Dutch outline EU presidency ambitions

11th February 2016

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Miki Brocklehurst

The circular economy is a priority for the Dutch government, which started its six-month presidency of the EU in January.

‘Sustainable growth involves more than just reducing CO2 emissions. Not only does our economy need to become climate neutral, it also needs to become circular, which entails a cycle in which economic goals converge with the responsible (re)use of raw materials and energy,’ it said in a statement.

The European commission unveiled its circular economy package in December and the Dutch government is keen to get agreement from member states on a non-legislative action plan ahead of the meeting of the environment council on 20 June. It also plans to hold talks on definitions and targets for recycling under the package. EU environment ministers will first debate the circular economy package at a meeting on 4 March.

The Dutch presidency also wants to follow up the UN climate summit (COP21), held in Paris in December 2015, by making progress on further reforms to the EU emissions trading system (ETS). In July 2015, negotiations started on the commission’s proposals for phase four of the ETS after 2020. Conservative MEP Ian Duncan was appointed rapporteur for the reforms by European parliament and is expected to develop amendments by mid-June, ahead of the environment council meeting that month. In the second quarter of 2016, the commission is expected to propose new national targets for further CO2 emissions reductions in non-ETS sectors, including transport and buildings, and the Dutch government says it will strive to make progress in these negotiations.

Another ambition for the Dutch presidency is the revision of the National Emission Ceilings Directive (2001/81/EC) and getting agreement on new legally binding caps for 2030. One sticking point is binding interim targets for 2025, which the parliament has demanded but which the commission says should only be indicative.

The Dutch will also pursue its ‘Make it Work’ initiative, which it is running with the German and UK governments, aimed at delivering more consistent and effective EU environmental legislation. This will run alongside the commission’s fitness check programme, which has been evaluating the EU Birds and Habitats directives and whether actions required by the legislation are proportionate to their objectives, and will shortly examine reporting obligations under EU environmental law. ‘In elaborating Make it Work, the Netherlands will focus attention on alternative ways of steering developments besides legislation,’ said the Dutch government.


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