MEPs prepare to quiz new EU environment chief

MEPs from the European parliament's environment committee meet in Brussels this week for their first session since elections in June. Topping the agenda will be preparations for a hearing with environment commissioner-designate Stavros Dimas.

The parliament will decide whether to confirm the new college of commissioners based on how Mr Dimas and his colleagues perform in a series of such hearings in late September. Incoming Commission president José Manuel Barroso has already won endorsement.

The commmittee has already collated a series of 55 draft questions to Mr Dimas, as well as suggested questions for the new public health and industry commissioners. The list reveals what kinds of issues members want raise with the man taking over from Margot Wallström.

MEPs want to know where Mr Dimas thinks the need to integrate environment into mainstream EU policies is greatest. They will also seek assurances that he will continue the EU’s “voluntarist” approach, particularly on climate change.

MEPs want to know how the commissioner will ensure that “price tags” are attached to future policy proposals, and how he intends to improve member states’ implementation of EU legislation. He will also be asked which areas he thinks are most suitable for voluntary regulation.

The committee will ask how the EU should prepare for greenhouse gas reduction targets after 2012, and how firmly Mr Dimas is committed to the Reach chemicals reform package. It also wants to know whether he supports quantitative targets for improving eco-efficiency.

On the establishment of tolerance thresholds for GMOs in seeds, a major upcoming issue for the Commission, the committee wants to know whether Mr Dimas will back the parliament’s stance if member state committees fail to agree for or against Commission proposals. It also wants to know if Mr Dimas will agree to co-finance the destruction of obsolete pesticides stocks.

MEPs will raise further issues during the hearing itself, committee sources said.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily

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