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Environmental Council

Volume 555: debated on Thursday 13 December 2012

My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for resource management, the local environment and environmental science, Lord de Mauley, will represent the UK at the EU Environment Council in Brussels on 17 December. Environment Ministers from the devolved Administrations will also attend.

At this Council, Ministers are expected to adopt non-legislative Council conclusions on “A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources”. This is the European Commission’s new strategy to make water use more sustainable in the EU and to ensure good quality water for human needs, economic activities and the environment. The majority of the blueprint actions are non-regulatory measures such as producing new guidance documents, integrating EU water policy into other EU policies and improving enforcement of existing EU legislation. There is only one possible new legislative proposal, which relates to maximising water reuse.

The presidency will then lead an exchange of views on “Greening the European Semester”. The publication of the annual growth survey on 28 November 2012 signalled the start of the third European semester. The annual growth survey 2013 will be discussed at various EU Councils in preparation for the spring European Council in March 2013. At this Environment Council, discussion will focus on the bottlenecks hindering the achievement of Europe 2020 resource efficiency objectives, and on identifying the measures in the field of resource efficiency and climate action which have the biggest potential to contribute to growth and job creation.

Over lunch, Ministers will have the opportunity to exchange views on the outcome of the climate change conference which recently took place in Doha, Qatar, and the way forward to the second Kyoto commitment period.

In the afternoon, there will be a legislative orientation debate on the seventh environment action programme (seventh EAP). The proposals were first presented on 29 November, and include nine priority objectives for policy development in the period up to 2020. The orientation debate at Council will examine whether the seventh EAP meets expectations and addresses the shortcomings identified in the sixth EAP, if it covers the current and emerging environmental challenges, and whether the nine priority objectives are adequate and pragmatic. It is expected that the presidency will want to seek early agreement from member states on the headline messages of the programme.

The following topics will also be covered under “any other business”:

Information from the presidency on the progress of work regarding the proposed regulation on the new LIFE programme.

Information from the presidency on a proposal for a directive on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy (priority substances).

Information from the presidency on a proposal for a directive amending directive 2011/92/EU of the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.

Information from the presidency on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union-level relevant to climate change.

Information from the presidency on a proposal for a decision on accounting rules and action plans on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities related to land use, land use change and forestry.

Information from the presidency and the Commission on the outcome of the 18th conference of the parties to the United Nations convention on climate change (COP18) and eighth conference of the parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto protocol (CMP8) (Qatar, 26 November-7 December 2012).

Information from the presidency on proposals to amend the regulations defining the modalities for reaching the 2020 target to reduce CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles and from new passenger cars.

The EU emissions trading scheme and aviation, including information from the Commission on the carbon market report, and information from the Polish delegation on proposed changes in the volumes of greenhouse gas emission allowance to be auctioned in 2013-20 (backloading), and the impact on budget incomes.

Information from the Irish delegation on the work programme of the incoming presidency.