First Vice President Timmermans surprised me this Tuesday (25 September 2016) when he announced the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2017. He made me proud to be a European.
Time to Enforce Our Environmental Laws
For the first time in more than 25 years he highlighted the importance of implementing and enforcing European Environmental Law and the Single Market rules. I have been following this issue since 1995 and things have not been improving. The reality is that European environmental law is badly implemented and enforced in many countries. This problem is not just confined to the new member states. People in the know have know about this for years. Most of them have kept quiet. And, instead of fixing the core legal and regulatory challenges, people in the know have gone on and piled new laws onto top of old.
That merry go round has stopped. I am sure a lot of people will be upset that the legislative train is not full of new proposals. The excitement of working on new laws is an exclir for many, me included, and the grinding it out work of sound and thorough implementation and enforcement on the ground is of less excitement to many. But, it is that side of the work which actually secures the vitally important improvements in environmental protection and public health.
What is Going Forward
First, the law making train is not coming to a halt. Existing legislative proposals and initiatives on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive and ETS continue their review and scrutiny by the European Parliament and Member States. Policy review and development for Chemicals under the REACH Regulation continues.
Second, proposals announced under previous Work Programmes that have not been adopted continue through the normal adoption process, that is Regulatory Scrutiny Board & Inter-Service Consultation inside the Commission. This includes: New Electricity Market Design, Energy Union Governance, Review Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Review of Energy Efficiency Directive, RED II. Their fate, namely whether they are put forward as formal proposals, will be decided by the internal workings of the European Commission. Of course, if the Commission decide not to table these proposals, they can not be tabled.
Unlike in previous years, there is no hint of environmental proposals or laws being withdrawn or repealed.
What Happens Next
The European Commission, European Parliament and European Council, will agree a Joint Declaration of Priorities in line with the Inter-Institutional Agreement. This will happen in December 2016. The proposals will come out in 2017.
When the proposals are adopted I will update this blog.
Summary of Key Environmental Measures in the European Commission’s 2017 Work Programme
Circular Economy – see item 2
- A strategy on plastics
- An initiative to address legal, technical or practical bottlenecks at the interface of chemical, product and waste legislation
- A monitoring framework for the circular economy
Measures on Water:
- a proposal for a Regulation on minimum quality requirements for reused water
- a REFIT revision of the Drinking Water Directive
A more strategic approach to enforcement of EU Environmental law – see item 21
Non-legislative initiatives to address: ensure proper implementation and enforcement of environmental regulations, environmental compliance assurance, access to justice
Modernization of Comitology Procedures – See item 20
- Proposals to align the rules for secondary legislation to the updated Treaty rules – the long awaited Omnibus exercise agreed to in the Inter-institutional Agreement on Better law Making
- A widely announced non-legislative “assessment of the democratic legitimacy of existing procedures for the adoption of delegated and implementing acts”. This is to address sensitive substance authorizations, such as glyphosate, when Member States fail to come to a decision on a substance authorization.
Implementation of the EU Global Strategy – See item 17
Efforts to foster amongst other things, environmental/climate resilience in third countries