Pierre Moscovici, the French Commissioner, speaking on behalf of the EU executive, at the closing session of the Paris Clean Air Forum said that Member States inaction is a key brake on efforts to improve air quality. In particular, he criticised Member States for not having been bold enough to introduce green taxes. Whilst some Member States were seeking to modernise their tax systems as a means to decarbonise their economies and comply with the recently agreed climate targets, not enough was been done across the Member States and in particular no immediate plans for fiscal reforms that could address air pollution at local level. He underlined that the European Commission could not lead the fight against air pollution alone and the support and political will of national governments was vital to move forward. Moscovici reminded the forum delegates that the European Commission had seen its efforts in 2015 for Member States to collect more revenues from polluting sectors through green taxation rebuffed at that time. A recent medical journal published evidence showing that Air pollution was responsible for more than 400,000 deaths a year in the EU alone.
Karmenu Vella meanwhile spoke of the need to tackle automotive and agricultural sectors and the emission of dangerous particulate matters. He underlined in his speech the important work of the European Environment Agency and the need for partnerships between EU, Member States and cities and regions if we were to success in bring air pollution down. He confirmed that in 2018 the Commission would host an Eco Innovation Forum dedicated to clean air.Air qualityParisEuropean Commissionnewsflash: Issue 56
Last week, at the Paris Clean Air Forum, attended by Bruno Weinzaepfel from AFITE, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency launched their new Air Quality Index and an Air Quality Atlas.The Air Quality Index has a user-friendly interactive map that shows the local air quality situation, based on five key pollutants that harm people's health and the environment: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ground-level ozone(O3),nitrogen dioxide(NO2) and sulphur dioxide(SO2). Displaying real-time data for the whole of Europe, the new Index allows citizens to find out how clean the air is that they are breathing. Users can zoom in or search any town or region in Europe to check the local air quality situation. The Air Quality Atlas provides information on the geographical and sectorial sources of air pollution for the 150 biggest cities in Europe. It shows that pollutant emissions in cities originate mainly different human activities; and that transport, agriculture, industry and residential heating and responsible for the largest part. Designed to help implement the EU Air Quality Directives, the Air Quality Index and the Air Quality Atlas will help citizens and policymakers better understand the levels of air quality in their own environments. Currently, the directives define and establish standards for ambient air quality for key pollutants which have to be reached by all Member States across their territories. Member States then decide on the means to achieve these standards, but they have to make sure that periods during which they are exceeded are kept as short as possible. The Directives also set common methods and criteria to assess air quality. Member States must report 'up to date' air quality measurements, as well as information on their plans and programmes to meet the standards set out by the Air Quality Directives, to the European Commission and the general public. EU air quality standards and targets are breached in many regions and cities, and public health suffers accordingly, with rising costs to health care and the economy. The total external health-related costs to society from air pollution are estimated to be in the range of €330-940 billion per year.Air qualityParisEuropean CommissionEEAnewsflash: Issue 56
The 21st European Forum on Eco-innovation will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 5-6 February 2018. The Forum will examine eco-innovative solutions for improving air quality. It will bring together companies and public authorities that have already succeeded in developing and deploying effective new technologies, or innovative business and governance models, with those who are looking for such solutions and practices. Efforts undertaken by governments, cities and businesses to implement the Ambient Air Quality Directives can still be greatly boosted by the use of new innovative solutions like advanced technologies for household heating, implementation of strategic urban mobility plans, or pioneering ways to reduce pollution from farming practices. To support the European Commission seeks to stimulate eco-innovation in this area so that more accessible, applicable and cost effective products, services and models are created, tested and widely deployed in European countries. In particular, air pollution originating from energy use, transport and agriculture will be addressed. The issue of how to secure financing for eco-innovative solutions will also be prominently discussed. This event will be jointly organized by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment and the Ministry of Environment and Water of the Republic of Bulgaria.Eco-innovationAir qualitynewsflash: Issue 56
EU Emissions Trading System: landmark agreement between Parliament and Council delivers on EU's commitment to turn Paris Agreement into reality
The European Parliament and Council have today reached a provisional agreement to revise the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for the period after 2020. This revision will contribute to put the EU on track to achieving a significant part of its commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme puts a cap on the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by more than 11,000 installations in the power sector and energy intensive industry through a market-based cap and trade system. The deal includes:-
- Significant changes to the system in order to speed up emissions reductions and strengthen the Market Stability Reserve to speed up the reduction of the current oversupply of allowances on the carbon market;
- Additional safeguards to provide European industry with extra protection, if needed, against the risk of carbon leakage;
- Several support mechanisms to help the industry and the power sectors meet the innovation and investment challenges of the transition to a low-carbon economy.
With final approval from the European Parliament and the Council, the revised EU ETS Directive will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enters into force 20 days after publication.ETSnewsflash: Issue 56
With the first of the two-year cycles of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) published in February 2017, MEPs have given their verdict (in the form of a resolution) on this first cycle and outlined their expectations for future rounds. The EIR identifies widespread compliance problems in a wide variety of environmental legislation due to financial capacity of the environment ministries or their access to key competencies. Motivated by recent Eurobarometer polls, the European Commission points out that more than 75% of European citizens find EU environmental legislation necessary for protecting the environment in their country, with nearly 80% agreeing that the EU institutions should be able to check that environmental legislation is being applied correctly in their country. The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is a two-year cycle of analysis and dialogue to improve the implementation of existing EU environmental policy and legislation. The EIR is designed to complement the ongoing implementation efforts such as ensuring compliance and infringement procedures. It offers a coherent framework to tackle common implementation challenges and will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ahead of the next two year review (scheduled in 2019), MEPs have called on the European Commission to monitor implementation progress in new areas including:-
- hormone and medicine residues in waste water,
- surface water and groundwater and their effects on drinking water,
- human health and biodiversity in the next review,
- Greater use of scoreboards that could be easily visible by the public.
- industrial emissions and;
- national action on climate change
More than half of the EU’s Member States are failing to share crucial information about highly-polluting activities effectively online. Many are failing to meet even the minimum requirements for transparency required by EU law. In research published recently by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) looked into 26 EU Member States, Norway and a number of regional authorities and has found a huge divergence in the quality and quantity of information available. Researchers looked for the minimum information required by the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, a key European law that’s supposed to help reduce pollution and raise standards across a range of big industries. The law requires authorities to publish operating permits online alongside a justification for the permit being issued and certain other specific information. Some Member States went further and shared significant amounts of other relevant data, including details data on the quantity and type of pollution being emitted. The information concerned includes permitting conditions for all major industrial plants in the EU, including coal-fired power stations, large waste incinerators and intensive agricultural facilities. The findings pose serious questions about some countries’ commitment to European environmental protections and compliance with international access to information requirements.industrial emissions directiveIndustrynewsflash: Issue 56
The European Parliament held a lively public hearing last week on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”, on 20th November. The hearing comes at a key moment as the European Commission is appealing the Member States rejection of a 5-year licence renewal for glyphosate from the 15th December 2017 when the current one expires. The hearing was organised by the Committee on Environment, Public health and Food Safety, together with the Committee on Petitions, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. It comes as a direct response to the ECI that gathered 1.3 million signatures calling for legislation to ban glyphosate, introduce mandatory pesticide reduction targets and reform EU scientific evaluation procedures for pesticides. During the hearing, the Commission representatives underlined that they would not be swayed by pressure from the agrochemical industry to re-approve glyphosate but that there is presently no legal or scientific basis for a ban of the controversial pesticide. In the debate that followed, campaigners complained that the conclusion reached by EU agencies for chemicals (ECHA) and food safety (EFSA) that there is no cancer risk associated with glyphosate were flawed despite a WHO report to the contrary. The European Commission representative from DG SANTE said though that there was no scientific or legal reason for a ban in the context of pesticides legislation. A number of MEPS in the debate called for the licence renewal to be based on scientific evidence only and that the spreading of misinformation was not helping anyone. Other MEPs called upon the Commission to stand up for the precautionary principle to protect over 100 million Europeans who are exposed to the chemical. Closing the debate, Health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis replied that he was not a man to be pressured by big industry on questions like these. He recalled how he had been arrested by the KGB in a previous life and imprisoned… making a parallel with the principle corporation behind glyphosate who he said would not sway his decision. The Commissioner underlined that the executive would follow the rule of law and would formally respond to the citizens initiative in the months ahead.ECIGlyphosatenewsflash: Issue 56
Food systems have to be aligned with environmental sustainability and the circular economy with the focus being shifted from downstream recovery to cutting oversupply. That is the view of a new Italian environment agency study published last week. The study defines food waste as that which ‘exceeds dietary requirements and ecological capacities. Under this definition, it is estimated to represent 60% of food energy in Italy, and 63% in Europe. Food waste has emerged recently as one of the major environmental and socio-economic issues that humanity faces. Analysis on the subject are at the early stage and the concordance on methodologies need to be developed. This report reviews international literature and analyses the most relevant links between food wastage and other issues, such a land/soil, water, energy consumption, degradation of biological integrity, climate change, alteration of the nitrogen cycle, food safety and sovereignty, circular bioeconomy, in order to build a socio-ecological vision.Feed wastecircular economynewsflash: Issue 56
The 2018 European Commission work programme (ECWP2018) was published on the 24th October and confirms the Commission’s intention to push three overarching themes next year. In the ECWP2018, the European Commission commits to finalising all its proposals before May 2018 in order to allow the European Parliament and European Council to negotiate and adopt proposals before the campaigns for the 2019 European Parliament elections get underway in the Autumn of 2018.
On the Climate and environment front the will bring forward new proposals including:
- a Reflection Paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, covering the follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change" (non-legislative, in Q2 2018)
- the launch of its new high level Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) multi-stakeholder platform that will be chaired by First Vice President Franz Timmermans.
- Adopt 5 measures to stimulate the implementation of the Circular Economy action plan adopted last year including
a strategy on plastics use, reuse and recycling (non-legislative, Q4 2017);
a proposal for a Regulation on minimum quality requirements for reused water (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Art. 192 TFEU, Q4 2017);
a REFIT revision of the Drinking Water Directive (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Art. 192 TFEU, Q4 2017);
an initiative to address legal, technical or practical bottlenecks at the interface of chemical, product and waste legislation (non-legislative, Q4 2017); and
a monitoring framework for the circular economy (non-legislative, Q4 2017)
- an initiative on sustainable finance
Last week, during a marathon meeting running into the early hours, the EU institutions reached an agreement on the 2018 EU budget for the European Union directing money to where the needs are. The biggest part of the EU budget will go to stimulate the creation of jobs, especially for young people, and to boost growth, strategic investments and convergence. The EU will also continue supporting the efforts to effectively deal with the migration challenge, both inside and outside of the EU. Nearly half of the funds - €77.5 billion in commitments – will go to making our economy stronger, our universities more competitive, our companies better equipped to compete on the global market place. This includes, €2 billion to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Juncker Plan, €354 million will support small and medium-sized companies (Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, COSME programme) and €11.2 billion will go to Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation funding programme. A total of €55.5 billion will go to boosting growth, job creation and fostering convergence in all Member States and regions via the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds). Young people will get more support and better opportunities to find jobs thanks to €350 million for the Youth Employment Initiative, a key action which seeks to address the challenge of youth unemployment in our Member States. Support to European farmers in 2018 amounts to €59 billion. Further to the launch of the European Defence Fund, €40 million are budgeted to fund collaborative research in innovative defence technologies and products. With €25 million already allocated in 2017, the total EU budget devoted to defence research until 2019 amount to €90 million. Nearly €4.1 billion will be dedicated to managing migration and tackling security challenges. With the bulk of funding already frontloaded, the total for these policy areas will amount to €22 billion in the 2015-2018 period. This annual budget forms part of the overall 7 year Multi Annual Financing Framework agreed between all Member States for the period 2014-2020 into which the overall forecasts for 2017 were first confirmed.
Overview of the EU budget 2018 (in million €)
AMOUNTS PER CATEGORY
(nominal change in % compared to 2017)
commitments to pay out funds to specific initiatives
payments forecast for the period covered by the budget
1. Smart and inclusive growth:
Competitiveness for growth and jobs
Economic, social and territorial cohesion
2. Sustainable Growth: natural resources
Market related expenditure and direct aids
3. Security and Citizenship
4. Global Europe
Other special Instruments
144,681 (+14,1%)Tags: eu budget2018newsflash: Issue 56
The European Commission and national governments are currently considering options for a shorter renewal period for Glysophate, a controversial agricultural herbicide, after the European Commission’s proposal to extend the permit for glyphosate for ten years was rejected this week in the European Parliament. Although not legally binding, the European Parliament’s resolution this week calling for a full phase-out of glyphosate before 2022 heaps pressure on the member states to call for an outright ban in response to widespread public concern across the EU. Further discussions will now take place between the institutions before the legal deadline for renewing the permit for use Glysophate crop spraying in the EU expires on the15th December 2017. The non-binding resolution was adopted by 355 votes to 204, with 111 abstentions. EU member states will vote on a Commission proposal to renew the marketing authorisation of glyphosate on Wednesday. A European Citizen’s initiative calling for a ban on the herbicide reached more than a million signatures in less than a year and will trigger a public hearing in Parliament in November.GlyphosateEuropean ParliamentEuropean CommissionEuropean Councilnewsflash: Issue 55
Sustainable Development and circular economy to move to the core of the economic agenda of EU according to this week’s work programme for 2018 published by the European Commission
In its latest 2018 work programme published this week (24/10) will signal a focus on two key issues between now and the end of the current European Commission mandate in 2019 that of Sustainable Development and the Circular Economy. On sustainable development, the work programme proposes issue a Reflection Paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, on the follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change" (non-legislative, Q2 2018) The reflection paper comes as the Commission prepares to launch its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) multi-stakeholder platform that will be chaired by First Vice President Franz Timmermans. The proposals seek to respond to criticism from NGOs and civil society that the Commission has not done enough following the pub lication of its White Paper on the Future of Europe to put sustainable development at the heart of its five scenarios for the future of the EU which lacked reference to sustainability. With the end of the current European Commission mandate in sight, the executive is now bowing to pressure for the EU to realign its priorities around an agenda of transformational change, one that puts the interests of people and planet first in the context of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris climate deal. NGOs have gone one step further by producing a new 6th scenario as a contribution to the Future of Europe debate –a SUSTAINABLE EUROPE FOR ITS CITIZENS. It is predicated on sustainability sitting firmly at the heart of the European project, with the EU27 prioritising the interests of citizens, in the EU and beyond. In its second major priority for 2018, and as a follow up to the 2017 Circular Economy Action plan, the European Commission will turn its attention to implementation of the Circular Economy. In its so called “Delivering an action plan for the Circular Economy” the executive envisages:
1. This includes a strategy on plastics use, reuse and recycling (non-legislative, Q4 2017);
2. Regulation on minimum quality requirements for reused water (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Art. 192 TFEU, Q4 2017);
3. REFIT revision of the Drinking Water Directive (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Art. 192 TFEU, Q4 2017);
3. An initiative to address legal, technical or practical bottlenecks at the interface of chemical, product and waste legislation (non-legislative, Q4 2017); and
4. a monitoring framework for the circular economy (non-legislative, Q4 2017)EC Work Programme 2018SDGscircular economynewsflash: Issue 55
MEP’s have expressed that the agreement on EU sustainable development goals are not challenging enough to facilitate the environmental change that is necessary amongst the EU member states. The MEP’s have had a longstanding issue with the agreed goals that the Commission has applied, believing that they are inconsistent and will not work in the long run. The MEP’s are requesting that the Commission not only work to improve the execution of the sustainable development goals, but also to develop the goals in that they will have a larger focus on clean water and biodiversity. The MEP’s also request that the European Investment Bank utilise its power by dedicating 40% of its loans to necessary climate projects by the year of 2030. Some lawmakers of S&D claim that the structure that the EU’s industrial agriculture sector is built on simply does not allow the EU to reach its environmental goals as a whole. An S&D group drafted a resolution regarding EU sustainable actions and obtained 446 votes to 57.MEPsSDGsnewsflash: Issue 55
The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is a tool to improve implementation of EU environmental law and policy. It aims to address the causes of implementation gaps and try to find solutions before problems become urgent. TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER is designed to share expertise between national, regional and local public authorities in charge of implementing EU environmental law and policy within the EU Member States. TAIEXis the "Technical Assistance and Information Exchange" Instrument, a peer-to-peer exchange tool of the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. Established more than twenty years ago, TAIEX has supported public administrations in the Enlargement and Neighbourhood countries in the approximation, application and enforcement of the EU acquis. TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER builds on this successful and well-established tool and applies it to environmental laws and policies in the context of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR). It does so by helping public officials involved in such activities to exchange knowledge, good practice and practical solutions for concrete problems, thus improving their administrative capacity and ensuring better results for the implementation of EU policies on the environment.
TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER can finance
Expert Missions: EU Member State experts can be sent to institutions in other Member States that have requested peer advice and exchange of experience on a specific topic. Expert missions can last between two to five days.
Study Visits: employees (maximum three) from a requesting institution can be sent on a working visit to other EU Member State institutions to learn from peers and exchange good practices. Study visits can last between two to five days.
Workshops: single or multi-country workshops can be organized in a requesting institution. Workshops would normally last two days.
Who can participate?
The assistance is provided at request of public institutions involved in the implementation of EU environmental policy and law in the EU Member States, such as:
National, regional and local departments and agencies
Inspection and audit authorities
Networks of experts involved in environmental implementation and enforcement
Member States have voiced concern with the Ecolabel and EMAS schemes stating that they are actually holding the states back in making environmental progress rather than assisting them in moving forward. They state that there is an ‘administrative burden’ and that the systems are not performing on as large a scale as expected. Ecolabel was implemented to create an incentive for Member States to create more environmentally friendly products by allowing producers and importers to apply for the label of their products. There is a strict EU Ecolabel criteria for labeling produts, and this is where Member States have voiced concern. They believe that the criteria is too complicated and the scheme could be more effective if it was simplified. This is something that the Commission is going to change, while also making sure that the project is still effective. Karmenu Vella has stated that the system has been successful environmentally. EMAS is a system that intends to assist companies in evaluating their sustainable and environmental progress. The continuance of EMAS is contingent on the support that the system receives from Member States. The Commission relayed a report to the Member States of an evaluation of the Ecolabel and EMAS schemes, concluding that there should be an improvement in the systems to ensure sustainable progress.EMASnewsflash: Issue 55
The next edition of EU Green Week will explore ways in which the EU is helping cities to become better places to live and work. Showcasing policy developments on air quality, noise, waste and water management, it will promote participatory approaches to urban development, networking schemes, and tools for sharing best practices, engaging local authorities and citizens, and encouraging them to share their vision of a sustainable future. EU Green Week 2018 will include events across Europe, a high level conference and exhibition in Brussels will take place from 22-24 May 2018, and Opening and Closing events (21 and 25 May) to take place in the Member States. The main message of these events should be that any city can become greener, and that real changes are eminently possible. Tools such as participatory approaches to governance should be promoted, demonstrating how cities can engage with stakeholders and develop a shared vision for the urban environment, with potential pathways towards that future. Events focusing on governance and involving citizens and other actors will therefore be favoured. These High-Level Opening and Closing events are currently the subject of a call to cities interested in hosting these events.Green Week 2018newsflash: Issue 55
France has been one of the leading countries in illegal nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) levels for a significant amount of time. France received a ‘final warning’ from Brussels in February to reduce its NO2 limits because it was continuously breaching EU NO2 regulations. As a result, the sustainability group ‘Friends of the Earth’ brought the case to the French Court to raise awareness of the situation. The case was then brought to the French Government as an order to implement a new strategy to lower NO2 levels. France’s most authoritative legal group, the Conseil d’État, adopted the case from the Court to ensure that action is taken. The goal is bring emissions below the longstanding limits that were set by the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive. There have been some positive developments, as the French Government has pledged to abolish sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.Issue 55
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has researched the effects that the ban on neonicotinoid has had on bees. Neonicotinoid is an ‘insecticide’ that paralyzes and kills insects. Recently, a ban for the product was implemented with the intention to protect the bee population, but research, beginning in 2014, has proved that the remaining residue from the pesticide may have an even greater negative impact than direct use on the insects. Activists state that a full ban of neonicotinoid must be implemented in order to save bees. There were MEP objections to the ban, but it will be implemented in November.
READ MORETags: Beesnewsflash: Issue 55
The European Environment Agency has voiced concern over the limited actions that Member States are taking to reduce pollution in the EU. Many countries are not complying with set EU limits for ammonia levels, including Germany, Spain and Sweden. Additionally, there are 14 Member States that will not meet the 2030 reduction targets for fine particulate matter. The EEA is concerned that Member States will continue to fail to meet EU targets, which would have counterproductive results on the entire effort. The EEA’s research concluded that 22 Member States will not meet at least one of the reduction goals for 2030. Stagnating pollution levels are the result of pig and poultry rearing, road transport, and failure to reduce nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and sulphur dioxide.Pollution reductionEEAnewsflash: Issue 55
The programme of greening payments to farmers may no longer have the benefit of being exempt from future EU budget cuts. This programme, under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), will be forced to make significant changes because it may be subject to budget cuts, similar to other EU programmes. Research has shown that these direct payments to farmers have made up over a quarter of the multi-annual budget between 2014 and 2020. Over the summer, the European Commission, prepared a ‘reflection paper’ on how the income and expenditure sides of the EU budget may change in light of the UK’s departure from the European Union. The paper claims that Brexit will lead to new systems for the EU’s revenue stream given that the UK’s contribution amounts to 14% of the overall seven year framework for 2014 to 2020.eu budgetfuture of europenewsflash: Issue 55