Different level of performance and starting positions: EU Council debated on waste

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European Council (Foto: The Council of the European Union)

Luxembourg — Yesterday, the European Council held a public orientation debate on a legislative proposal amending six directives addressing the management of different types of waste. The aim of the proposal is to improve waste management in the European Union, with a view to protect the quality of the environment and ensuring prudent and rational use of natural resources.

More specifically, it reviews the legally binding targets contained in directives 2008/98/EC on waste, 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste and 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste with a view to improving resource efficiency in line with the Resource Efficiency Roadmap and the 7th Environment Action Programme. Other proposed measures include harmonisation of definitions and calculation methods, simplification of reporting requirements, setting minimum operating conditions for Extended Producer Responsibility, and the setting up of an early-warning system to monitor target compliance.

The proposal forms part of the Commission’s Circular Economy Package (presented in July 2014), which also comprises a communication on Towards a circular economy: A Zero waste programme for Europe and a communication on Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector. The ministers‘ discussion was based on three questions prepared by the presidency.

The Ministers generally welcomed the thrust behind the Commission proposal which is considered to be in line with the 7th Environment Action Programme and the goals of the 2020 strategy. Ministers however expressed concerns with the level of ambition of the proposal and called for realistic and achievable targets on reuse, recycling and landfilling.

Delegations also underlined the need to take into account specificities of member states and their different level of performance and starting positions. They expressed the need to further clarify some issues such as the calculation methodologies and definitions. The idea behind the proposed early warning system was generally welcomed but the system needs further work so as to minimise administrative and financial burden on member states. Delegations also raised concerns with the frequency of reporting.

Source: EU Council