Issue 19

Newsflash

January 2013

Nearly 25 000 km2 of invaluable natural expanse have been added to the Natura 2000 network. This network of protected sites is the EU's primary tool in the fight to conserve Europe’s rich biodiversity. The Commission has now formally approved the inclusion in the network of a further 235 sites, proposed by Member States for recognition as "Sites of Community Importance". Member States will have six years to put the necessary measures in place to protect these sites. READ MORE

The EU’s Outermost Regions, Countries and Territories located globally are home to exceptional biodiversity, but are also very vulnerable to climate change. BEST 2012, the Voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas, has selected 7 projects from the 42 applications that aim to promote conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services, including ecosystem-based approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation.

The European Environmental Bureau is seeking experts to assist with EU level work on specific products, sectors or substances. These include:

The European Union has not forgotten the commitments made at the Rio+20 conference six months ago according to Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik. This year, the European Commission will publish results of the follow-up work, six months after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. Rio+20 ended without any major binding commitments by participating countries and progress on climate change is far from visible.

More than 40% of €6.2bn in available EU funding for waste management was unspent at the end of 2011, money that will be lost forever if member states fail to secure it by 2015. Czech, Poland and Romania had more than €330m each still available in cohesion policy funding for waste, while Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Italy had more than €200m each at the end of 2011, according to the European Commission.

During the Irish Presidency, member states will discuss changes to several EU laws including the environmental impact assessments (EIA) directive. Newsflash reader s will recall that the Commission proposed changes to the EIA directive last October, which could speed up the process of carrying out an EIA. From the European Commission’s proposal made on 26th October 2012, the revised text seeks to take into account several European Court of Justice rulings, including one clarifying that demolition works are covered by the law.

According to the latest research, a majority (56 %) of Europeans believe that air quality has deteriorated in the last 10 years. That is the headline statistic to emerge from a recent Eurobarometer survey called Attitudes of Europeans towards Air Quality’ – that shows strong support for further action at the EU level.

Securing a deal with MEPs on the Seventh environmental action plan (7EAP) is the top environmental priority for the Irish Presidency during its EU six-month term of office that started in 1st January 2013.

On the 18th December the European commission adopted the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water. The SIP sets out priority areas where solutions are needed. The plan envisages Action Groups having a role to draw up tools and mechanisms that promote innovation in water policies and technologies.