Meeting of EU environment ministers ends with optimism on NECs

The first meeting of 2000 of environment ministers from EU member states has ended with the Portuguese EU Presidency claiming that progress was made on the issue of national emission ceilings for key air pollutants.

No important agreements were reached at the low-key meeting of the Council of Ministers, but the Portuguese argue that several EU member states which have previously taken a hard line against the European Commission’s proposals for air pollutant limits (see related story) – the EC’s proposals are tougher than those agreed last year in a UN protocol (see related story) – are willing to compromise.

As a result, hopes are now higher that EU environment ministers will reach a decision at their next meeting in June that brings them closer to the EC’s and European Parliament’s views (see related story).

Also under discussion at the 30 March meeting were:

  • endocrine disrupters – the Council has asked the EC to report on its work at the beginning of 2001 (see related story)
  • review of the Fifth EU Environment Programme and priorities for the Sixth Programme
  • the EC’s White Paper on Environmental Liability (see related story)
  • the upcoming international biodiversity convention conference in Nairobi
  • the EC’s work on developing environmental indicators

The Council of Ministers set out what they would like to see prioritised in the EU’s Sixth Environmental Programme, citing:

  • climate change
  • biodiversity
  • efficient use and management of natural resources
  • waste management
  • environmental security, specifically the reduction in environmental risks posed by chemicals and genetically modified organisms
  • soil degradation and desertification

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