The EU’s Environment Agenda 2018

Yesterday, the Commission published their 2018 Work Programme.

I was anxious. I was at the airport when the proposals were adopted.  An airport departure gates is not the best place to digest a bulky set of new proposals. I need not have worried.

The Commission’s Work Programme for 2018 is a master-piece in brevity.  It looks like half through his mandate, President Juncker is shutting up shop. He has slashed the amount of proposals from the Commission by around 80% and delivered on 80% of his priorities. By the end of 2018 he’ll surely have hit 100%.

The Work programme is slim on the Environment  front. Reference is made to developing the battery infrastructure, evaluating the 2012 bio-economy strategy, including broadening the scope, but it is not developed.

The existing legislative programme continues and there were no repeals or withdrawals on the environment front. This means the circular economy package upgrading the following existing legislative updating continues:

  • Directive 2000/53/EC on end of-life vehicles
  • Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators
  • Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment
  • Directive 2008/98/EC on waste
  • Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste
  • Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste

From a 20 year historical perspective, the work load is emaciated.

Indeed, whether these proposals land up coming out the door is another thing. They’ll still have secure a positive impact assessment before the May 2018 deadline. After that, it appears people will have to wait until 2020 and a new Commission before anything new will  be tabled.

Recalling the lessons outlined by J.Kingdon (see here), my best advice is to start preparing now for the next Commission, with clear and persuasive briefings for any new legislation/measures you may want. They start work on 1 November 2019 so  you have the time to prepare. Indeed, as all outgoing Commission’s do, they will hand over a whole set of ideas for initiatives to the next Commission. Work on that will start the summer of 2018. Then Mr. Barnier and his new team can choose their new agenda.

 

2018 Work Programme

Item 1

  • Strategy on plastics use, reuse and recycling – non-legislative – end of Q4 2017
  • Proposal for a Regulation on Waste Water Reuse – legislative – end Q4 2017
  • REFIT Revision of the Drinking Water Directive – legislative – end Q4 2017
  • Monitoring framework for the Circular Economy – non legislative, Q4 2017
  • Communication to address legal, technical or practical bottlenecks at the interface of chemical, product and waste – non-legislative – Q4 2017

Item 2

  • Proposal for a Multi-annual Financial Framework beyond 2020 (Q2 2018) followed by proposals for the next generation of programmes and new own resources – legislative,  Q2 2018

Item 3

  • Reflection Paper ‘Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030’ on the follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change –non-legislative Q2 -2018

I have listed the Commission’s finances (Item 2)  as this will be the biggest issue. The EU can no longer balance their books. They need to cut spending to deal with Brexit by 15% and to balance the books by 30%.  Tough decisions will need to be taken.

 

This light work load will have two obvious impacts:

First, MEPs will have a lot more time to review delegated legislative proposals.

Second,  Member States will introduce national measures in place and ignore the European order.

 

REACH ban challenge falls – but closer than many thought

This morning the European Parliament  Environment Committee voted on Julie Girling’s (UK/ECR) challenge against the listing for authorisation of Triton X-100 under REACH.

The vote was closer than many expected: For 23, Against 34, 1 abstention.

It is the closest any challenge has got to date. I recall a challenge against the phase out of lead in crystal by Swarovksi glass many years ago. It came to nothing.

Challenges usually succeed when a cross party group of MEPs from the S&D, Greens, radical left, and Liberals work together (often with the far right). But, to be fair, challenges are very rare, and successful challenges even rarer. We are talking about cases happening at the margins.

The  EPP have a rule not to support challenges to authorisation listings under REACH.

I don’t think there was a roll call vote for today’s vote. If there is I will update this blog.

This case was peculiar. The reason for the challenge was more with a view to influence the Commission for a longer grant for continued permitted use of an otherwise phased out substance. Julie Girling, a respected British Conservative MEP, who serves as the liaison with ECHA supported the challenge. This was not a frontal challenge against a substance being listed.

I will have to wait longer until the Environment Committee, who lead on REACH matters, launch a successful challenge against a REACH authorisation listing. However, as these are implementing acts, the Commission does not have to follow the EP.

Time will tell if the tactic works and the Commission grant a longer period for continued use after the official phase out. To date, the longest so far is 12 years. That can be renewed.

Is there an alternative?

Coming in this stage is a last resort. There must be an alternative? I think there is. I was chatting with one of Europe’s leading experts on chemical regulation. I asked them how a substance, vilified by many NGOs and many politicians, had walked away from microscopic independent scientific review.

The answer was the substance had lots of world-class scientific studies and data, going back decades, that they handed over.

They brought in world-class scientific experts to present the science clearly and answer all and any questions clearly, humbly, and helpfully.

They stuck to the science, did not verve off message and talk about socio-economic impacts, and played the game as it was meant to be, and not how most people do.

After many hundreds of pages later one of the most disliked substances of the 20th century walked away.

Many may find it strange for a political consultant to suggest such a staid and scientific approach. I think you should keep the “dark arts” for the very few times when they are needed. That’s usually when, for exceptional  reasons,things go wrong.

For 99% of the time, I just hope the science is followed, and the rules of the game are followed to the letter. Lobbyists and politicians are not very good at deciding at what science is.

I hope more people go for the dull approach.

 

triton

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation in 2016 – A review

This is a follow update of my review of the work of the Environment Committee’s scrutinising of delegated legislation in 2015. You can find that piece here.

 

Method

I have reviewed the agenda of each meeting of the Environment Committee in 2016. For each challenge to a delegated legislative proposal,  I have tracked the success at the Committee and Plenary (via Vote Watch) stage.

I will update this blog when the Commission and European Parliament publish their annual activity reports.

Insights

Summary of Challenges by the Environment Committee in 2016

In 2016, the Environment Committee were notified of the following measures (these numbers need to be validated – there is ):

  • 1521 Implementing Acts
  • 27 Delegated Acts
  • 366 RPS – Regulatory Procedures with Scrutiny measures

There is significant difference in the numbers reported on the Commission’s website. It reports(see here) 138 delegated acts in 2016 overall, 1494 implementing acts with committee control (comitology) and 123 RPS measures.

The European Parliament Environment Committee met 20 times in 2016. At 9 meetings there were 15 objections:

  • 4 objections against pesticides
  • 2 for insecticides
  • 7 GMOs
  • 4 regarding food products.

Even though the Environment Committee is active in scrutinizing the Commission’s delegated legislative output, the percentage of proposals they call in to challenge is very low. 15 objections out of 1914 proposed measures is a challenge rate of 0.7%. The idea that Environment Committee is “activist” on their scrutiny of comitology proposals is not borne out by the data.

1  objection amounted to a veto (see baby food – challenge 15).

The EP only has an effective veto on RPS measures and Delegated Acts. As most proposed measures are Implementing Acts, with the Parliament being unable to block a proposal, the Parliament have evolved their tactics. The glyphosate case showed the EP acting early  to inform the Member State Committee before hand. This challenge led to, or was part of the reasons,  that led to European Commission changing their original 15 years renewal to an 18 months technical extension with other conditions on use attached.  The challenges against GMOs (implementing acts) led to no  changes to the measures.

For delegated legislation,in all likelihood, whatever the Commission put out the door, will be adopted. Challenges are noticeable because they are so rare, successful challenges rarer.

In 2016, the Environment Committee focussed on a few areas: GMO, pesticides, and baby food.  These are all sensitive areas of public policy so it is not a surprise that they receive scrutiny. In 2015, challenges also concerned other hazardous substances and broader food issues.

The EPP have little success in blocking proposals they have not supported in the Environment Committee. Rather, the decisive step appears to be when the S&D splits at the margins.

Resolutions launched by the ENF do not pass the Committee stage.

Single MEP initiatives do not have a good track record of success.

Many resolutions that succeed are launched as cross party efforts at the Committee stage and that coalition is kept going in the plenary.

Meetings in 2016

 

Challenge 1: Meeting  7 November 2016, 15.00 – 16.15. Item 7:  Objection pursuant to Rule 106 : Renewing the approval of the active substance bentazone

Rapporteur: Pavel Poc (Czech/S&D)

Challenge: Implementing Act

Committee resolution here.

Decision in Committee: For 30,  Against  21, Abstention 1.

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date of vote: 23.11.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary:  For 361, Against 289, Abstentions 28

Threshold:  326

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Visual Summary


 

 

Voting by Group Summary

 

 

 Challenge 2:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016;  Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize Bt11 (SYN-BTØ11-1) seeds

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes (Belgium/ Greens/EFA), Guillaume Balas (France/S&D (, Lynn Boylan (Ireland/GUE/NGL), Eleonora Evi (Italy/EFDD) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP).

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee Adopted: In favour: 37; Against: 18; abstention(s): 1.

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of Vote: 6.10.2017

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary: For 360, Against 190, Abstentions 35

Threshold: 289

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Visual Summary

Vote by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 3:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016: Item 7. Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize 1507 (DAS-Ø15Ø7-1) seeds

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Sates (Belgium/ Greens/EFA), Guillaume Balas (France/S&D (, Lynn Boylan (Ireland/GUE/NGL), Eleonora Evi (Italy/EFDD) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP).

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee. Adopted: In favour: 39; Against: 17; Abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date: 6.10.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary: For 375; Against 193;Abstentions 36

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, ECR, EFFD, ENF

Vote watch visual

 

Vote by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 4:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Renewing the authorization for the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 (MON- ØØ81Ø-6) seeds

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes (Belgium/ Greens/EFA), Guillaume Balas (France/S&D), Lynn Boylan (Ireland/GUE/NGL), Eleonora Evi (Italy/EFDD) Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland/EPP).

Committee  resolution here
Decision in Committee. Adopted: For: 37; Against: 19; abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch summary here

Date of vote: 06.10.2016

Resolution adopted here.

Vote in Plenary: For 372; Against 181; Abstentions: 46

Threshold:277

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D, ECR, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

 

Vote by Group Summary

 

Challenge 5:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton 281-24-236 × 3006- 210-23 × MON 88913 (DAS-24236-5×DAS-21Ø23-5×MON-88913-8)

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Sates, Guillaume Balas, Lynn Boylan, Eleonora Evi Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: For: 39; Against: 17;

Plenary Vote Watch summary here

Date of vote: 6.10.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote: For 384, Against 169, Abstentions 39.

Threshold: 277

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

Vote by Group Summary

 

Challenge 6:  Monday 3 October 2016 – Monday 3 October 2016. Item 10 Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810 (MON-ØØ81Ø-6) products

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes, Guillaume Balas, Lynn Boylan, Eleonora Evi Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee. For: 30,  Against: 19; abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch summary here

Date of vote: 6.10.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote: For 371, Against 189, Abstentions 40.

Threshold: 281

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D,  EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

 

 

 

Vote by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 6: DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 11 July 2016 – Tuesday 12 July 2016 Item 10Objection pursuant to Rule 106: extension of the approval period of glyphosate

Rapporteur: Merja Kyllönen (GUE/NGL

Adoption of motion for Resolution

Decision in Committee: Rejected. For: 9; Against: 28; abstention(s): 22.

 

Challenge 7. DRAFT AGENDA – Tuesday 21 June 2016 – Tuesday 21 June 2016. Item 8: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Maximum residue levels for thiacloprid in or on certain products

Co-rapportuer: Sylvie Goddyn (ENF)

Decision in Committee: rejected: For: 7, Against: 41, Abstentions: 1

 

Challenge 8. DRAFT AGENDA – Wednesday 15 June 2016 – Thursday 16 June 2016. Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: Health claims on caffeine (Rule 106(2))

 

Rapporteur: Christel Schaldemose (S&D)

Committee Resolution here

Decision in Committee.  Adopted. For: 57; Against: 0; Abstention(s):0

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date: 07.07.2016

Resolution voted on  here

Defeated: For 257, Against 339, Abstenstions 50

Threshold 259

Coalition:  EPP, ECR,ENF

Vote watch summary

 

Voting by Group Summary

 

 

 

Challenge 9. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 23 May 2016 – Tuesday 24 May 2016. Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: placing on the market of a genetically modified carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L., line SHD-27531-4)

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes, Lynn Boylan, Guillaume Balas. Adoption of motion for a resolution

Committee Resolution here

Decision: Adopted: Yes: 39; Against: 23; Abstention(s): 1.

Plenary Vote Watch summary

Date: 08.06.2016

Resolution adopted here.

For 430, Against 189, Abstentions 33

Threshold 310

Coalition:  GUE, Greens, S&D, EFFD, ENF

Vote watch Summary

 

Voting by Group Summary

 

 

Challenge 10. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 23 May 2016 – Tuesday 24 May 2016. Item 14: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: authorisation of GMO maize Bt11 x MIR162 x MIR604 x GA21

Co-Rapporteurs: Bart Staes, Lynn Boylan, Guillaume Balas.

Committee Resolution here.

Decision: Adopted:For: 39; Against: 24; Abstention(s): 0.

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of vote: 8.06.2016

Vote in Plenary:For: 426; Against: 202; Abstensions: 33

Threshold: 315

Coalition: GUE, Greens, S&D, EFFD, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

Group Summary

 

Challenge 11. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 21 March 2016 – Tuesday 22 March 2016. Item 5: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate

Co-Rapporteurs: Pavel Poc, Kateřina Konečná, Bas Eickhout, Piernicola Pedicini, Mark Demesmaeker, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Frédérique Ries

Committee Resolution here.

Decision in Committee. Adopted. For: 38; Against: 6; Abstention(s): 18

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of vote: 13.04.2016

Resolution adopted here.

Vote in Plenary: For 396; Against 299 ;Abstenstions 6

Threshold: 348

Coalition:GUE, Greens, S&D, ALDE, ENF

Vote Watch Summary

 

Group Summary

 

Challenge 12. DRAFT AGENDA – Monday 21 March 2016 – Tuesday 22 March 2016. Item 12: Objection pursuant to Rule 106: renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate

Rapporteur: Mireille D’Ornano (ENF)

Committee Decision: Resolution Fell (see above challenge 11).

 

Challenge 13. Agenda Thursday 14 January 2016. Item 5: Objection pursuant to Rule 105: infant and follow-on formula

Rapporteur: Keith Taylor (Green/UK)

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: For 16; Against: 47; Abstention(s): 0

 

Challenge 14. Agenda Thursday 14 January 2016. Item 6: Objection pursuant to Rule 105: food for special medical purposes

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: 17; against: 46; abstention(s): 0

 

Challenge 15. Agenda Thursday 14 January 2016. Item 7.  Objection pursuant to Rule 105: processed cereal-based food and baby food

Rapporteur: Keith Taylor (Green/UK)

Committee resolution here

Decision in Committee: For: 35; Against: 28; Abstention(s): 0

Plenary Vote Watch Summary

Date of Vote: 20.01.2016

Resolution adopted here

Vote in Plenary: For: 393; Against 305; Abstenstions:  12

Threshold: 376

Vote Watch Summary

Group Summary