EU Transport and Environment Policy Newsletter!
European Parliament Kicks off again!
The European Parliament Committees were back in action this week to begin their policy work. With the membership and makeup of the committees all decided during the first Strasbourg session, this week gave us our first glimpse of how the new Environment (ENVI) and Transport (TRAN) Committees are likely to operate going forward. Needless to say, neither committee disappointed and we are set for loud, proud, and ambitious ENVI and TRAN committees over the next two years. Expect sweeping changes to EU Commission proposals and a whole host of own initiative programs. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the highlights of the first week of committee hearings.
Finnish(ed)? The TRAN Committee has only just got started!
EU TRAN Committee begins work by scrutinising the Finnish Council priorities.
MEPs gathered in Brussels for the first substantive parliamentary committee meetings of the term. Several hearings and debates are scheduled to take place, which follows the recent meeting of the new EP and the election parliamentary committee chairs and vice-chairs.
Business as usual, then?
The Greens’ Karima Delli MEP has been re-elected as Chair of the Transport and Tourism committee – but while the chair remains the same, there is change in the air after today’s first committee meeting. The focus of the first TRAN meeting was the new Finnish presidency of the Council, as the committee received a visit from both Sanna Marin (the Finnish Minister for Transport and Communications) and Katri Kulmuni (the Finnish Minister for Economic Affairs who is responsible for tourism) who laid out their priorities for the presidency.
Finland identified four strategic focus areas: digital transport services, the automation of transport, carbon-free transport and the data economy. Concerning maritime shipping, the Finnish ministers made clear that they will coordinate the EU’s positions to the meetings of the International Maritime Organization to work on strengthening the EU’s global role in sustainability, digitalisation, and automation.
With several MEPs demanding more effective maritime shipping policy, the Transport committee hinting that they are ready to start negotiations with the Council in this area, and the new Finnish Council’s ambitions for maritime shipping, there may soon be a change in currents. While there are no legislative proposals laid out presently, the TRAN committee and Finland appeared keen to get something on the table soon – so watch this space.
ENVI Committee set to become (e)missionaries
The new-look ENVI Committee is set to push fro far more ambitious emissions regulation
Elsewhere, the European Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) met on Tuesday for the first time since the election of chairs and vice-chairs. ENVI is now the EP’s largest committee – with 74 members – sending a clear signal that change is afoot.
The committee invited in three Finnish Ministers to talk about their priorities for the next six months. Krista Kiuru, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services of Finland, underlined Helsinki’s “Economy of Wellbeing” priorities under Finland’s six-month EU presidency, zooming in on poor mental health across the bloc. Another key priority for Finland was also focused upon – making as much progress as possible on the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) legislative proposal.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä was also in Brussels. On climate action, Minister Leppä told the committee that a key priority for Finland’s Presidency is the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). He pointed out that the new ‘green architecture’ of the CAP calls for more mandatory environmental measures. The EU agriculture ministers will meet informally in Helsinki in September.
ENVI also heard from Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Finland. Finland stated that it will focus its work on shaping the EU common vision for a long-term strategy, on sustainable water management, and biodiversity. Sustainability is also a cross-cutting theme in all meeting arrangements during Finland’s six-month presidency. Among others, Finland will not be giving out traditional presidency merchandise but will instead use the Presidency budget to offset greenhouse gas emissions from flights to Presidency meetings in Helsinki and Brussels. With such big ambitions, it remains to be seen what the next six months has in stall for the ENVI committee and the Finnish Presidency.
WhatSUP? Single Use Plastic (SUP) Directive update
The new SUP Directive will keep the Commission busy over the coming twelve months.
The European Parliament and Council agreed on the proposal for a directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (COM(2018)0340-C8-0218/2018-2018/0172(COD)) in May 2019. However, this is likely to prove to be merely the start for the regulation of single use plastic.
The SUP Directive went through an interesting regulatory formation. One of the major interventions of the EU Parliament was to require Member States to ban oxo-degradable plastic – this deviated from the original Commission proposal which decided to instruct the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to conduct a two-year REACH investigation into whether oxo-degradable plastics should be restricted. The EU Parliament, with agreement of the Council, decided that such an investigation was unnecessary as they wished to ban the substance immediately. Such decisive action indicated the political nature of the SUP Directive and gives an indication on how the directive will develop over time. Aside from the restriction placed on oxo-degradable plastics, the SUP Directive also places restrictions on cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, beverage stirrers and food containers.
The SUP Directive has been purposefully designed to be flexible and organic. The Parliament and Council have given the Commission great scope to go ahead and evaluate the SUP Directive over the coming two years and will be required to assess the future expansion of the products included in the SUP Directive. Critically, this means that the EU Commission will likely add more products to the SUP Directives’ restriction list – including bottle caps and lids. This is evidenced by Recital 32 and 12 of the SUP Directive. The EU Commission will begin work immediately on analysing the scope of the SUP Directive and the newly-elected ENVI Committee in the EU Parliament will also use its voice to demand action on a whole host of plastics.
Presentation of study on Model Shift in European Transport: a way forward
The TRAN committee had a discussion on the progress and potential of modal shift from road to more sustainable transport modes, with respect to the policy objectives set in the 2011 White Paper on transport. The study has focus both on passenger and freight transport, highlighting main barriers and factors that are hampering a more effective modal shift at EU level and providing policy recommendations for the way forward.
August Committee hearings
The Chelgate team will be on the ground attending the TRAN and ENVI Committee hearings. If you require in depth analysis and engagement advice on any of the legislative files being scrutinised in September, please contact us.
The Committees are both still negotiating the rapporteur appointments and we shall keep readers up-to-date on the negotiations.
Next Committee Dates
Monday, 02 September, 15h00-18h30
Tuesday, 03 September, 09h00-12h30
Tuesday, 03 September, 14h30-18h30
Wednesday, 4 September, 09.00-12.30
Wednesday, 4 September,14.30-18.30
Thursday, 5 September, 9.00-12.30
EU Commission Public Consultations / Call for Tenders
The European Commission regularly open public consultations in order to receive feedback on policy proposals or to gauge the need for legislative action in a given area. These consultations are easy to respond to and enable companies to ensure their thoughts are brought to the attention of the EU Commission at an early state.
- Consultation on the list of candidate Projects of Common interest in oil infrastructure – open from 4 July to 26 September
- Industrial Emissions – evaluating EU rules – open from 27 May to 4 September
- Fishing opportunities for 2020 under the Common Fisheries Policy – open from 11 June to 20 August
- State Aid guidelines for fisheries (amendment) – open from 28 June to 20 September
- Sustainable Batteries (EU Requirements) – open from 13 June to 8 August