Sun. Mar 26th, 2023

Brussels, 16 March 2023

Industrial emissions

Ministers reached a general approach on a proposal to revise the industrial emissions directive.

The directive is the main EU instrument regulating pollution from industrial installations and large intensive livestock farms. The revision proposes further efforts to reduce pollution in line with the aim of the European Green Deal to reach a zero-pollution, competitive, climate-neutral economy by 2050.

Pollution causes serious diseases and damages the environment. The EU’s goal for 2050 is to bring pollution down to levels no longer harmful to human health. The Council agreement reached today on industrial emissions sets stronger rules to tackle pollution at the source. This will set pollution limits at more effective levels and give clear guidance to the industry and large livestock farms to make the right investments so that their pollution is effectively reduced.

Romina Pourmokhtari, Swedish minister for climate and the environment

Carbon removal certification

Ministers held a policy debate on a proposal to set up an EU certification framework for carbon removals.

The proposal aims to facilitate the deployment of high-quality carbon removals in the EU, covering permanent carbon storage through industrial technologies, carbon farming and carbon storage in products.

The purpose of the debate was to provide guidance for future work within the Council on the proposal. Ministers exchanged views on how an EU certification framework can contribute to increasing high quality carbon removals in the EU as a complement to sustained emission reduction efforts. They also discussed the main opportunities and challenges of the proposal.

Member states welcomed the aim of the proposal to further incentivise carbon removal activities in the EU but concurred that more discussions will be needed on the fundamental aspects of the proposal.  A majority of member states also underlined that while carbon removals will play an increasingly important role in the EU’s climate policy the main focus should nonetheless remain efforts to reduce emissions and decarbonise the European economy.

Packaging and packaging waste

Ministers held a policy debate on the proposed revision of EU legislation on packaging and packaging waste.

The proposal aims to tighten existing rules on prevention, reduction and recycling of packaging and packaging waste. Among other things, it proposes to reduce packaging waste by 15% by 2040 per member state per capita and to make all packaging on the EU market recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030.

The aim of the debate was to give political guidance to the work within the Council.

Ministers were invited to share their views on the overall ambition of the proposal and which elements they consider to be the most adequate and timely in this regard. Ministers were also invited to identify what the most important measures are in their view to drive packaging waste prevention and foster innovative solutions in the EU.

Urban wastewater treatment directive

Ministers held a debate on a proposal to revise the urban wastewater treatment directive.

The directive aims to reduce pollutants in rivers, lakes, groundwaters and seas, by improving wastewater treatment, while introducing the polluter pays principle, energy neutrality targets and increasing reuse of nutrients.

Ministers were invited to share their views on the appropriate level of ambition to address the remaining sources of pollution from urban wastewater, and on the inclusion of an extended producer responsibility scheme and energy neutrality targets in the proposal.

Member states welcomed the revision as it aims to provide the concrete means to better protect the health of European citizens and the environment. Details regarding proposed deadlines and requirements remain to be further clarified at technical level.

Other business

Over lunch, ministers exchanged views on Greening the European Semester. The presidency will incorporate the key messages of the debate in the joint synthesis report for the March European Council. The report will summarise all European Semester-related debates that took place in the sectoral Council formations.

Under other business ministers heard from Austria on a regulation of plants obtained by new genomic techniques.

Poland informed ministers about a report on the impact of military operations on the natural environment in Ukraine.

Ministers heard from Germany on the International World Chemicals Conference.

France informed ministers on a treaty on the elimination of plastic pollution.

The Commission presented its recent proposal on CO2 emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles to ministers.

Source – EU Council


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