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Final Environment Council of Greek Presidency to meet on 12th June 2014

In this the final Environment Council of the Greek Presidency the main focus will be on climate and health-related points in the morning before moving on to environment issues after lunch. The main climate point will be a public debate on the policy framework on climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030. The main health point will be the Commission's GMO cultivation proposal. Over lunch, ministers are expected to discuss the recently adopted Commission Communication on Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda.

The main environment points in the afternoon are as follows:

An orientation debate on the Clean Air Package

Ministers will hold an orientation debate on the Clean Air package adopted by the Commission in December last year (see IP/13/1274). The package contains a new Clean Air Programme for Europe, with measures to ensure that existing targets are met in the short term, and new air quality objectives for the period up to 2030, with measures to help cut air pollution, improve air quality in cities and promote international cooperation.

To deliver on these objectives, the package contains a revised National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive with stricter national emission ceilings for six pollutants, and a proposal for a new Directive to reduce pollution from medium-sized combustion plants (MCP), which are not covered by current legislation.  Two questions on the proposed MCP Directive will focus on the degree of flexibility desirable for the Directive, and the extent to which the proposal is appropriate to close the existing regulatory gap. Two further questions on the proposed revision to the NEC Directive will gauge Ministers' support for the two-stage approach it contains (i.e. with measures for 2020 and 2030), and for the proposal to reduce air emissions from agriculture, a sector where there are substantial cost-effective reduction possibilities.

2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies

The Council will hold a public debate on the climate and energy policy framework for 2020-2030 presented by the Commission in January (see IP/14/54). The framework aims to make the EU economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable. The Commission proposes that, by 2030, the EU reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % below 1990 levels through domestic measures alone and increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27 %.

GMO Cultivation

The Council will discuss a compromise text prepared by the Greek Presidency on the Commission’s GMO cultivation proposal, with a view of reaching a political agreement.

The European Commission will also be providing updates on:

  • The state of play regarding EU ratification of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment  period and monitoring and reporting CO2 emissions from large ships
  • An update on the Commission proposal to cut plastic bag use
  • Information from France on endocrine-disrupting substances
  • Sweden will provide an update on its situation in relation to highly fluorinated substances

The Commission will also report on the outcome of the recent high-level conference on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) held in Brussels.

See video for the recent Informal Council Meeting of EU Environment Ministers, Athens – 14/05/14: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I089407&videolang=INT&devurl=http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player/config.cfm

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Issue 34