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Meeting of the EU Environment Council

Ljubljana, 26 June 2018 - At yesterday's meeting of the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg the ministers held a political debate on the proposal for a Drinking Water Directive regarding access to drinking water and the regulation of materials that come into contact with drinking water. The ministers, including Slovenia, agreed that it is important to address materials that touch drinking water with a view to protecting human health, as well as eliminating obstacles to the internal market. Hygiene standards must be harmonised at EU level. One possible option is a combined approach, including the use of standardisation procedures taken from existing legislation on building materials, which should be supplemented with minimum requirements for materials in contact with drinking water in the Drinking Water Directive.

Access to drinking water must be ensured in the EU, since this is a commitment made at a global level, in particular, by the adoption of sustainable development goal no. 6. Most countries have called for a political commitment under this directive, while the measures regulating access to drinking water should be left to the Member States in light of their specifics and culture of water use. The ministers unanimously confirmed the Council’s conclusions on the implementation of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, which are an important signal to the EU industry that it must reduce the use of non-reusable plastic and promote the use of recycled plastic materials that must not contain dangerous substances or chemicals.

 

The ministers also discussed a proposal for a regulation setting new CO2 standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles after 2020. In the debate the majority of ministers, including the Slovenian one, considered that the European Commission's proposal to reduce emissions should be strengthened by 2030. Only through more ambitious goals can the transport sector tread the decarbonisation path needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Reducing emissions in transport is also central to improving air quality in the EU.  The ministers also believed that an early transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles is necessary to maintain the global competitiveness of the European automotive industry. Only a few countries consider the EC proposal as too ambitious and hard to achieve for the automotive industry.

 

Under the AOB heading the Communication on Pollinators in the EU was presented, which Slovenia, together with other countries, welcomed. At the close of the meeting, Austria presented the priorities of its presidency, which begins on 1 July 2018. As a priority it highlighted topics on disposable plastic and emission standards for vehicles, as well as negotiations on the LIFE Regulation and harmonisation of reporting within environmental legislation.  

 

On the margins of the meeting 14 Member States forming an informal group of climate-friendly countries (the Green Growth Group) co-signed a joint statement, in which they called on the European Commission to prepare a comprehensive and ambitious long-term strategy to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In preparing said long-term strategy covering the period until 2050, EU and Member States are bound by the Paris Agreement. The European Commission will prepare the strategy at the latest by the time of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24), which is to take place in November 2018 in Poland. The Member States are required to prepare their national long-term strategies by 2020.

 

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