Firstly, I would like to thank deputy Prime Minister, Gavrilescu, Minister Deneș, and indeed the Romanian Presidency as a whole for their engagement and their efficiency.
Firstly on chemicals, I welcome today’s progress towards a Sustainable Chemicals Policy Strategy of the Union. The conclusions are a reflection of Council’s continued support for sound policy on chemicals.
his progress is built on a solid foundation of Commission initiatives. Last year the Commission presented the second REACH review. We also launched a consultation on options on how to address the interface between the chemical, product and waste legislation.
We have just published the results of the Fitness Check of the other most relevant pieces of chemicals legislation.
We also agreed today on the need for proper and sustainable financing of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to make sure it can best it carry out all its tasks.
Secondly we discussed the important issue of Water Reuse and the Council adopted a General Approach.
Water scarcity and drought are increasingly affecting the EU. With climate change, the problems are likely to worsen, including for member states that are not usually associated with water scarcity and drought.
I understand that some Member States might not have an immediate, pressing need to use reclaimed water at home. But, Member States must take into account the rapidly changing climate patterns and resulting droughts and as a consequence reconsider on a regular basis - at least every five years – the need to allow the use of reclaimed water.
Climate change is a reality and we need to deploy every tool at our disposal to face the challenges it poses. The Commission’s proposal for water reuse based on comprehensive scientific work and in line with the latest globally recognised water sanitation standards of the World Health Organisation is such a tool.
I wish to congratulate the Presidency for having brought this file to the next stage of negotiations.
Thanks to the Presidency for giving space to discuss the Environmental Implementation Review.
Here we talked about the importance of including stakeholders, improving public administration and coordination.
If I was to emphasise one point it is that we need to come back to the concept of joint Council meetings, as was done in the past with the Transport Council. Such a meeting with the Agriculture Council could significantly increase the efficiency in which we implement environmental legislation.
My friend and colleague Miguel Arias Canete was obliged to attend another meeting so if I may also give a brief summary of the Climate points of today’s agenda.
Today’s Council took as its starting point the progress in the European Council towards setting an EU objective of climate neutrality by 2050.
It (the Council European) took steps to finalise an ambitious EU long-term strategy by the end of the year for submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by early 2020.
National climate and energy plans
The Commission presented to Ministers the Commission’s Communication and recommendations on their draft energy and climate plans.
Our assessment overall is a positive one, and the EU remains on track to achieve its 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction.
But there are areas for improvement.
For example, for the EU-wide non-ETS target 30% reduction compared to 2005, current projections based on the draft plans is 28% reduction. There is a gap in ambition both in the renewables target of at least 32% of final energy consumption, and notably in the EU energy efficiency target of at least 32.5%.
Member States need to step up their efforts to ensure that the sum of their national contributions will meet these agreed EU targets, and thus an overall 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Those were the main Climate agenda points.
In addition to these main points, we had a very productive informal discussion on how to make sure that the Single Use Plastic Directive is effectively and efficiently implemented across the EU.
This was a very constructive Council. I would again like to thank our hosts the Romanian Presidency and to congratulate them for an excellent 6 months.
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