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Council set to back EC plan to withdraw green policies

EU member states look set to approve the European Commission’s 2015 work programme, including its controversial decision to withdraw or modify major environmental policy proposals.

In a draft agreement for the General Affairs Council on 10th February, a list of proposed "withdrawals and modifications” were tabled and did not criticise the Commission’s approach or any individual decision.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission plans to alter two major environmental policy initiatives tabled by its predecessor. It will withdraw the circular economy package, a set of ambitious waste and recycling policies, replacing it with a new proposal. And it will amend a proposal to extend and strengthen the National Emission Ceiling Directive on air pollution limits.

A number of member states have previously come out against these decisions.

The stalled Energy Taxation Directive linking fuel taxes to CO2 emissions and energy content will be axed, and a contentious proposal to strengthen organic farming rules might be dropped too.

“The Commission's approach of thoroughly reviewing the relevance of pending proposals is in line with the general objective of better regulation,” the draft Council position states, adding that the work programme has a welcome focus on “well-targeted priority initiatives” that reflect the EU’s “strategic agenda”.

However, the statement makes it clear that member states want to be kept in the loop for future Commission decisions of this type. The Council looks forward to strengthened dialogue with the Commission for next year’s work programme, and “encourages the Commission to...engage in timely consultations with the co-legislators”.

Friends of the Earth Europe said it was very disappointing that member states had rowed back on their earlier support for keeping the existing circular economy package on the table.

Issue 39