Issue 52

November - December 2016

Speaking recently in Brussels, Malta’s deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech, spoke of the challenges facing the EU and the Maltese Presidency in early 2017.  He spoke of the need for the EU to address the uncertainties, fears and inequalities that are being felt by Europe’s citizens. On the 1st January, Malta will take over the rotating presidency of the EU for 6 months.  During their Presidency, the United Kingdom is expected to invoke Article 50 and France and the Netherlands both have national elections.

A review of the Emissions Trading Scheme is underway in the EU Council today (19.12.2016).  The discussions in Council follow a last-minute compromise on the way forward secured in the European Parliament’s environment committee last Thursday.  Final Plenary approval is needed in February 2017 for the formal negotiations between MEPS and Member States to get underway in the Spring for a deal to be found on the way forward.  One of the key problems that the European Commission’s proposal seeks to address is the problem facing the ETS scheme with a surplus of allowances that has built up in r

Whilst overshadowed by the US election result, negotiators to the Marrakech climate conference remained upbeat in their conclusions following the COPP 22 round. Almost 200 countries met in Morocco for the annual UN gathering, against the backdrop of the rapid ratification and entry into force of the landmark deal. With the Paris Agreement coming into force on the 4th November 2016, the COP22, the Marrakech climate conference (COP22), dubbed the Action and Implementation COP, was characterised  by a more practical approach to put words into action.

In an attempt to set aside a protracted controversy surrounding the environmental damage caused by biofuels, the European Commission came under heavy criticism after proposing to phase-out conventional biofuels by 2030. The Executive presented its draft proposal to review the Renewable Energy Directive for the post-2020 period as part of a Clean Energy Package.  The European Commission has alluded to the fact that its revised Renewable Energy Directive will scrap reference to “at least 10%” renewable energy in the transport sector.

The European Parliament adopted the European Union budget for 2017 at €158 billion including significant increases for tackling migration crisis and terrorism.  The 2017 budget has been set at €157.86 billion for programmes and projects spanning more than one year, compared to €155 billion in 2016 with six billion euros – 11.3% more than in 2016 – to tackle the migration crisis and security.

Following agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the new directive setting National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) has been agreed setting stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe. The new legislation will enter into force on 31 December 2016. Member States will have until 30th June 2018  by which time the new Directive will reduce by almost 50% the negative health impacts of air pollution, such as respiratory diseases and premature death, by 2030.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker took the decision last Tuesday to postpone measures to boost the mobility of service providers across the EU.  Instead the package will be debated on January 11th in Brussels.  Jyrki Katainen, Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth and Investment, and his colleague Elżbieta Bieńkowska, in charge of the Internal Market, were expected to announce a series of initiatives last Tuesday to improve the functioning of the decade-old Services Directive.  In a debate that is of great interest to Environment and Energy professionals acro

On 16th December, the European Commission published its final evaluation on the 'Fitness Check'  of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives (the 'Nature Directives'). Having collected over half a million consultation responses, it concluded that, within the framework of a broader EU biodiversity policy, the Directives remain highly relevant and are fit for purpose.

A new European Environment Agency (EEA) report calls for greater efforts to prevent the build-up of hazardous waste across Europe.​ The EEA report investigates the effective implementation of Member State’s waste prevention programmes. It looks at the different waste streams that are considered to be most dangerous to human health and the environment. This latest study looks at current trends in hazardous waste generated both throughout the EU based on the latest data available. It provides an overview of waste prevention objectives, targets, indicators, and measures.

Last week saw the publication of the European Commission’s report reviewing the effectiveness of the EU approach to shale gas. The report focuses on a 2014 recommendation calling for minimum principles for shale gas. Member States were invited to follow these principles to address environmental risks posed by high-volume hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). The report seeks to review how successful the 2014 recommendation has been and which Members States have followed the guidance.