Nature laws should not be weakened says Timmermans
The review of the EU’s nature laws now underway should not lead to their being weakened, European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans told MEPs on 9th of March. Mr. Timmermans told the European Parliament’s environment committee that he was “not in favor of lowering the standards” set out in the Birds and Habitats Directives after MEPs pressed him to clarify the Commission’s intentions. Vice-president Timmermans (who is in charge of better regulation) suggested that implementation at national level was the source of problems rather than the directives themselves. Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella has said that the purpose of the review, carried out as part of the Commission’s regulatory fitness check program, is to improve implementation without compromising on the directives’ goals. Mr Timmermans also sought to reassure MEPs that the Commission is committed to tabling a new circular economy package that would be more adaptable to differing national circumstances. Another aim was to make it coincide with the first start of the projects in the framework of the Juncker investment plan arguing that circular economy projects should be put in a pole position to get financing from the new EU investment fund. A proposal on waste targets and policies, a core piece of legislation in the circular economy package proposed by the previous Commission, was officially withdrawn last month. The Commission has said it will table a broader package including a roadmap of initiatives to address the production and use phase of products and to develop a market for recycled products. Mr. Timmermans also sought to clarify the status of the air package, where the Commission has said it will modify a proposal to tighten national emissions ceilings. The Commission will “look at possible amendments” once the Parliament has finished its first reading, he confirmed. Mr. Karmenu Vella stated that the European Commission will issue a “state of nature” report in the coming weeks and hold a conference on the current review of the Birds and Habitats Directives in September 2015.