Claire Monkhouse from the IEEP looks at the latest developments at the European Commission
Slow-down for environmental policy in 2004
With all the institutional changes taking place next year (accession of ten new Member States on 1 May; European Parliament elections in June and Commission change-over in November), it is expected that there will be a slow down in policy developments in 2004. The Commission’s work programme for 2004 reflected its reduced capacity to deal with anything other than strategic matters by containing fewer commitments than in previous years. Among its priorities are a proposal for the new Structural Funds programming period (post-2006), a proposal for a mercury strategy and a communication on climate change. On a strategic level, the Commission will also progress with the development of the seven Thematic Strategies of the Sixth Environment Action Programme, undertake a review of the Sustainable Development Strategy, and take forward commitments made at the Johannesburg World Summit on sustainable consumption and production.
Ireland will hold the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers for the first half of the year and the Netherlands from July onwards. For both, the many significant institutional developments taking place will undoubtedly be the most important feature of their tenure, especially so for Ireland. However, progress will continue on existing proposals, including negotiations on proposed changes to EU chemicals policy and agreement on the proposed directive on environmental liability. The development of an
environmental technology action plan is high on Ireland’s agenda, as are climate change policy and work on the integration of environmental considerations into other policy areas.