Janez Potočnik

EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik confirmed in a statement last week that he will stand down at the end of his term in October.  Slovenia’s outgoing government, that lost a snap general election in July, did not name Mr Potočnik among its three nominees for the country’s new Commissioner under the next European Commission to be headed by Jean-Claude Juncker.  Mr Potočnik is widely regarded as a committed advocate of environmental protection.

Green Week 2014 took place in Brussels between 3 and 5 June under the theme Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency & Waste. During the conference, there was a clear consensus that binding waste targets set at EU level are necessary to drive the change from a linear to a circular economy.

An ENEP delegation led by Kristof De Smet, President of the European Network of Environmental Professionals (Belgium), met with Commissioner Potočnik this month to discuss ENEP’s role as a complimentary communication network to contribute to the equal and effective application of EU environmental law.

As part of the ongoing consultations and key feedback from members on the new Presidential strategy, Unite and Inspire, ENEP has initiated a meeting with Commissioner Potočnik to discuss the role of ENEP as a complimentary communication network that can contribute to the equal and effective application of EU environmental law as set out in the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP), which will be guiding European environment policy until 2020 and aims, amongst others, “to maximise the benefits of Union environment legislation by improvin

With the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted in 2008, the EU wants to ensure the protection of the whole marine environment and the achievement of ‘Good Environmental Status’ for Europe’s seas by 2020. As this year Member States are halfway through the timetable of the Directive, the Commission recently held the HOPE (Healthy Oceans – Productive Ecosystems) conference to reflect on the main challenges and potential solutions to protect the planet’s marine ecosystems.

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.

 A report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) gives an overview and analysis of air quality in Europe from 2002 to 2011. It reviews progress towards meeting the requirements of the air quality directives and gives an overview of policies and measures introduced at the European level to improve air quality and minimise impacts. It also details the latest findings and estimates of the effects of air pollution on health and its impacts on ecosystems.

At a conference in Brussels on the role of plastic waste in a circular economy, Commissioner Potočnik argued, “let’s keep the fantastic and get rid of the drastic”. Potočnik spoke of the need for the Commission to examine carefully the use of plastic and its disposal. There is a pressing need to reduce the amount of production of plastic items that are thrown out immediately. The speech was part of DG Environment’s focus on waste and follows the publication of green paper on plastic waste. The European Parliament is expected to produce an opinion on the green paper soon.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, will receive the coveted United Nations Champions of the Earth prize for his policy leadership and work to promote resource efficiency and combat food waste. The prize - the UN's highest environmental accolade - is awarded to leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a significant and positive impact on the environment.

Commissioner Potočnik met with ENEP and EFCA representatives on Friday 7th June before giving his closing address to Green Week 2013.  In his speech “Only one air”  the Commissioner  summed up the week on air by confirming that leading health experts had confirmed the strong scientific evidence for negative health effects from air pollution , Climate change experts underlined the need to address air pollution and climate change in parallel, experts had outlined the dangers of black carbon and methane emissions, that pub