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6894/98 (Presse 78)


2076th Council meeting


Brussels, 23 March 1998

  • President: Mr Michael MEACHER
  •   Minister for the Environment of the United Kingdom



















Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents I

Convention on the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes I

Prevention of marine pollution - approval of PARCOM Decision II

1979 Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution - Reduction of sulphur emissions II


5th Framework Programmes in the field of Community research III


UN Convention on the Law of the Sea III

Anti-dumping - imports of ammonium nitrate from Russia IV


Extension of the KAROLUS programme IV

Food additives other than colours and sweeteners IV

Data protection on the information highways - Council of Europe Guidelines V

Food additives other than colours and sweeteners V

For more information: tel: 285.62.19 - 285.78.33 - 285.74.59

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



State Secretary for the Environment


Mr Niels PULTZ

Deputy Permanent Representative


Ms Angela MERKEL

Mr Erhard JAUCK

Minister for the Environment

State Secretary, Federal Ministry of the Environment



State Secretary for the Environment



Minister for the Environment


Ms Dominique VOYNET

Minister for the Environment



Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government



Minister for the Environment



Minister for the Environment



Minister for the Environment


Ms Margreeth DE BOER

Minister for Housing, Planning and the Environment



Minister for the Environment



Minister for the Environment



Minister for the Environment

United Kingdom:

Mr Michael MEACHER

Ms Angela EAGLE

Minister for the Environment

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions





The Council reached a political agreement in view of a common position on the proposal for a directive on the landfill of waste.

In most countries of Europe, landfill is still the preferred method of waste disposal in spite of the nuisances ensuing from it. Of the approximately 150 million tonnes of municipal waste generated in the EU in 1993 (i.e. 400 kg per capita) around 40 % is landfilled; in several Member States this percentage exceeds 80 %.

When preparing its common position the Council considered carefully the European Parliament's Opinion and has been able to retain no less than 13 amendments proposed by the Parliament.

The common position provides detailed rules to prevent or reduce negative effects of waste landfill on the environment, in particular the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, as well as the resulting risk to human health, over the entire life of the landfill.

The provisions are based on the principle of classification of landfills according to the types of waste - hazardous, non-hazardous and inert waste - accepted by them.

This classification is coupled with procedures for issuing waste acceptance permits, for control and monitoring in the operational phase and for landfill closure; these procedures are also the subject of provisions to be implemented by the competent national authorities.

The following wastes will not be accepted in a landfill: liquid waste, explosive, combustible or flammable wastes, hospital wastes and other infectious clinical wastes, and any other type of waste which does not fulfil the acceptance criteria defined in the Directive.

The text also sets strict conditions governing acceptance of the depositing in a landfill for non-hazardous waste of waste originally classified as hazardous which, after treatment, no longer presents hazardous properties.

The main innovation of the new proposal refers to the introduction of a quantified reduction strategy for the landfill of biodegradable municipal waste. The volume of this type of waste accepted for landfill shall be reduced to 75%, 50% and 35% of the tonnage produced in 1995 by 2006, 2009 and 2016 respectivelyAssuming the Directive enters into force in 1999.. The situation will be reviewed in 2014, and an optional period of not more than 4 years will be granted to those Member States which make heavy use of landfill. This rate of reduction should encourage the development of new methods of eliminating waste (composting, production of bio-gas, etc.).

In addition waste should undergo preliminary treatment before going to landfill, unless such treatment fails to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Directive, or in the case of inert waste unless such treatment is not technically feasible.

Member States are to encourage the fixing of a price to be charged for the disposal of any type of waste in a landfill at a level covering at least all the costs involved in the setting up and operation of the site, including as far as possible the financial security required.

In the case of existing landfill sites, Member States will have to ensure that landfills which have been granted a permit, or which are already in operation at the time of transposition of the Directive, may not continue to operate unless the steps needed to meet the requirements of the Directive are taken as soon as possible and within 8 years from the transposition of the Directive into national legislation. Certain provisions will start to apply three years after the entry into force of the Directive.

Certain provisions of the Directive may not apply to landfill sites for non-hazardous waste or inert wastes serving small islands which have only a single landfill site with a total final capacity of less than 15 000 tonnes (or 1 000 tonnes per year), or serving isolated settlements (no more than 500 inhabitants and with difficult access).


Having examined the Opinion of the European Parliament (first reading), the Council adopted its common position on the proposal for a directive relating to the measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from light goods vehicles (pick-up trucks, delivery vans, etc). The Belgian delegation abstained.

The text will now return to the European Parliament for second reading under the co-decision procedure.

The original Commission proposal covered only passenger cars; it was then amended to incorporate rules on light commercial vehicles as well. However, both the Council and the European Parliament have so far dealt with the two sections separately, in order not to delay work on passenger cars which is already at a more advanced stage. The common position adopted today maintains as much as possible a parallelism between "light commercial vehicles" and "passenger cars" (the common position regarding the latter was adopted by the Council last October), in order to facilitate a probable merging of the two texts at a later stage of the procedure - possibly during conciliation.

The purpose of the proposal is to reduce limit values for certain pollutants in new models of vehicles being placed on the market. To this effect, the common position sets limits applicable from the year 2000 corresponding to a drop of 40% in nitrogen oxides, 40% also in total hydrocarbons and 30% in carbon monoxide for

petrol-driven light commercial vehicles. For diesel-powered vehicles, the reductions would amount to 20% in nitrogen oxides, 65% in hydrocarbons, 40% in carbon monoxide and 35% in particulates. The common position also stipulates indicative limit values to be applied from 1 January 2005. These will be the subject of a further Commission proposal which will either confirm or amend the indicative values.

In addition to the emission limit values, the daily discharges of vehicles in service will be better contained by means of compulsory fitting of on-board diagnostic systems and the introduction of a new testing procedure and a new test to restrict emissions by evaporation.

It should be remembered that this proposal forms part of the European programme on air quality, road traffic emissions, fuels and engine technologies (the Auto-Oil programme). The programme has five sections:

  • –fuel quality;
  • –emissions from private cars;
  • –emissions from light commercial vehicles;

– emissions from heavy goods vehicles;

  • –adaptation of provisions relating to roadworthiness testing.

The Council has already adopted a common position on the first two aspects on 7 October 1997; this common position was substantially amended by the European Parliament at its February 1998 session. With regard to heavy goods vehicles, the Commission proposal is currently being examined at expert level; the proposal regarding roadworthiness testing is still pending.


The Council reached a political agreement in view of a common position on the proposal for a Directive on the limitation of the emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations.

The text aims at contributing to the overall strategy to reduce pollution caused by tropospheric ozone. It covers organic solvent emissions caused by commercial and industrial stationary sources as a complement to

  • the directives or projects of directives on atmospheric emissions of mobile sources encompassed in the Auto-Oil programme, and
  • the directive on the control of volatile organic compound emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution from terminals to service stations adopted at the end of 1994 (Stage I).

The proposal also provides for some interacting requirements with the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Directive which also encompasses larger installations with a high solvent consumption capacity.

Organic solvents are highly volatile and are emitted in many production activities either directly or indirectly into the air - generally in the form of organic compounds after having undergone physical or chemical transformation. A number of these organic compounds are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic and, therefore, directly harmful to human health or to the environment. Exposure to such solvents occurs mainly in certain industrial and urban areas.

The main types of solvent-using installations are covered, with the aim of 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 abatement technology or substitution technology.

The sectors covered include, inter alia, the manufacturing of varnishes, inks and adhesives, the coating industry, vehicle coating and vehicle refinishing, surface cleaning, dry cleaning, printing, wood impregnation and the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.

Certain installations that have recently invested in abatement equipment are, under certain conditions, derogated from the emission limit values of the Directive, so as to avoid these plants being required to reinvest precipitately.

It is also foreseen that Member States, rather than applying the proposed emission limit values (through abatement techniques or substitution) to every single installation encompassed in the scope, can, for existing installations, elaborate national plans tailored to their own national circumstances. These plans should establish an emission target value in relation to what would be achieved through the application of individual emission-limit value constraints on each installation. This target could then give the opportunity of burden-sharing within particular or between different sectors. The final result in terms of ozone-related emission reductions should nevertheless remain the same and would be scrutinized by the Commission.

It is recalled that the proposal was presented to the Council at its session of March 1997 and was the object of a political consensus in June 1997. The Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee and that of the European Parliament have been delivered on 28 May 1997 and on 14 January 1998 respectively.


"The European Community will sign, subject to subsequent conclusion, the Protocol to the Climate Change Convention adopted on 11 December 1997 at Kyoto, Japan.

The President of the Council is authorized to designate the persons empowered to sign the Protocol on behalf of the Community and to confer upon them the powers necessary for that purpose.

The Council recalls that at the end of the Third Conference of the Parties to the UN-FCCC, the Luxembourg delegation, speaking on behalf of the European Community and its Member States, stated that the European Community, as a regional economic integration organization with a highly integrated economy, together with its Member States plan to take advantage of the joint fulfilment provisions of the new Protocol and requested that a statement be recorded accordingly in the minutes of the session.

In the light of this, the Council agrees that the following statement will be made at the time of signature:

"The European Community and its Member States will fulfil their respective commitments under Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Protocol jointly in accordance with the provisions of Article 4.""

The so-called Kyoto protocol on climate change (see also following agenda item) was opened for signature on 16 March. Signing of the protocol signifies the intention of countries to ratify the agreement and is, therefore, also a political gesture. The protocol will enter into force only after 55 parties representing at least 55% of the 1990 total CO2 emissions of Annex I parties (i.e. industrialized countries) have ratified it.

As this is an area of "shared competence", both the European Community and its Member States will sign the Kyoto protocol.


  • "1. The Council believes that the Kyoto Protocol is a major step forward in the fight against climate change. Although falling short of the overall objectives set by the European Community and its Member States, legally-binding targets for all industrialised countries were established and those accepted by the major economies - the United States, Japan and Canada - closely matched the target accepted by the Community. It believes that the leading role played by the European Community and its Member States, underpinned by the negotiating position established in its conclusions of 3 March 1997, 19 June 1997 and 16 October 1997 was a key factor in achieving this outcome.
  • 2. However, the Council regards the Kyoto Protocol as essentially a first step, setting out a framework for action which needs to be further elaborated and clarified. In this regard, the Council welcomes the intention, expressed in the decision to adopt the Protocol, to make a "prompt start" in addressing many of the key outstanding issues at the fourth Conference of the Parties (CoP4) in Buenos Aires in November 1998. It considers that further work needs to be done during the period before ratification and entry into force of the Protocol if the outcome is to live up to the promise of Kyoto and produce real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The present conclusions, which deal with the next steps of that work, build on earlier Council conclusions, including those of 4 February 1991 which provided authority for the Community to participate in the negotiations for a framework Convention on Climate Change and related Protocols.
  • The Council recalls that it has concluded that global average temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial level and that therefore concentration levels lower than 550 ppm CO2 should guide global limitation and reduction efforts. Far greater global limitation and common reduction efforts will therefore be necessary in the next decades.
  • 3. The Council welcomes the provision for a review of the Protocol at the second meeting of its Parties. This will provide an opportunity, inter alia, for the adequacy of the targets of Annex I countries to be reviewed in the light of scientific, social, technological and economic developments. It further recalls the requirement under Article 3.9 to initiate consideration of commitments for the second commitment period no later than 2005.
  • 4. Noting that it was not possible to agree legally-binding targets for a period earlier than 2008 to 2012, the Council emphasizes the importance of the requirement under Article 3.2 of the Kyoto Protocol that Annex I Parties must have made demonstrable progress in achieving their commitments under the Protocol by 2005. The Community and its Member States will work towards early signature and ratification of the Protocol and action under it; and the Council urges other Parties to do likewise, especially those with legally-binding targets since it attaches importance to their broad participation at the time of entry into force of the Protocol.
  • 5. In this regard, the Council considers it important that the European Community and its Member States sign the Protocol early, in order to signal their continuing commitment to achieving its objective. However the Council notes that before ratification satisfactory progress on a number of outstanding issues is necessary, particularly with regard to the operation of flexible mechanisms such as emissions trading, joint implementation and the clean development mechanism, to ensure that these provide real, cost effective, and verifiable environmental benefits and do not create loopholes that undermine the objectives of the Protocol.
  • 6. The Council welcomes the inclusion in the Protocol of provisions enabling Parties jointly to fulfil their commitments under Article 3 of the Protocol. It reaffirms the intention of the Community and its Member States to utilise these provisions. The Council stresses the importance of reaching early agreement on the contributions of Member States to the 8% reduction target agreed at Kyoto, in order to enable Member States and the Community to begin the process of preparing for ratification of the Protocol.
  • 7. The Council recalls its earlier conclusions on burden-sharing and reaffirms that the initial distribution agreed in March 1997 would guide the determination of the final contribution of each Member State towards the reduction to be achieved by the Community as a whole, subject to re-examination on completion of the Kyoto negotiations, on the basis of an assessment of actual developments, taking account of the principles and approaches referred to in its conclusions of 3 March 1997. It expresses its intention to agree this determination at its next meeting. It notes in this context that the targets agreed at Kyoto are based on a basket of six greenhouse gases, allow Parties to choose to use a 1995 baseline for their emissions of HFCs, PFCs and SF6 if they wish, and provide for the inclusion of sinks calculated as changes in carbon stocks resulting from certain direct human-induced land use change and forestry activities. The Council requests the Ad Hoc Group to complete as a matter of urgency any preparatory work necessary to facilitate an agreement.
  • 8. The Council regrets that it was not possible to agree upon the inclusion of a wide range of legally binding policies and measures in the Protocol. It welcomes however the provision in the Protocol relating to aviation and marine bunker fuels and the provisions for cooperation on and coordination of policies and measures. It believes it is important to make rapid progress under those provisions and in particular it urges Annex I Parties to pursue work through ICAO and IMO to limit or reduce GHG emissions, noting, inter alia, the proposals made in this context at Kyoto by the Community and its Member States.
  • 9. The Council also recalls its earlier conclusions, emphasising the importance of the further elaboration and implementation of common and co-ordinated policies and measures (CCPMs) which, as well as national policies and measures, are a necessary contribution to the achievement of the Kyoto target. It emphasises the importance of elaborating such policies in an integrated manner and of proper attention being given to them in all the appropriate formations of the Council.
  • 10. The Council recalls its conclusions of 3 March 1997 which identified CCPMs in a number of areas as having high potential for contributing to meeting the reduction objectives to be agreed at Kyoto. In this context, the Council welcomes the Commission’s intention to produce a further Communication setting out a strategy on climate change, following completion of the Kyoto negotiations. It urges that this should be brought forward as early as possible and that it should focus on areas where agreement can be reached in June. The Council requests the Ad Hoc Group to continue urgently its consideration of CCPMs and to concentrate on priorities to enable the June Council to reach agreement on specific options. In taking this work forward, the Council urges the Commission and the Ad Hoc Group to bear in mind the importance of integrating climate change considerations across a number of key policy areas, in particular economic instruments and taxation, energy on the demand and supply side, industry, transport and agriculture.
  • 11. The Council considers it essential that COP 4 in November 1998 makes progress and maintains the momentum of Kyoto. The Council stresses the importance that modalities, rules and guidelines for the operation of flexible mechanisms under the Protocol should be consistent with each other. The Council reaffirms that domestic action should provide the main means of meeting the commitments under Article 3 of the Protocol and that the modalities, rules and guidelines for the operation of flexible mechanisms should ensure that those mechanisms do not undermine this principle or weaken the commitments under Article 3. In this context a concrete ceiling on the use of flexible mechanisms has to be defined to achieve these aims.
  • 12. In particular, the Council stresses that emissions trading should be subject to appropriate rules and that these should be developed at CoP4. The Council welcomes the provision in the Protocol that trading shall be supplemental to domestic action. It continues to believe that emissions trading should deliver real reductions at lower cost and that the trading of so-called "hot air" should not lead to overall reductions being lower than would otherwise be the case.
  • Rules should be developed to ensure in particular that the emission trading system is transparent, accessible and verifiable, functions in a non discriminatory manner and does not lead to distortions of competition. A clearing-house system may facilitate this. In preparation for the June sessions of the Convention subsidiary bodies, the Council requests the Ad Hoc Group to identify urgently all key elements of such rules.
  • 13. The Council welcomes the inclusion of joint implementation between developed countries in the Protocol. It stresses its belief that effective guidelines should be elaborated by the CoP to the Convention at its fourth session to ensure a fully accessible, transparent and accountable system.
  • 14. Finally, the Council considers that the clean development mechanism could have an important role to play in assisting developing countries to achieve sustainable development and in contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention, by encouraging action by both the private and public sectors to mitigate climate change and by accelerating the transfer and diffusion of technology. An early decision is needed to determine the extent to which the commitments of Annex I Parties under Article 3 of the Protocol can be met through the clean development mechanism. It is also essential that the operation of the mechanism ensures that genuine additional reductions or limitations of emissions are achieved through projects in developing countries. The modalities of the mechanism should be clarified drawing upon the role and experience of the operating entity of the financial mechanism and other existing institutions. The Council believes that COP 4 should address as a matter of priority these and other issues, and in particular must consider the implications of the provision in the Protocol which allows credits obtained during the period from 2000 up to the start of the first commitment period to be used to meet targets during the first commitment period.
  • 15. On the question of carbon sinks, the Council notes the limited inclusion of sink categories in the targets agreed in Kyoto and the provision for additional categories to be added later. The Council recognises that there is a need for further work to clarify the activities that will fall within existing categories as well as the methodologies for estimation of removals and modalities for reporting. It takes the view that further methodological work by the IPCC should guide the decision-making process on the inclusion of other categories.
  • 16. The Council reiterates the need for a strong, efficient and effective compliance regime backing the legally binding commitments under the Protocol. In this context it considers it important that work to elaborate procedures and mechanisms entailing binding consequences for Parties in non compliance is initiated at CoP 4.
  • 17. The Council reaffirms its belief that in accordance with the Berlin Mandate and their responsibilities under the Convention it was right that developed countries should take the lead by agreeing legally binding targets at Kyoto. It also recognises the steps that developing countries are already taking under the Convention and notes the advancement of these under the Protocol. However it is clear that ultimate success in combatting climate change will require increasingly global participation. In that context, it regrets that no progress was made to include a provision in the Protocol for non-Annex I Parties to take on quantified obligations on a voluntary basis.
  • 18. The Council believes the European Community and its Member States should continue their dialogue with developed and developing countries about how to take forward the issue of increasing participation in global efforts to combat climate change at CoP4 and beyond, such as through an early review of the obligations of all Parties under the Convention, taking account of the provisions for review in articles 4.2 (d) and 7.2 of the Convention and in article 9 of the Protocol. In this context, the Council reiterates its belief that in the longer term methods to allocate reduction or limitation targets should eventually lead to convergence of emissions levels based on appropriate indicators.
  • 19. The Council stresses that increasing global participation over time must be in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities and must take into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustainable economic and social development and the eradication of poverty."

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) strengthens the commitments of industrialised countries by setting quantified emission limitation or reduction targets for the period after 2000. The targets which concern a "basket" of 6 greenhouse gases, are legally binding. The Community as a whole will have to reduce its emissions of these gases by 8 % in the period 2008-2012: for carbon dioxide (C02) - by far the most important substance responsible for global warming -, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) the baseline is represented by the 1990 level of emissions; for the three industrially produced gases, i.e. hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), cuts can be measured against either a 1990 or 1995 baseline.


  • "1. The Council reaffirms its conclusions of 25 June 1996**These conclusions state, inter alia, that an agreement with the automobile industry "should seek to commit the industry in the European Union as a whole, as well as importers, to make the major contribution to the achievement of the CO2 emission value objectives" of a strategy to reduce average CO2 emissions of newly registered passenger cars to 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2005 or 2010 at the latest. .
  • 2. The Council notes with interest the European Automobile Manufacturers Association's (ACEA) outline proposal including the offer of 140 g/km by 2008 and believes the offer could be the basis for further negotiations leading to an agreement, but that adequate further examination of the whole proposal will be necessary, taking into account inter alia the points below.
  • 3. The Council notes in particular that the terms of the outline proposal, including the conditions on fuel quality standards and no negative measures against diesel cars require further information and analysis.
  • 4. The Council therefore requests the Commission to continue discussions with the industry to analyze and clarify further the whole proposal.
  • 5. In addition the Council requests the Commission to consider further relevant matters, including:
    • (a) the inclusion of intermediate targets;
    • (b) how to monitor progress towards meeting the targets;
    • (c) the ACEA assumption "that the main car manufacturing countries implement similar policies";
    • (d) whether ACEA have assumed that other instruments of the Community strategy are implemented;
    • (e) how to include non-ACEA manufacturers and importers; and
    • (f) the procedural framework for any agreement(s) with ACEA and non-ACEA manufacturers and importers.
  • 6. The Council requests the Commission to report on these matters and give its opinion on the proposal in due time before June 1998. The Council notes the Commission's intention to keep the European Parliament informed on the development of its discussions with industry.
  • 7. The Council requests the Commission to analyze what contribution ACEA's offer can make to the Community and Member States commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change;
  • 8. The Council further requests the Commission in consultation with the Member States and ACEA to continue considering the further measures that might be required in order to achieve the Council's medium term objective of 120 g/km."


    The Council reached political agreement on a common position concerning the decision for amending the so-called "CO2 monitoring mechanism". The common position will be formally adopted, without further debate, at a later stage.

    The original aim of the Commission proposal was to update Decision 93/389/EEC by extending monitoring beyond 2000, and by also taking into consideration greenhouse gases other than CO2.

    The text agreed by the Council goes further in the sense that it establishes a mechanism for :

    • monitoring all anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal protocol on ozone-depleting substances;
    • evaluating progress towards meeting commitments in respect of these emissions, taking into account also the protocol agreed in Kyoto last December.

    According to the draft decision, the Member States would implement national programmes for limiting and/or reducing their anthropogenic emissions by sources and enhancing removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in order to contribute to:

    • the stabilization of CO2 emissions by 2000 at 1990 levels in the Community as a whole, assuming that other leading industrial countries undertake commitments along similar lines, and with a differentiation between Member States as agreed in various Council conclusions;
    • the fulfilment of the EC's commitments under the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol (see previous agenda items);
    • transparent and accurate monitoring of the actual and projected progress of Member States, including the contribution made by Community measures, in meeting any agreed national contributions to the EC's international commitments.

    Member States would determine their emissions in accordance with the methodologies agreed upon in Kyoto. They would report the data on emissions and sinks to the Commission on an annual basis. The Commission would then establish inventories for the entire Community. It would also assess annually whether the actual and projected figures are sufficient to ensure that the Community and its Member States are on course to fulfil their commitments.


    The Council held an orientation debate - televised to the press and wider public - on the proposed Directive relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead in ambient air.

    The proposal was submitted to the Council in September 1997. The European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee have not yet delivered their opinions on the proposal.

    The proposal addresses the main pollutants for ambient air and reflects WHO standards as recently agreed. Its framework has already been traced by Directive 96/62/EC, usually referred to as the "mother directive".

    At the end of the debate, the President noted :

    • that broad support existed for the Commission's approach on air quality standards, although some technical adjustments to the standards may be further agreed;
    • in this context, that available scientific information needs to be improved, especially as regards particulate matter, and that, therefore, it is appropriate to introduce a review clause in connection with the report on implementation provided for in Article 10;
    • the need for a measure of flexibility, necessary in some circumstances, particularly where these depend on natural causes. However, possible exceptions should be limited and be accompanied by appropriate monitoring procedures and safeguards;
    • the importance of correct, timely and exhaustive information to the public, paying attention, however, not to overburden local administrations with excessive requirements, while ensuring that data, especially those relating to human health, are readily available to the public;
    • that further work, to be conducted at technical level, was needed with a view to reaching political agreement at its next session in June.

    It is recalled that the proposal aims at:

    • setting out limit values for sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead and, as appropriate, alert thresholds for these pollutants designed to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment;
    • assessing concentrations on the basis of common methods and criteria;
    • obtaining adequate information and ensuring that it is made available to the public;
    • maintaining ambient air quality where it is good and improving it in other cases.


    The Council had an orientation debate on the proposal for a Recommendation relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos, submitted by the Commission on 13 December 1995 with Article 130s(1) of the treaty as the legal basis.

    The proposal covers permanent establishments where live animals of species not domesticated in the European Community are kept for exhibition. It includes detailed guidelines regarding, inter alia, the care of animals, safety, species in danger of extinction and the educational aspects, in order to enable zoo operators to achieve certain objectives corresponding to the functions of such establishments.

    During the debate, Ministers addressed the possibility of adopting a directive, as requested by the European Parliament in its Opinion of January 1998, instead of a non-binding instrument

    The President concluded, at the end of the debate, that the Presidency will reflect on the best way forward, having taken note of the positions expressed by Member States.


    The Council adopted conclusions (see Annex) formulating general policy orientations on the main agenda items of the 4th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in Bratislava, 4-15 May 1998 and on the round-table which the Government of Slovakia is convening on 4-5 May on Biological Diversity.


    • "1. The Council recalling its previous conclusions on this matter, confirms the great importance the European Community attaches to the process engaged since the United Nations' Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Council welcomes the work programme that has been established by the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in June 1997 for the work of CSD for the years 1998-2002.
    • 2. In this context the Council recalls in particular the initiatives taken by the European Community at UNGASS for a strategic approach on freshwater, as well as the initiatives on energy and eco-efficiency. The Council welcomes the mandate given to CSD to concentrate during its 1998 session on freshwater and industry.
    • 3. The Council reconfirms the importance the EC attaches to the overriding themes stressed by UNGASS concerning the eradication of poverty, the change towards sustainable patterns of production and consumption and the role that ODA plays in promoting sustainable development.
    • 4. The Council takes note of the outcome of the Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management hosted by the Zimbabwean Government; the Ad-hoc Intersessional Working Groups of the Commission on Sustainable Development on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management and on Industry and Sustainable Development; the Petersberg (Bonn) round table on Global Water Politics - cooperation in transboundary water management hosted by the German Government; and the Paris Conference on Water and Sustainable Development hosted by the French Government.
    • The Ministers present at the Conference reaffirmed the essential importance of an integrated management of water. They encouraged the availability of public and private resources and the education of all stakeholders. They agreed on a final declaration and a programme of priority actions which will be transmitted to CSD.
    • 5. The Council agrees that, at the Commission on Sustainable Development in April, the European Union should press for decisions within existing organizations which advance fresh water management beyond the programme set out in the 1992 Agenda 21 and along the lines of UNGASS 1997. These decisions should include:
      • (a) building on progress made at Harare, Petersberg (Bonn) and Paris meetings on, in particular, regional cooperation, public/private partnerships, technology transfer, cooperation in and resolution of transboundary water resources issues within the river basins framework, taking into account the interests of all states concerned, and the protection of biodiversity and eco-systems and the importance of gender issues;
      • (b) the follow-up should be assured and defined clearly, particularly in relation to the roles of UN Organizations, including UNEP, governments and established international networks;
      • (c) encouragement of water and other relevant industries at national and international levels to establish codes of conducts which can help promote and disseminate best practice;
      • (d) further work to create and to ensure an enabling policy framework that encourages public/private partnerships which promote developing countries' efforts in sustainable development, management, distribution and use of water resources, including the evaluation of water quality and quantity and the access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation;
  • 6. The Council agrees that the European Union should also press for decisions within existing organizations, including UN Organizations, such as inter alia UNIDO and UNEP, which include the following:
    • (a) help establish a process of dialogue between industry (including Small and Medium Enterprises) and all stakeholders at local, national, regional and international levels;
    • (b) encourage among other things the adoption of guidelines and codes of conduct, environmental management systems and measures to achieve improvements in eco-efficiency; and thereby promote transparency and social responsibility in the environmental and social decisions of business;
    • (c) promote the role of private investment as well as multilateral financial institutions in fostering the sustainable development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies, especially to developing countries; and
    • (d) encourage business to operate and disseminate best practice throughout their operations worldwide, taking into account local circumstances .

    • (e) The EU should encourage industry and business community to integrate sustainability in their strategic plans and day to day operations e.g. through actions that address environmental degradation from the production process and from the products.
  • 7. The Council takes note of the review of the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection and notes that they are likely to be referred to the 1999 Commission on Sustainable Development for consideration. The Council also notes there is a need for further preparation of this issue before the 1999 meeting of the CSD.
  • 8. The Council strongly urges Member States to be represented at the Commission on Sustainable Development at Ministerial level, including by Ministers responsible for water, development and industry issues."


    The Council took note of a progress report on the amended proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, presented by the Commission in April 1997.

    The proposal aims at protecting surface water and groundwater in accordance with a new approach based on the concept of river basins. To this end, the proposal establishes common objectives and basic measures. It addresses quality and quantity aspects and advocates protection and sustainable use of water resources. Measures to achieve environmental objectives are to be coordinated and monitored in principle within the river basins. It formalizes the "combined approach" which connects the control of pollution at the source with quality objectives for the environment.

    The Council agreed that work should be pursued with a view to making substantial progress at its next session in June when the opinions of the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee might become available.


    The Council took note of the progress achieved on the proposed Directive relating to a reduction of the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC, transmitted by the Commission on 21 May 1997.

    The proposal is part of the Community strategy to combat acidification and is aimed at reducing emissions of SO2 across the EU by placing restrictions on the sulphur content of heavy fuel oil and gas oil.

    The Council agreed to pursue work in view of achieving progress in the short term, if possible at the June session of the Environment Council.


    "The Council

    welcomes the ongoing efforts to implement the CBD,

    reaffirms the Community's commitment to fulfil its obligations under the Convention

    notes the results of the meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice in Montreal in September 1997, and other meetings conducted under the Convention

    and recalls its earlier conclusions on the Convention on Biological Diversity, in particular on pending issues (item 5) and incentive measures (item 15.1)

    • A. Items on the Agenda of the Ministerial Roundtable on Biological diversity
    • 1. Integrating conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into sectoral activities

    The Council recognises the importance of fully integrating biological diversity concerns into all relevant sectoral activities, if the objectives of the Convention are to be achieved in all walks of life. The elaboration and implementation of biodiversity strategies are of utmost importance for this purpose. The Convention is so wide-ranging in its scope that it will only be fully implemented if such an all-embracing approach is adopted. There is a need for Parties to set an example in such efforts, and learn from each other, but integration is needed also in the work of international and regional organisations; government at all levels including local government; and a range of bodies and processes outside government.

    • 2. Strengthening the role of the private sector in the implementation of the Convention

    The Council affirms the importance of enhancing the participation of the private sector in the implementation of the Convention, in a focused and constructive way, bearing in mind the economic importance of biodiversity, and building on issues such as incentive measures and access to genetic resources where a distinctive private sector interest and contribution can be identified, addressing i.a. the need for this participation to be complementary to actions taken in the public sector. The Council commends efforts to further such involvement, including the WBCSD/IUCN guide "Business and Biodiversity", and looks forward to continued and productive growth in private sector participation in Convention activities.

    • 3. Promoting biodiversity-friendly tourism worldwide

    Given the continued rapid growth in tourism, and its potential for considerable impact on biodiversity, the Council welcomes the chance to consider the role of tourism in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The Council notes the recognition of the importance of sustainable tourism in the programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21 adopted by the UNGA Special Session, and welcomes the contribution made by initiatives such as the Berlin Declaration on Biological Diversity and Sustainable Tourism and the World Conference on Sustainable Tourism, Lanzarote (1995).

    • B. Community Biodiversity Strategy

    The Council takes note of the adoption of a European Community Biodiversity Strategy by the Commission, complementary to the strategies of the Member States, in order to further the implementation of existing Community policy on biological diversity and the integration of biodiversity concerns into the relevant sectoral Community policies and instruments. The Council endorses the approach adopted in the Community Biodiversity Strategy to integrate biodiversity concerns into relevant policy areas and the two steps procedure proposed for its implementation by setting specific policy objectives to be achieved through action plans and other implementing measures. This approach should be highlighted in the dialogue with other Parties. The Council looks forward to detailed consideration of the Strategy in due course. The Council also welcomes the transmission of the Community Biodiversity Report, including a summary of the Strategy, and looks forward to implementation of the Strategy through the elaboration, in 1998 and 1999, of action plans in relevant sectors and policy areas, to be submitted to the Council.

    • C. Items on the Agenda of the Conference of the Parties
    • 1.  Status and trends of the biological diversity of inland water ecosystems and options for conservation and sustainable use (item 6)

    The Council considers that the 4th CoP of the CBD should instruct the Executive Secretary to develop a prioritised multi-year work programme, based on SBSTTA Recommendation III/1 taking into account the role of protected areas, in view of the importance for biodiversity of inland waters, and the threats they face, and the need to integrate biodiversity concerns in all relevant aspects of water management. The Executive Secretary should continue, and further develop, collaboration with other fora relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity of inland waters, including the Ramsar Convention,, to ensure co-ordination of activities and avoid duplication of effort , taking particular account of the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The CoP should also encourage the further development of transboundary co-operation between countries in relation to the conservation and sustainable use of inland water ecosystems.

    • 2  Reports on programmes of work (item 7)

    Taking account of the cost implications of all proposals and stressing that these programmes of work should be action-oriented and undertaken in a general framework which:

    - favours cooperation with all relevant international organisations;

    - facilitates contributions by parties to the implementation of these programmes;

    - guides parties' policy-making.

    2.1 Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biological diversity (item 7.1)

    The Council is of the firm view that the 4th CoP of the CBD should decide on the subsequent development of a programme of work to be carried out under the Jakarta mandate and should instruct the Executive Secretary to undertake this work programme over the next three years.

    The aim of the programme of work is to mobilise urgent action by Parties for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and marine and coastal ecosystems.

    The content of the work programme should build on that adopted in principle under the Jakarta mandate, taking into account the prioritisation by the Executive Secretary in the light of the experts meeting held in Jakarta in March 1997, and elaborated in SBSTTA Recommendation III/2.

    2.2 Agricultural biological diversity (item 7.2 )

    The Council acknowledges the progress made so far in initiating the development of the multi-year work programme on agricultural biological diversity called for in decision III/11. The Community fully endorses the view of SBSTTA in recommendation III/4 that completion of the review of the identification and assessment of ongoing activities at the international and national level is a top priority, and should be accomplished well in advance of the next meeting of SBSTTA. Furthermore the existing cooperation between the CBD Secretariat and the FAO should be expanded to include other international bodies active in this field.

    The Council recognises that the development of, and reporting on, the multi-year work programme is an iterative and phased process. In the first instance, it would like to encourage work programmes which incorporate activities which give particular priority to three coherent aspects of agricultural biological diversity viz genetic resources for food and agriculture, biological production factors, and natural features within the thematic areas identified by decision III/11. In respect of genetic resources for food and agriculture, the Community is of the opinion that the CoP should urge FAO to give high priority to the revision of the FAO International Undertaking on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture which it should endeavour to finalise in 1999, and implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Council acknowledges the progress made within the FAO on both of these issues and considers that they should continue to be dealt with in that forum, but that the COP should be kept closely informed of developments.

    2.3 Forest biological diversity (item 7.3)

    The Council affirms the importance to the implementation of the CBD of the conservation and sustainable use of forest biological diversity, given the crucial role that all types of forests play in conserving global biological diversity, and the extent of the threats forests, and particularly natural forests, are facing. The Council emphasises the importance of collaboration and coherent action at the global, regional and national levels on forest-related issues, for example along the lines of work being undertaken within the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, and the Ministerial Process on the protection on forests in Europe.

    The Council therefore believes that the 4th CoP to the CBD should endorse a rolling three-year work programme on forest biological diversity which takes account of proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, as endorsed by the UNGA Special Session, and is complementary to work underway in the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests . This work programme should take account of SBSTTA's recommendation III/3.

    • 3.  Assessment and review of the operation of the clearing-house mechanism (item 8)

    The Council considers that the 4th CoP of the CBD should require the Executive Secretary to carry out an independent review of the pilot phase of the CHM and draw conclusions to guide subsequent implementation. The CoP should also request that the financial mechanism provide appropriate help in the full development and implementation of the CHM and the strengthening of national biological diversity and related technological information systems. In this respect the Council stresses the importance of Parties implementing policies to ensure their effective participation in the CHM, i.a. through the development of technical and scientific cooperation projects where appropriate in relation to training, capacity-building and technology transfer.

    Where practical and appropriate, guidance should be provided to Parties on standards and structures relevant to the full and effective connection of national focal points to the mechanism, and its ease of use.

    4. Issues related to biosafety (item 9)

    The Council reaffirms its wish to see early conclusion of the negotiation of a Protocol on biosafety and endorses the recommendations of the 4th meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG) to the 4th CoP to the Convention on Biological Diversity in this regard. In particular, the Council considers that the Protocol should be adopted by the end of 1998, but that if this proves impossible adoption should occur no later than February 1999. The Council is aware that the CoP should provide the funds necessary to achieve this timetable.

    The Council recognises the valuable contribution of the present bureau and chairman of BSWG who were appointed by the CoP until the 4th CoP, and recommends that CoP 4 confirms their continuation in this role. The Council considers that CoP 4 should make the necessary provisions for a rapid start to implementation following adoption of the Protocol.

    5. Implementation of Article 8(j) and related provisions (item 10)

    The Council believes it is important for the 4th CoP of the CBD to endorse the further development of a work programme for Article 8(j) and related articles, and to decide on the appropriate process and institutional structure for facilitating the implementation of future work in this area within the Convention, taking into account the result of the Madrid workshop .

    Such work should address the role of indigenous and local communities, as defined in Article 8(j), in fulfilling the objectives of the Convention, and seek to ensure the appropriate involvement of indigenous and local communities themselves along with other relevant groups.

    It is important for any chosen process and structure to be cost-effective and to add real value in promoting the objectives of the Convention.

    • 6. Synthesis of information contained in national reports on the implementation of the Convention (item 11)

    The Council recognises the importance of the first national reports under the Convention, with their focus on implementation of Article 6, in providing an excellent basis for assessing the progress achieved by Parties in implementing the CBD's objectives. The Council therefore welcomes the actions of all Parties who have by now submitted reports, and urges those whose reports are still awaited to compile and submit them as soon as possible.

    The Council looks forward to initial consideration of reports so far submitted at the 4th CoP to the CBD, including by starting to identify any common problems and possible solutions and their relevance to the agendas of future CoPs. The reports will also be of value to Parties in the longer term, by providing information on the progress of work at the national and regional levels, in other international fora, and for stimulating bilateral exchange of information and co-operation. It is therefore important for the reports to be made widely available.

    The Council further believes that it is essential for the future of the CBD that these reports be presented in a far more quantified and specific manner, e.g. through the use of indicators, allowing for a more effective assessment of efforts made towards meeting the objectives of the CBD. In this respect the Council welcomes the ongoing activities initiated by the EEA, the CBD and other fora to develop indicators for biological diversity.

    • 7.  The relationship of the Convention with the Commission on Sustainable Development and biodiversity-related conventions, other international agreements, institutions and processes of relevance (item 12)
    • 7.1  Results of the special session of the General Assembly to review
    • the implementation of Agenda 21 (item 12.1)
    • 7.2  Cooperation with other agreements, institutions and processes relevant to in-situ conservation (Article 8) (item 12.2)

    The Council notes the continuing need for the CBD to work closely with other relevant agreements, institutions and processes, including in the area of Article 8 (in-situ conservation), given the interrelationships between their work and that of the Convention and the need to ensure greater harmonisation of reporting requirements, better coordination of meetings, developing cooperation with other secretariats, and seeking greater scientific cooperation.

    The Council welcomes the outcome of the special session of the UN General Assembly held to review the implementation of Agenda 21, including its restatement of the need for urgent action in response to the threat to biodiversity, its endorsement of a range of action to

    implement the provisions of the Convention, and its encouragement of closer cooperation between the CSD and the Convention.

    8. Review of the operations of the Convention (item 13)

    The Council attaches great importance to the review of the operations of the Convention to be conducted by the 4th meeting of the CoP and considers that this should concentrate on the key areas identified at the workshop held in London from 5 to 7 January.

    The review should therefore:

    • address the role of SBSTTA, as defined in Article 25 of the Convention, including the question of how best to ensure structured scientific input to its deliberations, in a transparent, inclusive and widely accepted way, as well as the interaction with the CoP. For this the Council suggests the CoP considers the possibility of establishing ad-hoc small issue-based panels;
    • consider the way the CBD inter-relates with major groups, given the latter's importance to effective implementation of the Convention at all levels. The CoP should consider ways in which it might better harness the wide range of knowledge, skills and other resources civil society contains, in both policy-making and implementation of the Convention.
    • address the institutional structures of the Convention, and whether their operation could be improved, for example as regards the decision-taking process.

    Finally the Council believes it is important for the 4th CoP to reach decisions on the future programme of work of the Convention. Consideration should be given to the adoption of a rolling programme of work anticipating the next 4 CoPs, to facilitate the participation of all parties and partners, and help achieve a consensus on scientific input. Depending on any decisions on their periodicity, each CoP might have several theme areas, for example one or more among the three CBD objectives, one on a particular ecosystem, and one on a cross-cutting issue.

    In this respect, the Council recognises that the ecosystem approach could be complemented with a biogeographical approach when implementing certain provisions of the Convention, e.g. Article 18.

    • 9.  Financial resources and mechanism (item 14)
    • 9.1  Memorandum of Understanding between the Conference of the Parties
    • and the Council of the Global Environment Facility (item 14.1)
    • 9.2  Activities of the Global Environment Facility (item 14.2)
    • 9.3  Review of the effectiveness of the financial mechanism (item 14.3)
    • 9.4  Review the implementation of decision III/6 on additional financial
    • resources (item 14.4)
    • 9.5  Further guidance to the financial mechanism (item 14.5)

    The Council considers that the Global Environment Facility has performed well as the financial mechanism of the Convention and continues to believe that it should be granted permanent status as that mechanism. The Council notes the synthesis report of the review of the effectiveness of the financial mechanism and the range of comments it contains. The Council notes that only a small proportion of Parties responded to the request for views and that many comments in the synthesis report appear to be unsubstantiated. The Council therefore believes that the 4th CoP of the CBD should not try to use the report to

    draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of the financial mechanism but that it should draw on the full range of relevant sources in reaching conclusions. The Council notes that the Global Environment Facility recently commissioned an independent review of its operations. Many of the issues raised in the synthesis report are addressed very effectively in the overall review. The Council believes that the CoP should take full account of the outcome of the GEF's overall review in considering how to take this issue forward.

    The Community will work to encourage the financial mechanism to further improve its performance and its responsiveness to developing country concerns.

    1. 0.  Measures for implementing the Convention (item 15)
  • 10.1 Incentive measures: consideration of measures for the implementation of Article 11  (item 15.1)

    The Council supports the continuation of the work on incentive measures taking place under the SBSTTA, but also in other international fora, such as the OECD, with a view to the possible implementation of its future outcome, and notes that some instruments including incentives measures,on e.g. habitats and species protection, are already in place in the Community. The Council particularly looks forward to the culmination of work in the OECD to produce a handbook to assist Parties' implementation of incentive measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

    1. 0.2 Public education and awareness: consideration of measures for the
  • implementation of Article 13 (item 15.2)

    The Council welcomes the growing involvement of all major groups in the implementation of the CBD at international, regional, national and local levels. The concept of biological diversity is gaining in recognition, but more needs to be done to explain the purposes of the Convention in clear language, and to convey the wider role the concept of biodiversity plays in sustainable development for example through the implementation of Local Agendas 21.

    The Council recognises that primary responsibility for improving public education and awareness rests with Parties, who are best placed to take into account the particular levels of knowledge, institutional arrangements, and other approaches which characterise their national situation. It will be important to learn any relevant lessons from national reports to the CBD, and to consider how to organise assistance for Parties who may be keen to develop public awareness and education strategies but lack the ability to do so.

    The Council also believes that the 4th CoP to the CBD should consider complementing national efforts through close co-operation with international organisations and existing related initiatives, the development of guidelines and the exchange of experiences where feasible via the Clearing House Mechanism.

    1. 0.3 Impact assessment and minimizing adverse effects: consideration of
  • measures for the implementation of Article 14 (item 15.3)

    The Council recognises the importance of implementing Article 14, and notes the progress already made towards this end by means of both national action by member states and action at the Community level. This includes measures taken in accordance with the Council Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (85/337/EEC), and, more specifically, in accordance with Council Directive 92/43/EEC which requires an appropriate assessment of any plan or project which is likely to have a significant effect on a Special Area of Conservation or a Special Protection Area, established under Council Directive 79/409/EEC.

    Account should also be taken of measures adopted in accordance with other relevant Community legislation.

    The Council looks forward to exchanging information on Article 14 with a view to furthering its early implementation by all Parties, including in respect of activities with transboundary implications.

    1. 1.  Matters related to benefit-sharing (item 16)
      1. 1.1 Measures to promote and advance the distribution of benefits from biotechnology in accordance with Article 19 ('Handling of Biotechnology and Distribution of Benefits') (item 16.1)
        1. 1.2  Means to address the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of genetic resources (item 16.2)
    2. 11.3 Compilation of views of the Parties on possible options for developing national legislative,administrative or policy measures, as appropriate, to implement Article 15 ('Access to Genetic Resources') (item 16.3)

    The Council looks forward to a productive discussion on benefit-sharing. The 4th CoP of the CBD will have the first opportunity substantively to address this important third objective of the Convention.

    The Council recognises the need to take into account related work in all relevant areas and fora, including the OECD Expert Group on Economic Aspects of Biodiversity and the international Workshop '"Best Practices" on Access to genetic resources' held in Cordoba, Spain, on 15-16 January 1998, and to balance theoretical consideration of the issues involved with practical experience from case studies."


    Adopted without discussion.


    Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents

    The Council decided the approval by the Community of the above-mentioned Convention which was signed in Helsinki on 18 March 1992.

    The Convention aims at protecting human beings and the environment against industrial accidents capable of causing transboundary effects and at promoting active international cooperation between the contracting parties before, during and after such accidents.

    Provisions concerning international cooperation are also contained in the so-called "Seveso" directives on the major-accident hazards of certain industrial activities (Directive 82/501/EEC) and on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (Directive 96/82/EEC). As the thresholds for certain substances set out in Directive 96/82/EEC differ from those mentioned in the Annex to the Convention, the Council decided to formulate reservations to the effect that the Member States of the Community, in their mutual relations, will apply the rules of the Directive rather than those of the Convention.

    Convention on the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes

    The Council decided the approval by the Community of the European Convention for the protection of vertebrate animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes which was signed on 10 February 1987.

    The Convention establishes the scientific purposes and the conditions in which experiments on vertebrate animals may be authorized, the aim being to reduce the number of animals used, to keep their suffering to a minimum and to introduce the necessary controls to be applied by national authorities on breeding establishments and on the suppliers and users of laboratory animals.

    The ultimate aim of the Convention is, in the long term, to replace experimentation on animals, as far as possible, by other procedures.

    Prevention of marine pollution - approval of PARCOM Decision

    The Council has decided - with Denmark abstaining - the approval by the Community of the decision taken under the Convention for the prevention of marine pollution from land-based sources to phase out the use of hexachloroethane (HCE) in the non-ferrous metal industry. HCE is a toxic substance which is bioaccumulating in the eco-system.

    Decision 96/1 was adopted by the Paris Commission (PARCOM), the Convention's executive body. It amends two earlier PARCOM Decisions (92/4 and 93/1) by allowing temporary exceptions. These concern aluminium foundries not using more than 1,5 kg of HCE on average per day which turn out specialized products for which there are high quality and safety requirements (e.g. for use in aeronautics). The need for these exceptions shall be reviewed by PARCOM in 1998.

    Decision 96/1 is in line with EC Directive 76/769 on dangerous substances. This directive inter alia also aims to reduce the use of HCE in the Community. Henceforth, the same standards will therefore apply to all Member States, whether they are parties or not to the above-mentioned Convention.

    1979 Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution – Reduction of sulphur emissions

    The Council decided the conclusion, by the European Community, of the Protocol (to the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution) on further reduction of sulphur (SO2) emissions.

    The Community and the Member States are parties to this Convention, drawn up in the framework of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

    Initially a first SO2 Protocol, providing for a 30% reduction in sulphur emissions by 1993 compared with 1980 levels was proposed to the Parties for signing in 1985. The Community was not a party to that Protocol, which expired at the end of 1993.

    In the framework of the Convention, a second Protocol concerning the control of sulphur emissions was then drawn up and signed by the Parties, including the Community, on 14 June 1994.

    This Protocol provides in particular that the Parties must at least reduce and stabilize annual sulphur emissions, complying with a set timetable and with specific ceilings.

    The Council decided that the following declaration will be deposited along with the act of conclusion:

    "The European Community states that the ceiling for emissions and the weighted average percentage for the European Community ought not to exceed the sum of obligations of the Member States of the European Union which have ratified the Protocol, while stressing that all its Member States must reduce their SO2 emissions in accordance with the emissions ceilings set in Annex II to the Protocol and in line with the relevant Community legislation."


    5th Framework Programmes in the field of Community research

    The Council adopted by unanimity its common position concerning the Fifth Framework Program of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities(1998-2002). The common position will be transmitted to the European Parliament for a second reading, in accordance with the co-decision procedure.

    The Council also confirmed its political agreement concerning the Fifth Framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for research and training activities (1998-2002).

    (For both items see Press release of 12 February 1998 n 5583/98 (Presse 26).


    UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

    The Council adopted the Decision concerning the conclusion by the European Community of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 ("Montego Bay Convention") and the Agreement of 28 July 1994 on the implementation of Part XI thereof (regime of the deep sea-bed and its resources).

    The European Community signed the Convention on 7 December 1984 and the Agreement on 29 July 1994, which cover matters falling under Community competence. The Community has been applying the Agreement and Part XI of the Convention provisionally since 16 November 1994, and is currently a provisional member of the International Seabed Authority.

    The Convention and the Agreement stipulate that an international organization may deposit its instrument of formal confirmation if a majority of its members have deposited their instruments of ratification/accession. As to this date twelve Member States have done so,**Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, France, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, UK and Portugal. the EC may in its turn deposit its instrument of formal confirmation.

    The Council's Decision includes a declaration, made pursuant to the requirements of the Convention and of the Agreement, concerning the competence of the European Community with regards to the matters governed by the Convention and the Agreement.

    The Decision finally includes an Annex on the procedure to be followed by the EC and its Member States within the International Seabed Authority.

    Anti-dumping - imports of ammonium nitrate from Russia

    The Council adopted the Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2022/95 imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of ammonium nitrate originating in Russia.

    The rate of the anti-dumping duty is set at 26,3 ECU/tonne.

    Further to a complaint by the European Fertilizer Manufacturers Association, the Commission reopened the investigation into imports of ammonium nitrate from Russia. This reinvestigation showed that the measures did not have their intended effect upon the resale price of Russian ammonium nitrate, due to absorption of the anti-dumping measures in force. Taking into account these conclusions as well as the past history of anti-dumping measures on Russian ammonium nitrate (undertakings previously accepted from the Russian authorities were breached within the first year of their operation), the 1995 Regulation is amended by substituting a specific duty per tonne to the minimum import price previously imposed.


    Extension of the KAROLUS programme

    Following the approval, without amendment, of the Council's common position by the European Parliament, the Council has now definitively adopted the Decision extending the KAROLUS programme.

    The KAROLUS programme on the exchange of national officials engaged in the implementation of Community legislation on the internal market was set up by Decision 92/481/EEC. It provided for a 5-year programme (1993-1997) with a budget of ECU 7,7 million. The purpose of the amendment is to extend the programme until the end of 1999, with additional funding of ECU 4,5 million, and to open it up to officials from the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the EFTA countries and Cyprus.

    In vitro diagnostic medical devices

    Having reached political agreement at its session of 27 November 1997 (Internal Market), the Council formally adopted a common position on the proposed directive regarding in vitro diagnostic medical devices. This common position will now be forwarded to the European Parliament for second reading in accordance with the co-decision procedure. Please see press release no. 12667/97 of 27.11.1997 for more detail.

    Data protection on the information highways - Council of Europe Guidelines

    The Council authorized the Commission to participate, on behalf of the Community, in the negotiations of the Council of Europe Guidelines for the protection of individuals with regard to the collection and processing of personal data on the information highways. The guidelines in question are destined to be incorporated in or annexed to Codes of conduct.

    Food additives other than colours and sweeteners

    Following the agreement reached at the "Internal Market" Council of 27 November 1997, the Council formally adopted, by a qualified majority, the common position on the amendment of the Directive on food additives other than colours or sweeteners (Directive 95/2/EC). The German, Austrian and Danish delegations voted against the text and the Belgian delegation abstained.

    The common position will now be forwarded to the European Parliament for second reading according to the codecision procedure.

    For more detail on this amendment to the food additives directive, see press release no. 12667/97 of 27.11.1997. The voting explanations of the Belgian, Danish, German, Swedish and Austrian delegations can be found in Annex 1.

    ANNEX 1

    Explanation of the Belgian delegation's vote

    The common position which the Council has adopted on the proposal for a Directive amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners is unsatisfactory in the view of the Belgian delegation on three counts. For that reason the Belgian delegation abstained from the vote on the common position.

    The proposal does away with the planned increase from 600 to 1 200 mg/kg for SO2 used in dehydrated apples and pears that are to undergo a second process. Belgium believes that that increase complies with the conditions laid down in framework Directive 89/107/EEC for the use of additives (technological need, no danger to health, demonstrable advantages for the consumer). Directive 95/2/EC as it stands at present also provides that SO2 can be used in quantities of up to 2 000 mg/kg for dried grapes, apricots, peaches, plums and figs.

    The use of nisin is forbidden for pasteurized eggs, but not for mascarpone. Belgium considers that the use of nisin is justified on the technological level for both pasteurized eggs and mascarpone.

    The proposal authorizes the use of thaumatin in non-alcoholic drinks and desserts. Belgium does not consider it desirable to use this flavour enhancer in those products.

    Explanation of the Danish delegation's vote

    The Danish Government cannot record agreement on the Council's common position since it is reluctant to extend the use of sulphite and nisin in foodstuffs.

    The fact that Directive 95/2/EC concerning additives other than colours and sweeteners authorizes the use of sulphite already results, in the Danish Government's view, in a level of absorption of sulphite by consumers which is inconsistent with the recommendations of the Scientific Committee for Food. It is therefore inappropriate to extend the authorization to use sulphite.

    Nisin is a substance comparable to antibiotics. The Danish Government considers that such substances should not, as a matter of principle, be included in foodstuffs.

    Explanation of the German delegation's vote

    The German delegation regrets that additives E 500 (sodium carbonates), E 338 (phosphoric acid), E 339 (sodium phosphates), E 340 (potassium phosphates), E 341 (calcium phosphates), E 343 (magnesium phosphates), E 450 (diphosphates), E 451 (triphosphates) and E 452 (polyphosphates) have been generally authorized for soured-cream butter although there was no technological requirement which justified it. The German delegation believes that the additive E 500 (sodium carbonates) and the phosphates actually used should be authorized only for specific products in the manufacture of which such substances are traditionally used in Sweden and Finland.

    Point 4(d) of the Annex is not a satisfactory solution for the fixing of a maximum level of SO2 for dehydrated apples and pears containing more than 12% water. Those products are marketed both in the Member States and internationally and with SO2 of up to 1 500 mg/kg of the product. Unfortunately no account has been taken of that fact.

    Explanation of the Swedish delegation's vote

    The proposal also provides for the authorization to use a number of food additives in foodstuffs for healthy infants and young children. Sweden considers that additives should as far as possible be restricted in foodstuffs for babies, in particular babies between birth and three months of age, in respect of whom scientific opinions on food additives are not applicable from every point of view. The additives currently referred to in the proposal are not, however, such as to endanger children's health and can therefore be accepted.

    Explanation of the Austrian delegation's vote

    • –Regarding the general authorization of the addition to soured-cream butter of the sodium carbonates and the phosphates listed in Annex IV
    • As already stated in the recitals to Directive 95/2/EC, it is generally accepted that certain foodstuffs should be free of additives. Butter in particular is indisputably a product that one is entitled to expect to meet such a purity requirement, particularly as in Austria – just as in other Member States, evidently – there is no technological requirement that would justify the use of such additives. Austria would have no objection to the addition of phosphates and carbonates to Swedish and Finnish butter only (which is obviously necessitated by technological considerations).
    • –Regarding the extension of the authorization of thaumatin for water-based flavoured non-alcoholic drinks and desserts, dairy and non-dairy
    • The assessment of thaumatin carried out by the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) in 1988, in the course of which, inter alia, the possibilities for its use, limited from a technological point of view, were insisted on, was based on a totally different assumption concerning exposure to this product.
    • The conclusions of that study are no longer relevant to the extension of the authorization of thaumatin.
    • In the absence of a further, prior assessment by the SCF the use of thaumatin in the foodstuffs in question, which are also, furthermore, consumed in large quantities by children, should be ruled out.

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