Issue 31

January/February 2014

The European Parliament has approved new public procurement rules that will give more weight to environmental considerations in the awarding of contracts in the water, energy and transport sectors. The new legislation, which was already agreed with the Council of Ministers in June 2013, overhauls the current EU public procurement rules and for the first time sets common EU standards on concession contracts to boost fair competition and ensure best value for money by introducing new award criteria that place more emphasis on environmental considerations, social aspects and innovation.

In a follow-up to Green Week 2013, the Commission launched shortly before Christmas 2013 a new policy package aimed at protecting air quality in Europe. It includes:

A Natura 2000 Award has been launched by the European Commission to recognise best practices for nature conservation in Europe.  Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas of high biodiversity value that covers around 20% of EU territory from mountainous areas to wetlands and beaches and coastal estuaries which are home to a wealth of flora and fauna.

The European Commission is taking Slovenia to Court for its failure to comply with the requirements of EU waste legislation. The Commission's concerns relate to two illegal landfills containing hazardous waste, one near the centre of Celje, and another nearby Bukovzlak. The case concerns large quantities of polluted soil originating at a 17-hectare contaminated brownfield site in Cinkarna, Celje, Slovenia's third largest town. High levels of toxic heavy metals have been detected at both sites. This infringement concerns breaches of the Waste Framework Directive and the Landfill Directive.

Helping consumers make sustainable choices is at the heart of the latest phase to the European Commission's 'Generation Awake' campaign. The campaign aims to make consumers aware of the consequences their consumption patterns have on natural resources, illustrating the benefits if they choose to act differently. The campaign’s interactive website, where cartoon characters show the environmental impact of everyday purchasing decisions, is available in all 24 official EU languages.

The Commission has launched a public consultation on how the EU can be more effective in combating wildlife trafficking. This comes in response to a recent global surge in poaching and illegal wildlife trade, which is now at unprecedented levels for some species. More than 1000 rhinoceroses were poached in South Africa in 2013, compared to 13 in 2007, with a rhino horn now being more valuable than gold.

Food waste in the Netherlands remained constant on 2010 levels last year despite a national target established in 2009 that targeted a 20% reduction by 2015. According to data released recently by the Dutch environment ministry, household food waste amounted to around 66 kilograms of food waste per capita in 2013, of which 47kg could have been eaten. This represents 13.6% of food purchased and is almost identical to the level of waste reported in 2010.

The European Commission has announced an ocean energy action plan in European seas and oceans by 2020 and beyond. As part of the two-step action plan, the European Commission will set up an Ocean Energy Forum, a lead body to guide EU support for research and innovation in ocean energy.

14 member states have successfully managed to adopt national waste prevention programmes in time before the deadline of 12th December 2013 set out under the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). The legislation foresees plans being evaluated at least every six years. Member states have been able to incorporate these into their national waste management plans, other environmental policy programmes, or establish them as separate programmes.