There was substantive discussion among Ministers attending today’s Environment Council on three key areas: The recast of the Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment, the ‘ILUC’ (Impacts of Indirect Land Use Change) proposal and the Proposal for a Regulation on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits.
Speaking in Brussels today, the Irish Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan, who chaired the Council said of the orientation debate on the EIA Directive that “it had provided a very useful opportunity for Ministers to set out their views and positions on key aspects of the new proposals. The discussion today gives us a clear mandate for the second half of our Presidency by very clearly identifying the areas which will require specific focus in our work over the coming months before returning to Council in June with a progress report”.
An orientation debate was also held on the Commission’s proposal for a Directive amending both the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive so as to encourage the transition to biofuels that deliver additional greenhouse gas emissions savings and address biofuels emissions from indirect land use change.
Minister Hogan - “Today’s debate was informed and varied and spanned both energy and environmental considerations".
Minister Hogan said: “ILUC is a challenging but important environmental dossier that seeks to limit the emissions due to indirect land-use change associated with the use of conventional biofuels. It is imperative to address this issue and options in that regard including steps to promote more advanced and sustainable feedstocks that do not create an additional demand for land.”
The Minister added “today’s debate was informed and varied and spanned both energy and environmental considerations. This will facilitate the further development of the negotiations on the proposed Directive and we will come back to the Environment Council with a progress report at the next scheduled meeting in June.”
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan also chaired an orientation debate on an item under his responsibility - the Proposal for a Regulation on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilisation in the Union. Speaking after the Council discussions, Minister Deenihan said: ‘I welcome the outcome of today’s debate. Previous meetings of this Council have called for early ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol seeks to ensure that there is a reward to countries, particularly developing countries, that are the source of biological materials which could be used for new and profitable products such as foods and medicines. I believe the debate we have had today will have a strong influence on the future implementation measures we adopt.”
The Council also held a debate on the Commission’s report on the REACH Review as well as on the Second Regulatory Review of Nanomaterials. The Roadmap on Substances of Very High Concern was also discussed together with these items. Discussion was based on a question put by the Irish Presidency, which elicited the Member States’ perspectives on the conclusions of these reports. Minister Hogan said that this will assist the Presidency in developing further its work on the environment and health element of the 7th Environment Action Programme.
During lunch, Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik and Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs presented the joint Communication “A Decent Life for All: Ending Poverty and giving the world a sustainable future”. Ministers broadly welcomed the Communication on which the Presidency will be developing Council Conclusions by June. The Ministers discussed progress on Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 development agenda.