Germany unveils EU environment priorities

Following a meeting with EU environment commissioner, Ritt Bjerregaard, Germany's Green environment minister, Jurgen Trittin has disclosed priority aims for environmental policy/legislation during the German EU Presidency starting next January

The main thrust of the environmental policy under the German Presidency will be: harmonisation of environmental regulations; transparency and citizen participation in policy making; and integration of environmental concerns into other EU policy areas.

A key area is the harmonisation of EU energy taxes. Germany recently launched a national bill to increase energy taxation, and reduce taxes on employment, see related articles:New German government to push for EU energy tax deal (13/11/1998) Schroeder unveils energy tax proposals (27/11/1998)] and would like to introduce similar energy taxation across Europe. Particularly, Trittin would like to introduce a European tax on aviation fuel, a spokesperson for the German Environment Ministry told edie.

Both Trittin and Bjerregaard recognise that energy taxation could have a positive role to play in meeting European climate change strategy objectives. They stressed the need for Europe to take the lead in forming action plans to follow up the recent climate change negotiations in Buenos Aires and Kyoto.

Other priority areas for harmonisation of environmental legislation include:

 Water Framework Directive: this Directive is planned to be implemented in 1999. Trittin wants to achieve consensus between the Council of Ministers and Parliament during the Germany Presidency, and says that harmonisation of European water protection laws is long overdue.

  Waste Incineration: to establish a common framework for the incineration of all waste types. According to Trittin, current national differences are not acceptable, leading to excessive waste transportation and market distortions.

  Air emissions: to harmonise air emissions limits for large incineration plants and ensure modern emission reduction technology is used; and to restrict emissions from heavy goods vehicles.

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