17. The initial distribution between Member States will be reviewed by the Council, if necessary prior to and in any case after completion of protocol negotiations, on the basis of an assessment of actual developments, taking account of the principles and approaches referred to in paragraphs 11, 12, 13 and 14."
|EMISSION REDUCTIONS IN 2010
FOR CO2, CH4 AND N20 TOGETHER (GWP100 WEIGHTED),
COMPARED TO 1990
IMPLEMENTING COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
The Council had a discussion on some key issues of a draft resolution tabled by the Presidency on the implementation of Community environmental law.
The future resolution is the Council's response to a Commission communication, which was submitted to the Council on 5 November 1996. The resolution will deal with
- specificity of environmental protection and its impact on environmental law
- drafting of Community environmental legislation
- transposition and practical application
- IMPEL (EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental law), and
- dealing with complaints of and legal protection for citizens and NGOs.
The Council will adopt the resolution in its June meeting, in the light of today's discussion and taking account of the resolution the European Parliament will from its part adopt probably in March 1997.
HUMANE TRAPPING STANDARDS
The Council heard a report by the Presidency on the state-of-play of this issue.
It is recalled that given the potential implications of the framework agreement on humane trapping standards could have for trade relations, the General Affairs Council, at its meeting on 24 February, considered that the draft agreement left room for improvement on certain points and invited the Commission to seek renewed contacts with the Russian and Canadian authorities with a view to adapting the draft framework agreement on the basis of a number of concrete improvement recommendations and suggestions made in the Council. The General Affairs Council also encouraged the Commission in its contacts with the US to try to reach agreement on a similar basis.
The President announced that the Council will take a final decision at its June meeting.
PROGRAMME PROMOTING NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
The Council reached a political agreement, subject to a parliamentary scrutiny by one delegation, on a common position regarding the Decision on a Community action programme promoting non-governmental organizations primarily active in the field of environmental protection. The common position will be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council session.
The general objective of this programme is to promote the activities of the NGOs at a European level by contributing to the development and implementation of Community environmental policy and legislation. The Commission forwarded the initial proposal to Council by letter in December 1995; it aims at giving a legal basis, and therefore stability to an already existing practice of co-financing NGOs particularly active in this field.
The programme shall start on 1 January 1998 and shall end on 31 December 2001. The financial reference amount for its implementation over this period is ECU 10.6 million. The rate of overall Community assistance shall, in principle, not exceed 50% of the budgeted activities to which this contribution is allocated.
The Council proceeded to a second policy debate on this programme, which contains two proposals for directives on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels (amending Council Directive 93/12) and on the measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from motor vehicles (amending Council Directives 70/156 and 70/220).
The issue was discussed for the first time in an open debate at the Environment Council meeting on 15 October 1996. At its meeting on 9 December, the Council took note of a progress report which identified the major issues and related technical questions for further discussion.
The Ministers intervened on the issues of
- -the emission limit values proposed for the year 2000 ;
- -whether emission limit values for 2005 should be set now or only after the revision of the Directives as provided for in Article 5 of the draft vehicle emissions Directive and in Article 9 of the draft fuel quality Directive, which stipulate that the Commission will submit proposals in this sense before 31 December 1998;
- on what issues a follow-up to the auto-oil programme should focus.
It emerged from the tour-de-table that compromises are yet to be found:
- -as regards the limit values of the year 2000: a number of delegations consider the proposed values for 2000 sufficient or even too stringent while others find them not ambitious enough;
- -as far as the possible limit values for 2005 are concerned quite a number of delegations felt that further studies are necessary in order to insure efficient and scientifically justified standards in the light of the newest technology, while others stressed the importance to establish either compulsory or indicative limit values for the year 2005 now.
Furthermore a majority of delegations support a follow-up of the auto-oil programme, which should mainly pursue the same orientation as the 1st one, with further elaboration on cleaner engines and fuels; the date of 1998 probably being too close, suggestions were made to postpone this review for some more years.
The Council concluded by charging the Committee of Permanent Representatives to work forward with the proposals, with a view to adopting a common position at the Council's June meeting, after the European Parliament has given its opinion scheduled for April 1997.
JOINT MEETING WITH THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES (CEECs)
The Environment Ministers of the European Union and the Ministers of Environment of the Central and Eastern European Countries held their third meeting within the framework of the "structured dialogue" - part of the pre-accession strategy defined by the European Council in Essen - this time in order to discuss their policies regarding climate change. This exchange of views was followed by an informal meeting between Ministers and representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) both from the European Union and the CEECs.
Five particular aspects of the subject "Climate change and environmental policy: a challenge for energy conservation" were addressed in the interventions:
- -The promotion of measures to combat climate change by emphasizing short-term benefits, like energy efficiency, reduced costs, enhanced energy security and the abatement of local air pollution;
- -Coordination between the associated CEECs and the EU Member States - all of whom are Annex-I Parties to the Climate Change Convention - in the international negotiations on a new Protocol on Climate Change, in particular in the light of future accession. Both sides stressed the importance of closer cooperation.
- -The role of Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ) as instruments to combat climate change. Elaborating this concept for a new Climate Change Protocol was seen as a particularly suitable area for coordination between the EU and the CEECs.
- -The potential contribution of EU programmes and other EU-CEEC mechanisms to promoting climate change policies and energy conservation programmes in the associated CEECs. Speakers agreed that climate-related issues should be strengthened in bilateral and multilateral assistance programmes, such as PHARE.
- -The question of strengthening energy conservation programmes in the mandate of international financial institutes. There was widespread support for a further involvement of the EIB, the EBRD and also the World Bank in such programmes.
The President concluded by stressing the very constructive spirit of the discussion, the very valuable suggestions of the CEECs on the various issues and the fact that important efforts are still needed from both the EU countries and the CEECs in order to cope with the challenge of climate change.
The Council had a general debate on the basis of a communication presented by the Commission on environmental agreements.
Environmental agreements are being concluded on a voluntary basis mainly at national level between governments and industries in order to enhance environment protection.
These agreements were indicated by the Commission and agreed by the Council, in the review of the 5th action programme, as one of the priority means to be developed to broaden the range of instruments in the Community environment policy.
The Commission communication aims at developing guidelines and setting conditions for their effective use at Member State level, as well as ascertaining how they can be used at Community level. Such agreements at national level could be used as a means of implementing Community Directives in the field of environment, where provisions in the Directives explicitly allow for such possibility.
The Ministers focused on two questions:
- -Can environmental agreements at national level be considered an effective and workable instrument for implementing Community legislation, and if so, are the conditions mentioned in the Commission's communication appropriate?
- -Can environmental agreements at Community level represent an alternative to Community legislation, and if so, under which conditions?
A large majority of delegations shared the view that environmental agreements can play a useful complementary role under clear conditions in implementing Community environmental legislation at national level; at European level such agreements could not be an alternative to legislation, but might be appropriate in some specific cases.
The Council will pursue its discussion on this issue with a view of its session in June.
LIMITATION OF THE EMISSIONS OF ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
Commissioner Bjerregaard presented to the Council a proposal for a directive on the limitation of the emissions of organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain processes and industrial installations.
This proposal is to be situated in the framework of the 5th Action Programme which provides for general principles and a strategic approach to sustainable development. It also aims at contributing to the strategy to reduce pollution by tropospheric ozone. It covers organic solvent emissions caused by stationary sources as a complement to the atmospheric emissions of mobile sources encompassed in the Auto-oil programme.
The proposal also provides for some interacting requirements with the IPPC Directive which encompasses installations with a high solvent consumption capacity.
Organic solvents are highly volatile and in many of the processes used for they are emitted either directly into air, or indirectly - generally in the form of organic compounds - after having undergone physical or chemical transformation. A number of these organic compounds are carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxic substances and therefore directly harmful to human health or to the environment. Exposure to such solvents occur mainly in certain industrial and urban areas.
The proposal covers some 24 main types of solvent-using installations and processes and aims at an emission cut of at least 50 % by 2010, compared to 1990 levels. Considered as a substances-orientated Directive, it defines reduction targets by means of emission-limit values to be reached through either the abatement at emission sources by using appropriate end-of-pipe technology or substitution technology. Some flexibility is offered to achieve these targets through the introduction of national plans by Member States.
FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE FOR A EUROPEAN COMMUNITY WATER POLICY
Commissioner Bjerregaard presented to the Council a proposal for a directive establishing a framework for a European Community water policy.
After the Council together with the European Parliament had called for a fundamental review of the Community water policy, the Council invited the Commission to come forward with a framework directive on a global water policy according to the orientations outlined in its conclusions of 15 December 1995. The Commission first responded by presenting a communication on a European Water Policy in February 1996, and then, following the conclusions adopted by the Council last June urging the Commission to provide for a proposal by the end of 1996, submitted the present proposal.
The proposal sets a framework on the protection of the surface water and the groundwater in the Community. Both quality and quantity aspects are addressed. It proposes coordinated programmes of measures to achieve environmental objectives for sustainable protection and use of water to be monitored within the river basins. It establishes river basin management plans with public consultation on these plans. It also contains requirements for a mechanism that water use is paid for at full cost recovery prices.
Review of the Directive 90/220 on the deliberate release of genetically modified organisms in the environment
The Austrian delegation presented its request to the Commission to come forward with proposals to complement the above-mentioned Directive as regards the labelling and safety aspects when placing genetically modified products on the market. Commissioner Bjerregaard informed the Council of the work underway and her intention of having a proposal submitted to the Council before the end of 1997; this proposal could be complemented by guidelines on labelling to cover the interim period before the entry into force of the new directive.
Commission communication on environmental taxes and charges in the single market
Commissioner Bjerregaard outlined to the Council the content of a communication (which is yet to be formally transmitted to the Council) on environmental taxes and charges.
The main objective of the communication is to clarify legal issues in relation to the use of environmental taxes and charges by Member States in order to ensure their compatibility with Community law and particularly a non-distorted functioning of the single market.
Taxation on energy and in particular kerosene
The Austrian delegation presented a request to the Commission to examine the possibility of presenting a proposal on taxation of kerosene.
The Presidency reminded the Council of the wide ranging interest of the Council in this issue, as a draft Resolution is under discussion in the Working Party on Financial Questions, and the "Transport" Council will also address this subject at its coming session 11/12 March 1997.
Small and medium-sized enterprises and the environment
The Presidency informed the Council about the outcome of a workshop held in February on this topic to prepare the Ministerial informal meeting on 18-20 April in Amsterdam, where the theme of promoting the improvement of environmental performance in SMEs through the strengthening of existing policy and the introduction of new policy measures shall be discussed.
State of the European Agreement concerning CO2 car emissions
Replying to the request of the French delegation to the Commission, Commissioner Bjerregaard informed the Council on the state of work and indicated that the Commission intends to submit an updated report on this issue, probably before summer 1997.
1st European Conference on sustainable development of Islands
The Spanish delegation informed the Council on the meeting on
sustainable development of islands, to be held on Menorca, 23-26 April 1997.
Adopted without discussion. In the case of legislative acts, votes against and abstentions are indicated. Decisions including statements to which the Council has decided to grant the public access are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.
Assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment *
The Council adopted the Directive amending Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.
This Directive is regarded as one of the main Community instruments for preventing environmental damage at source.
The amendments made are based on experience gained in implementing the Directive and also take account of the commitments entered into under the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, which was signed by the Community and its Member States in Espoo on 25 February 1991.
Specifically, the new provisions clarify and extend the scope of this Directive with reference in particular to:
- -the types of project for which impact assessment is compulsory;
- -the types of project for which the obligation to make an assessment is not systematic but subject to a case-by-case decision by the Member State concerned (Annex II to the Directive) and for which the Directive establishes the criteria to be taken into account in such a decision.
It also clarifies and increases the information to be provided by the developer and strengthens cooperation between the Member States involved in projects with transboundary effects, in particular on the basis of the provisions of the Espoo Convention.
Member States will have two years in which to comply with the new Directive.
Conservation of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds
The Council decided that the European Community would sign, subject to subsequent approval, the Agreement on the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds.
The President of the Council is authorized to designate the person or persons empowered to sign the Agreement on behalf of the European Community.
Relations with Azerbaijan
The Council decided to sign, subject to subsequent conclusion, the Interim Agreement with Azerbaijan initialled by the Commission on 20 September 1996.
This Agreement, which comes within the Community's sphere of competence, makes it possible to apply the trade provisions and accompanying measures in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (a mixed agreement) - signed on 22 April 1996, pending completion of the ratification process.
Aid for uprooted people in Asia and Latin America *
Following the cooperation procedure and pursuant to the Council's common position of 27 June 1996, the Council adopted the Regulation on operations to aid uprooted people in Asian and Latin American developing countries.
The Regulation provides for implementation by the Community of a programme of support and assistance to contribute to the urgent requirements not covered by humanitarian aid and for the longer term realization of projects and action programmes aimed at the self-sufficiency and integration or reintegration of such people (including the establishment of democratic structures and the promotion of human rights).
In this context the Community will support viable projects for self-sufficiency and reinsertion into the socio-economic fabric of refugees and displaced persons, returnees and demobilized soldiers through operations such as mine clearance, combating sexual violence, operations to help people recover their property and property rights, aid concerning the judicial settlement of cases where the human rights of displaced persons have been violated and support to local host communities and areas to which refugees return.
The means deployed in implementing this programme include studies, technical assistance, training and other services, supplies, works, and audits and evaluation and monitoring missions.
Financial support under this programme may be obtained by partners such as regional and international organizations, including United Nations agencies, NGOs, official administrations, Community-based organizations and public or private institutes and operators. Such partners will have to provide an additional financial contribution.
The financial reference amount for the implementation of this programme is ECU 240 million for the period 1996 to 1999.
The Commission will be assisted in implementing the programme by the Committee set up for financial and technical assistance to, and economic cooperation with, the developing countries in Asia and Latin America.
Anti-dumping: pocket flint lighters - Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico
Following a review by the Commission of Regulation No 3433/91 on imports originating in Thailand and an anti-dumping procedure concerning imports of non-refillable flint lighters originating in the Philippines and Mexico, the Council adopted the following measures:
- -repeal of the anti-dumping measures introduced by Regulation No 3433/91 in respect of Thailand;
- -imposition of definitive anti-dumping duties on imports from Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico at a rate of:
- -51,9% for imports from Thailand with the exception of those produced by Politop Co. Ltd., Bangkok, where the rate will be 5,8%;
- -43% for imports from the Philippines with the exception of those produced by Swedish Match Philippines Inc., Manilla, where the rate will be 17%;
- -27,1% for imports from Mexico.
Egypt, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia - textiles
The Council approved the agreements between the Community and Egypt, Malta, Morocco and Tunisia on trade in textile products renewing previous arrangements for two years with certain modifications (the Memoranda of Understanding initialled with Egypt on 26 November 1993, with Malta on 28 November 1990, with Morocco on 9 December 1993 and with Tunisia on 4 November 1993).
These agreements have been applied provisionally since 1 January 1996.
The Council also approved the agreements in the form of exchanges of letters amending these four agreements in order to take account of the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the European Union.
These agreements have been applied provisionally since 1 January 1995.
Duty-free treatment for pharmaceutical ingredients
Further to the conclusions of the Uruguay Round on duty-free treatment for pharmaceutical products and an initial review of the list of products concerned by the WTO Council for Trade in Goods, the Council decided, as from 1 April 1997, to extend duty-free treatment to certain active ingredients bearing an "international non-proprietary name" (INN) from the World Health Organization and specified products used for the manufacture of finished pharmaceuticals.
At the same time the Council decided, as from 1 April 1997, to withdraw duty-free treatment for a number of other INNs whose predominate use is not pharmaceutical and which had been unintentionally included among those INNs which were already allowed duty-free treatment.
Export credits - civil aircraft
The Council amended the Decision of 4 April 1978 on the application of certain guidelines in the field of officially supported export credits - civil aircraft.
This Decision transposes into Community rules the agreements reached by the Participants in the OECD Arrangement on a series of additional guidelines to be applied to export credits in the civil-aircraft field (for exports of used aircraft, spare parts and spare engines and for aircraft maintenance contracts and contracts for the provision of services).
Residues of veterinary medicinal products *
The Council adopted an amendment to Regulation (EEC) No 2377/90 laying down a Community procedure for the establishment of maximum residue limits of veterinary medicinal products in foodstuffs of animal origin.
This amendment applies to substances for which documented applications for the establishment of maximum residue limits were lodged before 1 January 1996.
In order to allow the Community evaluation procedure to continue on a sound scientific basis, the amendment extends the time limit by which the administration to food-producing animals of veterinary medicinal products containing active substances which are not mentioned in Annexes I, II or III to the Regulation will be prohibited within the Community. The extension will be for one year in the case of products derived from pyrasolidon, nitroimidazoles, arsanilic acid and phenylbutazon and three years in the case of other substances.