EU environment ministers discussed in Brussels the emissions trading, circular economy and the EU Ecolabel

The EU-28 environment ministers discussed today the revision of the European emissions trading system (EU ETS), the protection of human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals, or the circular economy. At the meeting, where the Czech Republic was represented by Deputy Minister Vladislav Smrž, the ministers also discussed the REFIT [1] evaluation of the EU Ecolable Regulation, the results of which should be disclosed by the European Commission.

The Slovak presidency of the EU Council presented at the meeting the progress in discussing the revision of the emissions trading system (EU ETS), which has been achieved since the publication of the proposal in the summer of 2015 and especially during the last six months when Slovakia was at the head of the EU Council. "For the Czech Republic I must say that we are very sorry that despite the intensive efforts of the Presidency, consensus has not been reached yet on adopting the so-called general approach of the Council, which would include the position of the Member States before the negotiation with the European Parliament. The aim of the proposal of the EU ETS reform is to contribute to the achievement of EU commitments in the area of climate protection, i.e. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared to 1990, while within the EU ETS the decrease should be 43% compared to 2005. The EU Member States made those commitments in October 2014," summarises the Deputy Minister of the Environment Vladislav Smrž representing the Czech Republic at the ministerial meeting.

In the field of waste and the transition to circular economy it is important from the perspective of the Czech Republic to focus on a substantial reduction of municipal waste landfilling which is at the lowest rank of the waste hierarchy. "In the 21st century, landfilling is immoral and irresponsible. Landfills are time bombs, threatening the environment and human health with potential leakage and contamination of water or soil. It is time to change this approach to waste management. Therefore, the MoE has prepared a new waste legislation, which will be submitted to the Legislative Council of the Government in January, and which, thanks to the ban on landfilling from 2024, as well as other measures, is to divert waste from landfills," says Deputy Smrž.

The environment ministers also adopted conclusions on the protection of human health and the environment through the sound management of chemicals. According to Deputy Smrž, the results of the ongoing evaluation of the legislation on chemicals and the REFIT of the REACH regulation [2] will be key for the future direction of the EU in the field of chemicals. Deputy Smrž also stressed the need to ensure sound treatment of chemicals worldwide after 2020, by means of a correct setting of the so-called "Beyond 2020" [3] process. "the Czech Republic is actively involved in that process. At the national level, we have already begun the process of ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury that, as soon as it takes effect, will also significantly contribute to the international efforts on the correct management of hazardous substances," Deputy Smrž specified.

On the initiative of the Czech Republic, the EU-28 Ministers also discussed the EU Ecolabel [4], which the Czech Republic considers to be a successful programme and supports its continuation and further development. "The EU Ecolabel is unique in that it takes into account the whole life-cycle of products, and also in its scope. The EU Ecolabel can be used around the world, although it is primarily used in the European Union," Vladislav Smrž pointed out. The Czech Republic called upon the European Commission to publish the long-awaited results of the REFIT evaluation of the EU Ecolabel Regulation, and at the same time to inform about its further intentions with the ecolabel.

Notes:

[1] "Regulatory Fitness and Performance" – abbreviation of the European Commission programme for the effectiveness and efficiency of EU legislation

[2] "Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals"

[3] This process is guided by the initiative for safe handling of chemicals, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Its output should be recommendations for that initiative. See here for more.

[4] The EU Ecolabel has been used since 1992 and contributes to reducing the environmental impacts of consumption and production. It helps to change consumer behaviour by clearly identifying the products shown to be friendly to the environment and health.

For more information
Jana Taušová
Deputy Spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment
Tel.: +420 267 122 944 nebo +420 739 242 379
E-mail: tiskove@mzp.cz