Microplastics – British Conservative Government and European Greens Unite

It is not common for the British Conservative Party and the European Greens to unite on anything.

Plastics in the oceans has united them. Their messages and communication agency are identical.

On the environment agenda, today’s Conservative government, or at least Mr Gove, seem to have moved from taking a page out of the Green Groups manifesto, and gobbled the whole book.



An aligned approach for endocrine disruptors soon?

What seems a long time ago, the European Commission tabled two proposals for Endocrine Disruptor Criteria. One for biocides and one for pesticides.  From the start, the Commission wanted a joined up approach. They just want the same regulatory  approach taken for pesticides, biocides, and indeed for anything else.

It has not been easy getting these rules agreed. Their hopes of an aligned approach appeared to be derailed in October. Then a text on biocides was accepted by the Member States and European Parliament,  but rejected for pesticides by the Parliament.

Today, the Commission came back to the drawing board and submitted a new proposal (see below).

It stands a good chance of being adopted. It removes an exemption for insect growth regulators. This was put forward by Germany. The European Parliament objected to it for rule of law concerns – it exceeded the strict limitations of delegated legislation. Without the offending provisions it should sail through.

Government officials look at on 12 or 13 December and may even vote on it. If they back it, the Parliament will let it through, and an aligned approach may well come true after several years.  Inevitably it will then start to work its way across other legislation.

Civil servants, who are often lawyers, like legal certainty and order. They may well secure it for Endocrine.


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.