain conditions.

The Council was also briefed on the state of play concerning the examination of a proposal for a Directive on access to justice in environmental matters.

The Aarhus Convention, signed by the European Community and most Member States in 1998, consists of three pillars:

  • public access to environmental information;
  • public participation in decision-making processes;
  • public access to justice.

Since 1998, the European Community has undertaken to align Community legislation with the requirements of the Convention.

The Directive on access to information[1] and the Directive on public participation with regard to certain plans and programmes[2] cover the first and the second pillars of the Convention, respectively.

BATTERIES AND ACCUMULATORS

The Council reached political agreement on a draft Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators[3]. Belgium, Greece and Ireland indicated their intention to abstain and Italy stated that it was not in a position to vote in favour.

After finalisation in all Community languages, the text will be adopted in the form of a common position, without further debate, at a forthcoming Council meeting.

Concerning the main issues dealt with in the Council (nickel-cadmium batteries and collection targets), the agreement establishes:

  • a partial ban on portable nickel-cadmium batteries that would not cover batteries used in: (a) medical equipment; (b) emergency lighting and alarm systems and (c) cordless power tools. However, the Commission would have to carry out an early review of the exemption for cordless power tools (within four years of entry into force of the Directive). As a consequence of the ban, there would be no waste stream monitoring requirements for Member States;
  • collection targets for portable batteries set in two stages: 25% of average annual sales, to be achieved 4 years after the date of transposition, rising to 45% 8 years after the date of transposition;
  • a 2-year transposition period for Member States in order to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive, of 2 years.

Environmental concerns related to batteries and accumulators are mainly due to the materials they contain. The main environmental impacts occur during the production and waste management phases. Reducing the quantities of hazardous substances in waste is one of the Community's environmental objectives.

Against this background, the draft Directive aims to achieve a high level of protection of health and environment, by:

  • prohibiting the marketing of certain batteries and accumulators;
  • imposing the separate collection of waste batteries and accumulators, thus significantly reducing the quantities of waste batteries going to disposal and reintroducing the highest possible level of metal wastes into the economic cycle.

As it will avoid divergences between Member States' legislation, the draft Directive would further ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and remove obstacles to the free movement of goods and to competition within the Community.

In order to prevent batteries and accumulators from ending up in the environment and to avoid consumer confusion about the different waste management requirements for different batteries, the draft Directive would cover all batteries and accumulators placed on the Community market.

The proposed Directive would repeal Directives 91/157/EEC, 91/101/EC and 93/86/EEC, replacing them with a single legal instrument.

CHEMICALS (REACH)

The Council held a policy debate on a draft Regulation and a draft Directive on registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) and establishing a European Chemicals Agency.

The debate was aimed at providing general guidance for further work. At the end of the debate, the Presidency summarised as follows:

1. As regards the Workshop on REACH Impact Assessment held in The Hague from 25 to 27 October 2004, the President noted that the Council welcomed the conclusions and recommendations and instructed its preparatory bodies, in cooperation with the Commission, to take account of them in their future work. The Council stressed the importance of avoiding unnecessary testing on animals and underlined the need to improve the protection of human health and the environment while ensuring the competitiveness of the European chemicals industry, in particular of SMEs.

2. On priority-setting in registration, the importance of examining further options in this field was stressed, in particular by addressing substances of very high concern at an early stage. The necessity to explore workable, cost-effective solutions providing sufficient flexibility, while not overburdening the registration phase and providing a level of certainty for industry, was underlined. With this in mind, delegations considered it appropriate to explore a possible extension of priority-setting in the registration phase with the inclusion of potential PBTs and vPvBs.

The Council noted that a risk-based approach, whilst difficult to apply at registration, might be appropriate for subsequent phases of REACH and that should be further analysed. There was general recognition of the need for flexibility, ensuring that in the future appropriate priority is given to emerging or new concerns.

3. The need to regulate substances in finished articles was recognised by some delegations but doubts were expressed as to the workability and the effect on competitiveness of the Commission’s proposal in this field.

Some concern was expressed regarding the registration of dangerous substances intended and/or likely to be released from articles. It was considered to focus on articles containing substances of very high concern in the early stages of REACH.

Concerns were also expressed regarding EU produced articles that might suffer competitive disadvantages compared to importers of articles into the EU. The Council noted the idea of professional customers' “right to know” with regards to dangerous substances in articles as well as a possible role for the Agency in making relevant information available.

The Council instructed its preparatory bodies to examine in greater detail these issues while, besides considerations of cost/effectiveness, taking into account the benefits for human health and the environment of REACH.

The Environment Council already held a policy debate on 28 June 2004 on key issues relating to: (a) authorisations and restrictions; (b) role of substitution; (c) quality assurance of data[4].

In the meantime, the ad hoc Working Party on Chemicals has made substantial progress in the examination of Titles I (general issues), II (registration of substances) and III (data-sharing and avoidance of unnecessary testing) of the draft Regulation. It has to date identified the following key issues for consideration by the Council:

  • Conclusions and recommendations from the REACH Impact Assessment Workshop
  • Mandatory sharing of non-animal data, agreeing core data set and cost-sharing
  • Information requirements for low volume substances
  • Priority-setting in the registration
  • Registration or notification of substances in articles

The Competitiveness Council discussed mainly the first three issues at its meeting on 25 and 26 November 2004[5].

The Community chemicals policy aims at avoiding chemical contamination of air, water, soil and buildings in order to preserve biodiversity and to safeguard workers' and citizens' health and safety. Improved control of persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic substances is of particular importance in this respect.

It is aimed at a sensitive balance between health and environmental benefits and the need to uphold a competitive, innovative and job-creating European industry and the proper functioning of the internal market.

For further details, please see Commission proposal 15409/03.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED OILSEED RAPE

The Council noted that a qualified majority had not been achieved to permit for a decision on the Commission's proposal authorising the placing on the market of an oilseed rape product (Brassica napus L., GT73 line) genetically modified for tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate (12343/04).

In the absence of a Council decision, the Commission will be able to adopt its proposal.

The Netherlands authorities received a notification from Monsanto, SA, concerning the placing on the market of an oilseed rape product (Brassica napus L., GT73 line) genetically modified for tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate.

In February 2004, the European Food Safety Authority delivered its opinion that Brassica napus L., GT73 line was safe for humans and animals and, in the context of the proposed use, for the environment. It also found that the monitoring plan provided by the consent holder was appropriate for the intended uses of GT73 oilseed rape.[6]

In June 2004, the Commission submitted to the regulatory Committee[7] a draft Decision authorising the placing on the Community market of this product. However, the Committee was enable to give an opinion, since no qualified majority was reached.

Therefore, in accordance with the comitology procedure[8], the Commission submitted a proposal for a Council Decision, giving the Council a period of three months to take a decision[9]. A qualified majority is required in the Council to adopt or reject the Commission proposal. Failing a decision by the Council, the act must be adopted by the Commission.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The Council adopted the following conclusions on Climate change: Medium and long-term strategies and targets:

" THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION:

1. WELCOMES the outcome of the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ("the Convention") in Buenos Aires, including the Buenos Aires programme of work on adaptation and response measures and the important decision to start a dialogue among all Parties next year on current and future actions on adaptation and mitigation to respond to climate change; LOOKING FORWARD to engaging with all Parties to the Convention in this dialogue, while reconfirming its support for continuing combating climate change under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention.

2. ACKNOWLEDGES that climate change is one of mankind's greatest challenges, which is likely to have significant negative global environmental, economic and social implications and is expected to impinge negatively on sustainable development and the livelihoods of millions of people all over the world; REAFFIRMS that, with a view to meeting the ultimate objective of the Convention to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, overall global annual mean surface temperature increase should not exceed 2ºC above pre-industrial levels; STRESSES that the Kyoto Protocol is an important first step in the global fight against climate change; EMPHASISES the findings of the IPCC TAR that significant further steps will be necessary to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and limit adverse effects of climate change.

3. NOTES that scientific uncertainties exist in translating a temperature increase of 2ºC into greenhouse gas concentrations and emission paths; however, RECOGNISES that recent scientific research and work under the IPCC indicates that it is unlikely that stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations above 550 ppmv CO2 equivalent would be consistent with meeting the 2°C long-term objective and that in order to have a reasonable chance to limit global warming to no more than 2°C, stabilisation of concentrations well below 550 ppmv CO2 equivalent may be needed; NOTES that keeping this long-term temperature objective within reach will require global greenhouse gas emissions to peak within two decades, followed by substantial reductions in the order of at least 15% and perhaps by as much as 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

4. UNDERLINES that climate change is a global challenge that requires a comprehensive and global response; REAFFIRMS the need to start promptly the consideration of the post 2012 framework within the context of the UN climate change process; LOOKS FORWARD to engaging with all Parties to the UNFCCC in a common and open dialogue on further action in 2005; EMPHASISES its willingness, in the context of a global agreement, to commit to its fair share of the necessary global mitigation efforts.

5. RECOGNISES that decision-making in our societies, not least by the business community, requires a long term global policy perspective to inform investment, guide the development of the appropriate regulatory framework and stimulate investment in technology development and diffusion; NOTES, in view of the global emissions reductions required and if allowance is made for an increase in aggregated greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries in pursuit of sustainable development goals, the necessity of significantly enhanced reduction efforts by all developed countries, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the medium term to be able to meet the long-term emission reduction challenge; EMHASISES the need of proposing medium and long term strategies, including targets at the March 2005 (Environment) Council as a contribution to the 2005 Spring European Council consideration of medium and longer term emission reduction strategies, including targets, taking into account the Commission's report on costs and benefits.

6. RECOGNISES that a global approach should involve broad participation of countries in order to arrive at a post 2012 regime that is environmentally effective, economically efficient and socially equitable and takes into account common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities; EMPHASISES that developed countries should continue to take the lead in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions; UNDERLINES that the EU is already implementing the Kyoto Protocol and URGES developed countries which do not intend to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to make comparable efforts during the first commitment period and to engage constructively in joint consideration of next steps beyond 2012.

7. RECOGNISES that developing countries already undertake actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; NOTES that to stabilise global greenhouse gas emissions within two decades and reduce them thereafter, increasing action by developing countries in controlling their emissions is also needed, including policies to improve energy efficiency; RECOGNISES that these actions should be compatible with sustainable economic and social development and poverty eradication, which are the key priorities of developing countries and that full account should be taken of the specific needs and special circumstances of developing countries, in particular least developed countries (LDCs); UNDERLINES the importance of incorporating climate change considerations into poverty reduction strategies and national strategies for sustainable development.

8. ENCOURAGES Parties to explore new approaches for differentiation between Parties in a fair and flexible framework, offering opportunities for broadening and deepening Parties' contributions to the mitigation of climate change, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities; EMPHASISES that such a global approach could be supportive of meeting other sustainable development policy goals and lead to an extension of co-operation to other fields, such as e.g. transfer of technology, energy supply security and reduction of local air pollution.

9. RECONFIRMS its support for continuing combating climate change under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol; EMPHASISES its desire for an early discussion with all Parties on a future climate change regime, which should be developed in a comprehensive way, taking into account all important greenhouse gases, sectors and mitigation options, including emissions from international aviation and maritime transportation; NOTES that the role of land use, land use change and forestry will need to be taken into account; UNDERLINES the crucial role of the methodological rules established under the Convention and the Protocol; STRESSES the importance of utilising tools such as emissions trading and project-based mechanisms beyond 2012 in a global framework, as a means for cost effective emission reductions and to support sustainable development in developing countries, ensuring continuity of projects implemented during the first Kyoto commitment period.

10. RECOGNISES that there is a need for additional policies to arrive at a low greenhouse gas emitting economy, thereby improving competitiveness e.g. by building competitive advantage in new technologies; ACKNOWLEDGES the need of further increase of energy efficiency, where appropriate, by improving standards; STRESSES the need to significantly enhance investments in research and development with regard to low carbon emitting energy technologies, concerning i.a. energy efficiency and renewables and diffusion of existing and new technologies; STRESSES also the role of the forthcoming EU framework programme on technology research 2007-2013 in this context; WELCOMES the process to develop a strategy for addressing the medium and long term time frame for renewable energy beyond 2010 as contained in the (Energy) Council conclusions of November 2004; ACKNOWLEDGES that the Cardiff process needs to be further pursued, in particular with respect to the integration of climate considerations in other policy areas, since thereby co-benefits are often achieved; STRESSES its concern regarding the increase in emissions from the transport sector; VALUES the input from other Council formations to the integration of climate considerations in other policy areas; EMPHASISES its intention to further develop the European Union emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) and in that respect LOOKS FORWARD to the first review of the EU ETS in 2006; RECALLS its intention to consider establishing links with other emissions trading schemes to develop an efficient global emissions trading market; INVITES the European Commission to develop a strategic framework on climate change measures and technologies (eliminating barriers) under the ECCP, building inter alia on the Commission’s report on costs and benefits as requested by the 2004 Spring European Council, in order to enable decision-making on ways and means to meet a future EU target.

11. REITERATES that mitigation of climate change is the cornerstone of present and future climate change policies and that, since climate change is already occurring, adaptation to climate change is a necessary complement to such policies; REITERATES that even with significant emission reductions over the coming decades, societies in developing and developed countries have to prepare for and adapt to the consequences of some inevitable climate change; NOTES that postponing mitigation will increase the need for adaptation or may even render it impossible, e.g. in case of rapid, non-linear changes; EMPHASISES that the feasibility of adaptation strategies depends to a large extent on the level of mitigation; REITERATES that incorporating the consideration of climate risks into poverty reduction strategies and national strategies for sustainable development is key to minimising developing countries' vulnerability to climate change;

UNDERLINES the need to limit climate change effects in order to support national and international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation goals and targets; EMPHASISES the importance of the EU Action Plan on climate change in the context of development cooperation, adopted by the Council in November 2004, in achieving these goals; UNDERLINES the need to further develop synergies between the Rio Conventions and the other multilateral environmental agreements.

12. UNDERLINES that addressing climate change has costs but also brings opportunities and incentives for innovation in support of the Lisbon Agenda goals of economic growth, full employment and sustainable development; NOTES that broader participation in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to achieve the environmental objective and will contribute to mitigate economic adjustment costs and avoid distortions in competition; EMPHASISES that when evaluating costs and benefits of future climate change policies it is vital to include monetary, non-monetary and non-tangible aspects of climate change policies into both the costs of action (taking into account such aspects as technological developments, reduction potentials and consumption patterns) and the costs of inaction (such as damage from more frequent severe weather events, risks of abrupt climate change, loss of biodiversity, irreversible impacts, social and safety aspects and implications for other regions, and positive effects such as ancillary benefits and the contribution of technology innovation to competitiveness and economic growth); LOOKS FORWARD to the Commission’s report on costs and benefits in view of the 2005 Spring European Council consideration of medium and longer term emission reduction strategies, including targets."

The Council's conclusions are intended to be a contribution to the Spring 2005 European Council.

LISBON STRATEGY

The Council held an in-depth debate regarding the preparation of the Lisbon Mid-Term Review, in particular concerning environmental aspects, on the basis of the High-Level Group's Report ("Kok Report"). It recognised the need to continue discussions on this subject under the next Presidency.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY (SDS)

The Council to adopted the following conclusions on the revision of the European Sustainable Development Strategy:

"RECALLING the adoption of the European Union's Sustainable Development Strategy (EU-SDS) by the European Council in Göteborg in 2001, REITERATING its ambition to achieve a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come through ensuring that economic growth, environmental quality and social cohesion go hand in hand, STRESSES that the EU-SDS remains valid and provides guiding principles for all EU policies; CONSIDERS that the EU-SDS should be updated and revised, in particular by taking into account recent developments, at EU and global level, in relation to sustainable development and, by bringing together the various aspects of the EU-SDS, communicate a powerful and appealing vision of society as a whole.

RECALLING the conclusions of the March 2004 Environment Council, UNDERLINES that a revised EU-SDS should inter alia, include appropriate goals, address the intergenerational aspect, incorporate the external dimension of sustainable development, strengthen the synergy between the three pillars of sustainable development, reinforce the integration of environment into the other policy areas (Cardiff) and strengthen the synergy between Lisbon process and EU-SDS so that these strategies become more mutually supportive, STRESSES that a revised EU-SDS should meet the expectations outlined.

RECALLING the conclusions of the Göteborg European Council that each Spring Council will review progress in developing and implementing the strategy and will give policy guidance, as necessary, to promote sustainable development.

INVITES the Commission to present in time for the Spring Council 2005:

  • a comprehensive stock tacking of the progress in the implementation of the EU-SDS since Göteborg, including the external dimension,
  • an analysis of the key-findings of the Public Consultation,
  • Policy options for a revised EU SDS

INVITES the European Spring Council 2005 to give political guidance for the revision of the EU SDS with the aim to adopt a revised strategy without delay at a later European Council in 2005."

The Council's conclusions are intended to be a contribution to the European Council.

FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT (LIFE +)

The Council held a preliminary exchange of views on the recent proposal for a Regulation on the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE +), on the basis of a Presidency discussion document (15554/04).

The debate focused essentially on the following issues:

  • The new "LIFE+" regime as a policy support instrument.
  • The proposed programming approach.
  • The themes and actions eligible for funding under the proposed "LIFE+" Regulation.
  • The budget for LIFE+.

The exchange of views will provide guidance for continuing examination of the file. It showed that, while there is agreement on the need for a specific financial instrument for the environment to supplement the funding for environmental measures available under other Community financial instruments, there are differing opinions about the priorities for the LIFE+ instrument and how it should operate.

UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL

The Council held an exchange of views on the preparation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council to be held in February 2005 with the participation of Dr Klaus Töpfer, UNEP's Executive Director.

This exchange of views was intended to provide political guidance for further EU discussions with a view to the forthcoming UNEP Governing Council meeting and the Millennium Review Summit next year.

Discussions focused in particular on the following issues:

  • synergy between the goals and targets of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals (see below);
  • strengthening the environmental dimension of all Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in policy formulation and implementation within the UN system, thus reinforcing the link between environment and development;
  • more effective preservation of “global commons” (e.g. air, water supplies) also with a view to contributing to peace and security;
  • improving environmental governance at global level, including through strengthening UNEP.

Progress made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals will be reviewed at the Millennium Review Summit, a high-level plenary meeting opening the 2005 UN General Assembly session. UNEP should provide an environmental input to the 2005 review. In this context, the EU invited UNEP´s Executive Director to present a report to the UNEP Governing Council.

In summarising discussions, the President of the Council stressed that joining forces was important to support and advance the implementation of the commitments from the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (for example on sustainable consumption and production, biodiversity, water and sanitation, renewable energy and chemicals) and of the commitments deriving from the 2000 Millennium Declaration (MDGs).

Joint efforts should help achieve the environment-related UN MDG 7 (environmental sustainability) and help enhance the environmental dimension of the other MDGs, such as the eradication of poverty and extreme hunger.

MARINE ENVIRONMENT

The Council adopted the following conclusions on Protection and conservation of the marine environment:

"THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

1. TAKES NOTE of the Council Conclusions of 4 March 2003 and the WSSD Plan of Implementation (2002) with regard to the protection and conservation of the marine environment and the Work Programme of Marine and Coastal Biodiversity of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity;

2. UNDERLINES the importance to attain a balance between sustainable use, protection and conservation of the marine environment;

3. TAKES NOTE of the Commission's intention to come forward with a Green Paper on Maritime Policy and STRESSES therefore the need for synergy between the thematic strategy for the protection and the conservation of the marine environment and this Green Paper and the need to more fully address the importance of a strong integration and coherence of policies relevant to the marine environment, required at all levels of management and for all programmes and activities impacting on marine environment;

4. WELCOMES the results of the 2nd Stakeholder Conference, jointly organised by the Netherlands' Presidency and the Commission in Rotterdam on 10-12 November 2004 with the purpose to promote and establish a wide stakeholder involvement in the process of finalising the Strategy and provide input to the further development of the Strategy at regional scales; and NOTES the general support of the Conference for the process and the approach and that the results provide a firm basis for the finalisation of the Strategy;

5. INVITES the Commission to build upon the results of this conference when finalising the Strategy and stresses the importance of (new) issues such as:

  • the fact that the understanding of the impact of climate change is still developing and the issue might come to dominate,
  • the need to pay more attention to i.a. the impacts from pollution of land-based sources, in particular with regard to acidification and eutrophication, leisure, tourism and to underwater noise,
  • the need for supporting scientific research and full access to scientific data,
  • the impact of shipping, including further development that overarch various aspects (such as ballast water, marine litter and air pollution),
  • the clean scrapping of vessels,
  • the need for applying the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities in the marine environment,
  • the need to integrate its current and future socio and economic dimensions of the implementation of the Marine Strategy;

6. ACKNOWLEDGES that there is an important role for the Regional Marine and Fisheries Organisations and other relevant actors in the further development of the Strategy at regional scale and the fact that a regional approach to implementation is essential to allow for regional differences and WELCOMES the framework for developing regional implementation plans of the Strategy including the process for identifying eco-regions as the geographical basis for these plans;

7. UNDERLINES that for the further development and implementation of the Strategy it will be essential:

  • that non-EU countries bordering the regional European seas share the common vision of the strategy, its principles, goals and related objectives and do actively participate in its further development and share the responsibility for its implementation,
  • to use to the extent possible, the work and the results of implementing existing EU legislation e.g. the Water framework Directive, the Habitat Directive etc,
  • that the appropriate way forward for the development and implementation of the Strategy is a process of transparency and openness that has characterised the process up until now,
  • to recognise and use public awareness, communication and education as important elements in the development and implementation of the Strategy,
  • to achieve ownership and long term political commitment for the goals and objectives of the Strategy,
  • to set priorities to give due regard to the necessary resources;

8. WELCOMES the Commission's intention to bring forward the Thematic Strategy for the Protection and Conservation of the European Marine Environment within the timeframe set by the 6th Environment Action Program and INVITES the Commission to provide for a flexible mechanism – as part of the Strategy – which enables to adopt future knowledge growth and developments with regard to the protection, conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment."

OTHER BUSINESS

The Council was further briefed on the following issues:

  • Mercury strategy
  • Conferences organised by the Netherlands Presidency (16048/04):
  • Legionella in Europe
  • Exploring new approaches for the regulation of industrial installations (ENAP)
  • High-level meeting on energy in motion
  • 25 years of Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds
  • Conference on soil strategy
  • Conference on Environment and Health Action Plan (Budapest)
  • Forthcoming thematic strategies
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation (15986/04)
  • UNECE and UNESCO high-level meeting of Environment and Education Ministries (Vilnius, 17 and 18 March 2005) (16005/04)
  • Management of biowaste (16127/04)

OTHER ITEMS APPROVED

ENVIRONMENT

Bathing water*

The Council adopted a common position on a draft Directive on bathing water quality (12884/04). The common position will be submitted to the European Parliament for a second reading under the codecision procedure.

The draft Directive aims to enhance public health protection by strengthening the standards for bathing water quality and providing for extensive information to the public as well as for comprehensive and modern management measures. It will replace Directive 76/160/EEC[10], reflecting scientific knowledge gained since 1976, and complement Directive 2000/60/EC[11], the "water Framework Directive".

For further details, please consult press release 10746/04.

EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY

Crisis management operations - Agreement with Bulgaria

The Council adopted a Decision approving the conclusion of an Agreement with Bulgaria establishing a framework for the participation of Bulgaria in EU military and civilian crisis management operations (15449/04).

Crisis management operations - Agreement with Switzerland

The Council adopted a Decision approving the conclusion of an Agreement with Switzerland on the participation of Switzerland in the EU military crisis management operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Operation ALTHEA) (15653/04).

TRADE POLICY

Steel products - Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine

The Council adopted Regulations establishing quantitative limits for the year 2005 on trade in certain steel products between the European Community and Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine (14052/04, 14148/04, 14134/04).

The Regulations fix quantitative limits for 2005 at the same level as for 2004 albeit taking into account the enlargement of the EU on 1 May 2004, pending the entry into force of new bilateral Steel Agreements currently under negotiation with each of the three countries concerned. The Regulations will be automatically repealed when the new Agreements enter into force.

DEVELOPMENT POLICY

European Development Fund – Financial contribution for 2005

The Council adopted a Decision establishing financial contributions for 2005 to the European Development Fund (EDF) in order to finance aid projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and Member State overseas countries and territories.

The Council also adopted a Decision fixing the first instalment of contributions (15305/04).

The total of contributions that will be transferred to the Commission and to the European Investment Bank in 2005 for EDF aid actions amounts to EUR 2,78 billion, of which EUR 1 420 million comes under the first instalment.

A table setting out the total of the three instalments for 2005 to be paid by the 15 Member States previous to EU enlargement can be found in annex to 15712/04.

ENLARGEMENT

Croatia - Pre-accession strategy - Financial and technical assistance

The Council adopted a Regulation aimed at extending financial and technical assistance to Croatia as part of the pre-accession strategy (15655/04).

Croatia become a candidate country for EU membership in June 2004 following its application in March 2001. In order to help carry out reforms required for fulfilling the criteria for accession to the Union, the Regulation envisages the inclusion of Croatia as a beneficiary country under the following EU programmes:

  • PHARE, which mainly supports institution building (Regulation 3906/1989);
  • ISPA, devoted to the development of environment and transport infrastructure (Regulation 1267/1999);
  • SAPARD, for agricultural and rural development support (Regulation 1268/1999).

The Regulation also extends for 2005 assistance provided to Croatia since 2000 under the CARD programme for projects with a regional dimension.

SECURITY REGULATIONS

Inspection programme for 2005

The Council approved the annual EU inspection programme prepared by the General Secretariat's Security Office for 2005, on the basis of guidelines agreed by the Council's Security Committee under its security regulations.

CIVIL PROTECTION

Natural disasters - Extension of the EU action programme

The Council adopted a Decision extending an EU programme against natural disasters until the end of 2006 (15276/04).

The Decision will allow action undertaken at Community level in the field of civil protection to be continued, as regards events such as the floods in central and eastern Europe in the summer of 2002, the Prestige accident of Spain in November 2002 and the heatwave and extensive forest fires in southern Europe in the summer of 2003.

The budget for implementation of the programme is set at EUR 4 million for the years 2005 and 2006. Expenditure since the creation of the programme in 2000 until the end of 2004 was EUR 7,5 million.

FISHERIES

Deep-sea species - New Member States *

The Council adopted a Regulation concerning the granting of fishing opportunities for deep-sea species to the new EU Member States in order to take into account their accession to the EU as from May 2004 (15233/04 and 15502/04 ADD 1).

The Regulation, which amends Council Regulation 2347/02, increases catches of:

  • black scabbardfish: by 243 tonnes out of a total of 3353 instead of 3219, attributed to Estonia (32), Latvia (207), Lithuania (2) and Poland (2) (for areas V, VI, VII and XII);
  • roundnose grenadier: by 230 tonnes out of a total of 5336 instead of 5106, attributed to Estonia (78), Lithuania (101) and Poland (51) (for areas Vb, VI and VII);
  • blue ling: by 9 tonnes out of a total of 5336 instead of 5106, attributed to Estonia (6), Lithuania (2) and Poland (1) (for areas VI and VII).

Fishing Convention on Fishing in the Baltic Sea and Belts - EU enlargement

The Council adopted a Decision on the withdrawal by the European Community from the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources in the Baltic Sea and Belts (15287/04).

Withdrawal is explained by the accession of the Baltic States to the Union, leaving two remaining parties, Russia and the EU. The Decision implies replacing the multilateral provisions of the Convention by bilateral relations between the EU and Russia.


[1] Directive 2003/4/EC (OJ L41, 14.2.2003, p.26).
[2] Directive 2003/35/EC (OJ L156, 25.6.2003, p.17).

[3] The Commission submitted its proposal in November 2003 (15494/03). The European Parliament delivered its first-reading opinion in April 2004 (8504/04).
[4] See press release 10746/04.
[5] See 14226/1/04 and press release14687/04.

[6] See http://efsa.europa.eu

[7] Established under Article 30 of Directive 2001/18/EC.

[8] See Article 5 of Council Decision 1999/468/EC (OJ L 184/23, 17.7.1999).

[9] The proposal was dated 9 September 2004 but not all linguistic versions were available until 26 October 2004.

[10] OJ L 31, 5.2.1976, p. 1.
[11] OJ L L 327 , 22.12.2000, p.1


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