Future of air quality and waste laws splits European parliament

15th January 2015

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  • Waste ,
  • Minimisation ,
  • Recycling ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Air


David Holden

Plans by the European commission to water down new air and waste legislation will proceed without input from the parliament after negotiations between the political groups on a joint resolution collapsed.

The political parties discussed the possibility of a joint resolution yesterday. Environmental campaigners had hoped that a joint resolution would send a strong signal to the commission that it should not withdraw or dilute proposed EU air quality and recycling targets.

But the centre-right EPP and Conservative ECR groups decided not to take part. A spokesperson for the ECR said that once the EPP, the larger of the two main conservative groups, had decided there were insufficient grounds for a joint motion it also withdrew from the process.

"As this would clearly have shifted the centre of gravity towards the 'left wing' groups it became clear to us that we would not be able to support a joint text so we then withdrew. We did not leave the talks as a result of any language over the air quality or circular economy packages," he said.

"The liberals, left wing and centre-left groups had an opportunity to submit a joint resolution, which would almost certainly have given them a sufficient majority to pass their resolution, and clearly decided not to," he added.

EPP and ECR then negotiated their own joint resolution. It supports the commission's decision to modify plans for new air quality rules, but calls for them to "strictly follow the smart regulation agenda and facilitate better implementation". It also wants the commission to outline the timescale and process for the modified proposals on waste and the circular economy.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, lead negotiator for the Liberal group on the new air quality limits, commented: "Conservative MEPs have utterly failed to stand up for measures to improve air quality and resource-efficiency.

"Unfortunately, what could have been a strong, united position from the European parliament has collapsed due to narrow political interests," she said.

However, Green 10, which represents environmental organisations in Brussels, including the European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace and WWF, pointed out that the five non-conservative groups in the parliament, representing over 60% of MEPs, had all opposed the commission's plans to water down environmental legislation in their individual resolutions.

Petr Hlobil, chair of the Green 10, said: "The erosion of political support for the Juncker commission over plans to withdraw draft legislation to clean up air and reduce waste should trigger a radical rethink."


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