Minister Brabec attended a meeting in Brussels on emissions trading, waste or evaluations of States in applying EU environmental laws

Minister Brabec attended a meeting in Brussels on emissions trading, waste or evaluations of States in applying EU environmental laws

Environment ministers of the EU-28 discussed the revision of the European emissions trading system (EU ETS) yesterday. At the meeting in Brussels, where the Czech Republic was represented by Minister Richard Brabec, representatives of the EU-28 also discussed the review by the European Commission of the implementation of EU environmental laws (EIR) [1], or the implementation of the Action Plan for the Circular Economy.

"The main item on the agenda was to find an agreement on the issue of the reform of the European emissions trading system (EU ETS). In the coming years, the system is to ensure a cost effective reduction of emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the industry and energy sectors. The EU ETS should be the main tool for achieving the EU's climate targets along the lines of the Paris climate agreement of 2015, where EU Member States pledged to reduce their emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990” the Environment Minister Richard Brabec explains.

After a year and a half of complex negotiations, the EU-28 ministers finally, after a day of effort, managed to find consensus on the basic settings and principles of the future functioning of the EU ETS. The adoption of a general approach of the Council can launch negotiations with the European Commission and the European Parliament that adopted its position on the review of the EU ETS at its plenary session on 15 February.

"From the beginning, the Czech Republic has supported the the next phase of the EU ETS functioning to be set so as to ensure stability, efficiency, strengthening and predictability of the system. The purpose is for the chosen measures to be transparent, clear, administratively simple and at the same time adequately protecting the competitiveness of European industry," Minister Brabec comments on the results of the negotiations. "I appreciate that after a year and a half of intense negotiations, now with the contribution of the Czech Republic, a general approach has been reached and so a positive signal has been sent for the carbon trading market and for industrial enterprises. From the perspective of the Czech Republic, it is important that the adopted proposal contains, in addition to the strengthening of the ETS, also measures to protect our industry. The agreement has been concluded now that the whole package is closest to the position of the Czech Republic," added Minister Brabec.

If an agreement can be found with the European Parliament and the European Commission, the Commission will launch work on the downstream legislation and Member States will then integrate the new directive in their national law. The revised EU ETS, in particular in the field of free allocation of allowances, financial mechanisms and the overall strengthening of the effectiveness of the system, will then be applied mainly in the next decade, when the system enters its 4th trading period (2021-2030). In that period, according to the approved proposal, the volume of allowances should decrease each year by 2.2%. In the current trading period, which will expire in 2020, the number of issued emission allowances is reduced by 1.74% per year.

The EU environment ministers also discussed the results of the review by the European Commission concerning the implementation of European environmental legislation in the EU Member States (EIR). This assessment is a new initiative of the European Commission, which aims to improve the application of European law on environmental protection in the EU countries. Every two years, the Commission will evaluate the situation in each Member State, and will recommend improvements on the gaps identified.

On 6 February this year, the Commission published the first review of all the Member countries - the EIR country reports. "In my opinion, this evaluation may be beneficial particularly through exchange of experience between Member States, and also may contribute to extending the awareness of environmental issues into other policies of the European Union," Minister Brabec adds to the topic. In reviewing the application of European legislation in the Czech Republic, the Commission appreciated, in particular, the well functioning monitoring of natural habitats and endangered species, a functioning system of extended producer responsibility in the sphere of packaging and packaging waste, and the activity in international negotiations (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES). The Commission’s review also focuses on air quality, the Act on environmental impact assessment and other areas.

"As regards air quality, it's one of my top priorities. We have launched a boiler revolution in which we will distribute among citizens a total of CZK 9 billion on the replacement of old non eco-friendly boilers. We have approved an amendment to the Air Protection Act, which gives municipalities a powerful tool to enforce the law in cases where people burn poor quality fuel or even waste in the boilers and so pollute the air with toxic substances. In 2016, we released air quality improvement programmes for each of the regions in the Czech Republic, containing specific measures up to 2020 for industry, transport, agriculture, etc. Concerning the EIA, we have an amendment to the relevant law in the House of Deputies that will substantially simplify and shorten the entire process at least by 45 days. In addition, it will reduce the number of plans, by up to several thousand a year, which do not have to go through the process without a risk of damage to the environment," Minister Brabec summarizes.

Also at the meeting, the European Commission informed on the evaluation of implementation of the Action Plan for the Circular Economy, published on 26 January 2017. "We welcome that the European Commission, in addition to waste management, focuses also on other areas that are related to circular economy," concluded Minister Brabec. In this regard, the communication on energy recovery of waste, published in January of this year, is important for the Czech Republic.

Notes:

[1] the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR): Common Challenges and how to join efforts to deliver the results. More informationsee that link.

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