Ambitious EU policy proposals on air and waste look set to be scrapped as part of a major overhaul of Brussels’ environmental agenda.
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Waste targets and policies tabled by the last Commission as part of the circular economy package will be withdrawn because of “no foreseeable agreement” between member states and MEPs, according to a leaked draft of the European Commission’s 2015 work programme seen by ENDS.
It is not clear from the document whether a revised circular economy package will be tabled.
A proposed update to national emission ceilings, the centrepiece of last year’s air quality package, will also be cut. It will be replaced with a modified proposal as part of new legislation on the 2030 climate and energy targets. The related Medium Combustion Plants Directive proposal appears to have been spared the axe.
The draft sets out some new initiatives for 2015, including a strategic framework for the ‘energy union’ that will encompass a revision of the EU emissions trading scheme for 2030. As expected, a review of the decision-making process on genetically-modified organisms is also in the pipeline, in light of the majority view of member states.
Many proposals will be scrapped on the grounds that they are obsolete or the Commission considers no agreement will be possible.
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker plans to replace some proposals with new ones or “tailor” them to fit his priorities, he told leading MEPs at a private meeting on Thursday.
The stalled Energy Taxation Directive will be cut as member states have stripped it of any substance during negotiations, the draft states.
Planned stronger rules for organic farming that have caused controversy among member states and a position on designating the Baltic Sea as a Nitrogen Oxide Emissions Control Area will also be scrapped.
Critics said Mr Juncker’s plans are a major concession to lobby group BusinessEurope, which has said it wants the circular economy package re-tabled as economic rather than environmental legislation.
Pieter de Pous of European Environmental Bureau said withdrawing the circular economy package on the grounds that there is no foreseeable agreement just six months after it was published represents a “mind-blowing” waste of resources.
UK resource and waste management sectors and manufacturers teamed up to express their dismay about the impending fate of the circular economy package, which they say has “huge potential for green job creation, resource security, environmental protection and economic growth”.
The draft could still change before it is finalised by the Commission on Tuesday.