Articles taggés avec ‘Environment’

EU Funding:EU promotes sustainable products and technologies

Mercredi 16 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for research projects about climate change, pressure from growing human activity and prevention of risks on environment and health
 Grants for the demonstration of innovative technologies to energy efficiency and their introduction to the market for mass deployment.
 Grants for projects that promote various forms of innovation in enterprises and eco-innovation

Improving the environmental performance and in particular the energy efficiency of products and stimulating their market uptake are the core objectives of a package put forward by the European Commission today

It sets out a series of voluntary and obligatory actions to support a coherent and dynamic policy in the EU and internationally, helping to define eco-friendly products, informing the consumer through improved labelling and supporting their purchase through public procurement and fiscal incentives.

The action plan lists the initiatives the Commission will undertake in 3 areas:

1. A new product policy

Energy and resource-efficient consumer products

In the absence of voluntary action, the Ecodesign Directive presently provides a framework for setting compulsory minimum requirements and voluntary benchmarks for energy-using products. All energy-related products – that do not consume energy during use but have an indirect impact on energy consumption – will also be covered in future. This will allow addressing products such as water-using devices and windows. For example, water-saving taps and shower heads reduce water consumption and therefore also the amount of energy used for hot water without altering the user’s perceived well-being.

Mandatory labelling

Mandatory labelling will indicate relevant environmental parameters for a wider range of products, including energy-using and energy-related products.

Incentives and public procurement

The Commission also proposes that only products attaining a certain level of energy or environmental performance – identified by one of the labelling classes – are eligible for incentives and public procurement at national and EU levels. It will be up to Member States whether and in which form to provide incentives. Today incentives are granted for very different levels of environmental performance across the EU, sometimes in regions very near to each other thus limiting economies of scale for better performing products. In addition Member States are recommended to adopt common green procurement practices for goods and services not (yet) covered by the above plan.

Voluntary eco labelling

The EU Ecolabel scheme, which indicates the most environmentally friendly products on the EU market, will be extended to cover a wider range of products and services, such as food and drink products, and made less costly and bureaucratic. These changes will make the scheme more attractive to manufacturers and encourage them to innovate and offer more such products.

Retailers’ responsibility

A Retail Forum will be created, which will also include other stakeholders such as producers and consumers’ organisations. This forum will prepare actions to improve large retailers’ environmental performance, promote the purchase of greener products and better inform consumers.

2. Promoting leaner production

With a view to promoting leaner production, the proposals foresee:

- Developing targets and tools to monitor, benchmark and promote resource efficiency and eco-innovation. An Environmental Technology Verification scheme will be established, to support eco-innovation through increased confidence in new technologies
- Revising EMAS, the EU’s voluntary eco-management and audit scheme, to increase its uptake, notably among SMEs, by making participation less costly and involving organisations outside the EU
- Developing an industrial policy for eco-industries by first analysing the barriers to their expansion and to their full uptake by other sectors
- Promoting environmental performance in small enterprises (SMEs) through customized advice

3. Sustainable consumption and production internationally

In order to promote sustainable products worldwide, the proposals envisage:

- Supporting agreements of industry sectors as part of international climate negotiations
- Promoting and sharing good practice internationally
- Promoting international trade in environmentally friendly goods and services

Examples of gains in efficiency and cost reduction

30% of the energy used in buildings could be saved with positive economic effects in 2030. Better window insulation would contribute to reducing CO2 emissions by more than one fifth, while reducing costs to households. Significant gains are also estimated for water related devices such as baths, showers and taps.

Press room - European Commission

Zemanta Pixie

EU Funding: Environment: Policy Review shows achievements, and challenges ahead

Mercredi 2 juillet 2008

The European Commission has adopted its 2007 Environment Policy Review, which reports on EU policy developments from last year, focuses on the key challenges ahead and looks in detail at EU and Member States’ environmental trends and policy performance

EU environment policy framework is in place

The Commission has delivered almost all its main commitments under the 6th Environment Action Programme. The energy and climate change package endorsed by the European Council in 2007, and translated into concrete policy proposals by the Commission in 2008, will firmly set Europe on the path to a low-carbon economy. All seven of the thematic strategies have been presented to the co-legislator and accompanying legislative proposals have been adopted or are being examined by Council and Parliament. The long awaited chemicals legislation REACH, reforming the way we deal with chemicals, was adopted and the European Chemicals Agency started operating. The Environmental Liability Directive came into force and the Commission presented a proposal for a new Industrial Emissions Directive which extends the scope of the previous legislation and tightens emission limits. Important financial instruments for environment policy became operational, e.g. LIFE+ with a budget of € 2 143 million for the period 2007-13.

Further efforts needed for improving implementation

But while the policy framework is in place, implementation of EU environment legislation by Member States is often slow or incomplete. A majority of the open infringement cases concern bad application of EU environment law, but there are also cases concerning lack of, or improper transposition of directives. In 2008 and 2009 the Commission will step up its efforts to support Member States and their authorities on implementation, including through better information exchange, guidance and training. The Commission also decided to set out criteria for identifying infringement cases which need most immediate and intensive Commission legal action.

New impetus necessary to face global environmental challenges ahead

Three major challenges require urgent attention.


The current world economy is not sustainable. With growing populations and consumption demands, the global economy of the future will have to be cleaner, leaner and smarter. As an important step in this process, the Commission will shortly present an Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy. Its overall objective is to identify and overcome barriers to sustainable production and consumption that have either not been addressed yet or can be overcome by strengthening and better co-ordinating existing policies.

Climate change adaptation

Policy-makers have to address two distinct issues on climate change. The first is to limit temperature increases, and the EU is addressing this. But even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, the climate would still continue to change for many decades. So we need to adapt too in order to manage the unavoidable. Adaptation means e.g. finding ways to use water more efficiently, to develop crops that can tolerate drought and to strengthen coastal flood defences. In 2008, the Commission will present a White Paper on Adaptation which will examine ways to integrate adaptation principles into common policies.

Protection of biodiversity

Biodiversity loss presents a global threat, just as serious as climate change. In one way it is more worrying since there is no way to reverse extinction. Recent reports show that the EU target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 will not be achieved without additional efforts. In 2008, the Commission will therefore boost efforts for the full implementation of its Biodiversity Action Plan, for extending the Natura 2000 conservation network both in terrestrial and marine areas and will also further explore the value of biodiversity services within the process of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity launched at COP-9 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.


The Environment Policy Review is accompanied by an Annex that contains more detailed analysis of the main developments in EU environment policy. It also includes recent findings, detailed statistical information and highlights from Member States´ environmental policy actions in 2007 and to come in the near future.

Press room - European Commission

Zemanta Pixie

EU funding: EUROCITIES Conference on Climate Change and Mobility

Mardi 24 juin 2008

Environment and transport experts from across Europe attend event in London

Around 100 participants from across Europe attended the EUROCITIES Conference on Climate Change and Mobility, which was jointly organised by EUROCITIES’ Environment and Mobility Forums and hosted by Transport for London. The joint session on 3 June was opened by Kia Andreasson (Vice-Mayor of Gothenburg, Political Chair of the Environment Forum) and Niels Torslov (Copenhagen, Technical Chair of the Mobility Forum).

London’s Climate Change Action Plan was presented by Shirley Rodrigues, Head of Environment at the Greater London Authority. The Plan aims to deliver major reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while also bringing financial benefits in terms of lower energy costs. It includes a series of measures that will drastically improve energy efficiency in buildings, businesses and the transport sector, while also making greater use of renewable energy sources.

A very interesting and fruitful panel discussion included contributions from: Ronan Dantec (Vice Mayor of Nantes), Mario Aymerich (European Investment Bank), Pedro Ballesteros (European Commission - DG Transport and Energy), Ian Hodgson (DG Environment) and Helen Woolston (Transport for London). The speakers analysed how climate change and urban mobility are being addressed at different levels of governance, and how integration can be improved.

More than 65 participants took part in a Projects Fair, starting with an introduction of the European funding opportunities that are available for cities in the mobility and environment sectors, followed by a project brokerage session in which a variety of project proposals were presented by the cities of Düsseldorf, Leeds, Rotterdam, Sheffield and Stockholm, plus the Region of Wallonia (Belgium).

During the afternoon, two parallel workshops dealt with the practical aspects of developing and implementing urban mobility policies that also contribute to tackling climate change. One workshop looked at how to facilitate cooperation among different actors and stakeholders, and the other focused on issues in relation to decision-making procedures.

The Conference was preceded on 2 June by meetings of various EUROCITIES Working Groups that deal with issues related to environment and mobility. Then on 4 June there were separate meetings of the Environment and Mobility Forums during which members discussed their respective ongoing activities and plans for the next two years.


Zemanta Pixie

EU Funding: Climate change: Awareness campaign aims to create virtual community of young ‘changers’

Mercredi 4 juin 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

The public awareness raising campaign on climate change launched by the European Commission in May 2006 moves into a final stage tomorrow that will focus on five Member States – Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria

Launched on World Environment Day, this third phase of the “You control climate change” campaign aims to initiate pro-active dialogue on climate change in these five countries, where national campaigns have not yet been implemented. This stage of the campaign is centred around television advertising and a competition for young people that seeks to create a virtual community of ‘Changers’ committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by adapting their daily habits.

The final phase of the campaign will be launched through a series of events in national capitals on 5 and 8 June. These include a 4 km bicycle race around Bucharest and ‘Changer’ stands at the Ekofestival 2008 in Prague and at the Magic Sports Island sports festival on Margaret Island in Hungary. In all countries it will be possible to exchange plastic bags for a re-usable cotton bag.

The campaign in the five countries will run until mid 2009 and will comprise the following main elements:

- A TV advertisement showing how simple everyday actions can help to combat climate change will be broadcast on key youth channels in the five countries starting this month. It will also be available on the campaign website. Advertisements encouraging young people to change their habits are also scheduled to appear in prominent outdoor locations and on public transport
- The “Be a Changer” competition aims to get young people in the five countries to submit a pledge to adopt new habits and actions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These actions will be photographed by them and posted on-line where they can be voted on. Those making pledges and those who register as their supporters will together form a virtual community of ‘Changers’ sharing their creative ideas on combating climate change and competing to achieve the best results. At the end of the competition, the four most popular Changers in each country, along with one supporter from each country, will win a one-year membership of Earthwatch, the world’s largest environmental non-profit organisation. Those over 18 will also take part in a youth environment camp that will teach them the practical tools to make a difference to the environment; those under 18 will win camera equipment worth around €1,000. The competition will run until 30 November 2008
- An internet media campaign targeted at youth-focused portals and chat platforms will drive Internet users to the “Be a Changer” competition website


The final stage of the campaign will cost €1.5 million taking the total cost of the campaign since it was launched two years ago to almost €6.2 million.

Press Room - European Commission
  More information:
Campaign website

Zemanta Pixie

EU Funding: Green Week 2008: Only One Earth – Don’t waste it!

Mardi 3 juin 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

This year’s Green Week, the biggest annual conference devoted to European environment policy, will take place from 3 to 6 June at the Charlemagne Building in Brussels

Under the slogan “Only One Earth – Don’t waste it!” Green Week 2008 will focus on the need for Europe and the rest of the world to make its use of resources more sustainable.

In addition to 38 conference sessions, there will be an extensive side-events programme, including a ceremony on 3 June at which Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will announce the winners of the European Business Awards for the Environment 2008. Eleven companies from seven Member States have been nominated.

3,000 - 4,000 participants

Now in its eighth year, Green Week has established itself as a major annual forum for dialogue and for sharing experience, expertise and best practice on the environment. It brings together some 3,000-4,000 representatives from different levels of government, international institutions, business, non-governmental organisations and the scientific and academic communities. The ultimate objective is to find the most effective ways to protect and improve Europe’s environment, now and for the future. Green Week is open to the public free of charge.

Under the over-arching theme of sustainable use of resources, Green Week 2008 is structured around four sub-themes: Resources and waste management; Sustainable consumption and production; Nature and biodiversity; and Climate change.

The 38 conference sessions will cover an extensive range of issues, from the Commission’s plans to revise the EU Emissions Trading System to waste management challenges in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, from the economic effects of biodiversity loss to the application of Extended Producer Responsibility for products, and from water saving to the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels.

Commissioner Dimas will speak at the opening and closing sessions, while Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner for consumer protection Meglena Kuneva will also participate in sessions during the week.

Other speakers include:

- Janez Podobnik, Slovenian Environment Minister
- Anders Wijkman, MEP
- Angela Cropper, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
- Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency
- Lorraine Bolsinger, Vice-President, General Electric

Side-events: Environment Business Awards and LIFE Awards

At a ceremony on the evening of 3 June Commissioner Dimas will announce the winners of this year’s European Business Awards for the Environment and present them with trophies. The awards recognise “the Best of the Best” companies that have already won awards at national level. Eleven companies from seven Member States have been nominated out of 125 entries received, as follows:

- Management award: Terr’Avenir (France), The Co-operative Group Ltd (UK), TRIIP (Estonia)
- Product award: JCDecaux SA (France), Red Eléctrica de España (Spain), ertex-solar GmbH (Austria)
- Process award: CHOREN GmbH (Germany), DHV BV (Netherlands), Bayer AG (Germany)
- International Cooperation award: Windkraft Simonsfeld GmbH (Austria), KIT (Royal Tropical Institute) (Netherlands)

Press room - European Commission
  More information:
Green Week web site

Zemanta Pixie

Eu funding : G8 Environment Ministers on the key challenges of their cooperation

Lundi 26 mai 2008

A meeting of G8 Environment Ministers will be held from 24 to 26 May 2008 in Kobe, Japan.

Also taking part in the meeting will be ministers from emerging economy countries (Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Korea and South Africa) and Slovenian Minister Janez Podobnik in his capacity as President of the EU Council of Environment Ministers. Environment and climate change issues will be the key theme of the G8 Summit of Heads of State being held in Japan in July. The meeting of Environment Ministers will prepare the subject matter of the Summit.

Global environment issues are acquiring ever broader political dimensions. However, the response of the international community is still insufficiently coordinated. The G8 countries will endeavour to unify their future actions and encourage other countries to do the same. At the meeting in Kobe, the ministers will discuss climate change, biodiversity and waste management. Discussions will focus mainly on an analysis of the role of the most developed countries in the international community and on the G8’s relations with international organisations, third countries and other stakeholders (the business sector, non-governmental organisations, etc.).

Immediately after the conclusion of the Environment Ministers Meeting in Kobe, the Ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-9 CBD), currently being held in Bonn, will also come to an end. The international community has committed itself to significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, but achieving this target will be difficult on account, among other things, of the growing impact of climate changes.

Biodiversity and climate change are key themes of the Slovenian EU Presidency in the field of environment and were the focus of the Informal Meeting of EU Environment Ministers at Brdo in April. In Kobe, Mr Podobnik will present the conclusions of the informal ministerial conference. Their key message is that the criteria of sustainability must be fulfilled in the use of natural resources, including food and biofuel production, while taking account of regional and sub-regional characteristics in different parts of the world.

Slovenian presidency

Eu funding : Improving the safety and environmental performance of vehicles

Lundi 26 mai 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

The European Commission proposes that all new cars from 2012 will have Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems, to drastically improve vehicle safety.

Furthermore lorries and other heavy vehicles should be fitted with Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Systems as of 2013. Last year the Commission already proposed the obligatory fitting of passenger cars with Brake Assist Systems (BAS) to protect pedestrians. These measures will reduce fatal casualties in traffic by an estimated 5000 a year. At the same time the Commission proposes the obligatory introduction in 2012 of low rolling resistance tyres, which considerably save on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and might also reduce noise, while maintaining high level safety. Low rolling resistance tyres will reduce up to 7 gram of CO2 per km, therefore contributing strongly to the CO2 reduction strategy for cars, adopted in February 2007. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions will further be reduced by the proposed introduction of Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems. The Commission proposal will also sweep away more than 150 existing Directives and replace them with one single Regulation, which is directly applicable in the EU and refers to harmonised UN standards.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, stated: “We are simplifying legislation. We are improving road safety. We are promoting fuel efficiency. We are presenting a modern integrated policy approach beneficiary for citizens, for the environment and the industry.”

1. The Commission proposes that the following safety requirements are introduced:

* Mandatory Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems for new car series and commercial vehicles to be phased in from 2012, with all new cars being equipped by 2014. ESC acts on the braking or power systems of a vehicle to assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle in a critical situation (caused, for example, by poor road conditions or excessive speed during cornering). As well as saving casualties, the widespread use of ESC in vehicles could significantly reduce the traffic congestion caused by accidents involving large vehicles.
* Advance Emergency Braking (AEBS) on large vehicles employing sensors to alert the driver when a vehicle is too close to the vehicle in front and, in certain situations, apply emergency braking to prevent or reduce the consequences of a collision (from 2013).
* Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Systems on large vehicles to assist drivers by warning them when their vehicle is in danger of leaving the lane unintentionally, mainly due to lack of driver attention (from 2013).
* In addition, the Commission has proposed in October 2007, that passenger cars need to be fitted with Brake Assist Systems (BAS) as from 2009. If the complete European car fleet is fitted with BAS, as many as 1100 pedestrian lives may be saved every year. The use of BAS can considerably reduce the stopping distance of a vehicle in an emergency situation with the effect that a collision with a pedestrian could be avoided altogether or would occur at least at a far lower speed (see IP /07/1453).
* In line with the recommendation of the CARS 21 report, the repeal of over 50 existing Directives and more than 100 amending Directives to be replaced where possible by references to United Nations Regulations.

2. New requirements for tyres

* Low Rolling Resistance Tyres (LRRT), to be obligatory from 2012 , lead to lower fuel consumption by reducing the resistance to motion that occurs when the tyre rolls, caused mainly by the deformation of the wheel or tyre or the deformation of the road. Rolling resistance depends very much on the material of the wheel or tyre and can be reduced by, for example, the use of silica in the tread compound. In order to avoid any negative impact on safety, explicit safety requirements are introduced alongside new standards on noise.
* Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), obligatory from 2012, warn the driver when the tyre is significantly below its optimum pressure. Maintaining proper tyre inflation is essential for both fuel efficiency and better tyre performance. Deflated tyres can cause up to 4% increase in fuel consumption while reducing tyre lifespan by 45%. Tyres can lose 3-6% of pressure per month, and this may not be noticed by the driver. Deflated tyres are also an important factor causing road accidents.

According to research by TNO in the Netherlands, the fuel saving potential of LRRT and TPMS in passenger cars is 3% and 2.5% respectively. For new cars with expected engine test cycle performance of 130 g CO2/km this would mean additional reductions of more than 7 g CO2/km (3.9 LRRT and 3.25 TPMS). The CO2 reduction potential of LRRT+TPMS on a current car (with a test cycle of, for instance, 160g) would be greater than 7kg/tonne.

Advanced Safety Systems

Preliminary estimates suggest that the new proposals for fitting advanced systems to heavy vehicles could ultimately save around 2500 lives per year (around 500 for ESC and 1000 each for AEBS and LDW) and many more lives outside the EU since the legislation will encourage manufacturers to fit ESC as standard for a wider range of markets. Fitting ESC on cars is likely to save around 2000/2500 lives per year. The proposal also allows for the optional fitting of AEBS and LDW on cars, provided certain standards are met.

Press room - European Commission
  More information:
European Commission

Eu funding : Annan, Gorbachev join EP leaders and other guests for Energy Globe Awards

Lundi 26 mai 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

Politics, music and film meet at the European Parliament on Monday night for the 9th Energy Globe Awards.

The awards - which promote the use of clean and renewable energy - will present awards to projects in following categories: Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Youth. Kofi Annan and Mikhail Gorbachev will be joined by Alanis Morissette and Dionne Warwick whilst Bollywood actor Aamir Khan will represent the world of film.
The ceremony will be presented from the parliament’s building in Brussels by TV presenter and actress Désiree Nosbusch in English. She will also be joined by Italian singer Zucchero and Aboriginal Park coordinator Leanne Liddle.

Some of the prizes will be presented by parliament’s President Hans-Gert Pöttering and the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. The Council of the European Union will be represented by Slovenia’s PM Janez Jansa as Ljubljana currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

On this website over the next few days we will have a full report from the Gala itself as well as interviews with some of the VIPs who attended. The parliament has strongly backed the awards given the importance it attaches to environmental and energy questions. At present MEPs are legislating on a number of important EU-wide subjects:

* Revision of the EU Emission Trading Scheme;
* CO2 emissions from passenger cars;
* Renewable energy sources and biofuels;
* Binding national targets for emissions reductions;
* Carbon Capture and Storage.

As well as the main awards the Energy Globe Awards also help support local projects which help save energy, protect the environment or help more people access drinking water or electricity. This year projects from 109 countries participated. Indian activist Maneka Gandhi is chairing the jury.

European Parliament

EU funding : The CAP reform

Lundi 26 mai 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for strengthening Community environment policy and legislation, with a view to promoting sustainable development in the EU

Adjustment of Common Agricultural Policy – an Incentive for Response by Other EU Policies

A three-day informal meeting of the agriculture ministers of the EU Member States started today in Maribor. The ministers will conclude their visit to Slovenia with a plenary session on Tuesday, 27 May 2008, at Brdo pri Kranju. On the initiative of the Slovenian Presidency, at the meeting the ministers will discuss climate change, biofuels, environmental protection, risk management in agriculture and food safety. For the first time, the agriculture ministers will also exchange views on the legislative proposals relating to the “review” of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will be presented by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel.

The review of the CAP reform opens an important issue on new challenges and the adjustment of European agriculture to the changing global circumstances. In the conclusions adopted by the EU Council in March, the agriculture ministers stressed the need for risk management in agriculture and established that new challenges must receive a broader response, including through other EU policies.

According to Minister Jarc, agriculture needs to respond to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time adapting production to new climate conditions. It is necessary to assess the impact of biofuel production on global food safety, establish sustainability criteria for biofuel production and place greater emphasis on the research and development of second-generation biofuels.

In addition to environmental protection, Minister Jarc highlighted the rising prices of agricultural products, which is the reason why risk management in agriculture is gaining in importance. On account of the growing world population and increased demand for food, agricultural production will have to increase as well.

At the informal meeting, the ministers will discuss how the agricultural sector should be adjusted to these changes; in what way an appropriate balance could be found between delivering sufficient quality food at affordable prices for consumers on the one hand and ensuring the protection of the environment, cultural landscape and natural resources on the other hand; and whether the solutions contained in the legislative proposals are the proper answer to these challenges.

Slovenian presidency

Eu funding : Agriculture Ministers Discuss Pesticides Regulation and High Food Prices

Mardi 20 mai 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for research projects about climate change, pressure from growing human activity and prevention of risks on environment and health
 Grants for research projects concerning sustainable management, production and use of biological resources, through life sciences and biotechnology

At the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, chaired by Slovenian Agriculture Minister Iztok Jarc, EU Ministers discussed the proposal for a Regulation concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market

Mr Jarc gave a report on the progress achieved by the Slovenian Presidency on this dossier, and returned the dossier to the working level. The Ministers also discussed high agricultural product and food prices and the possibility of adopting additional measures to stabilise agricultural markets.

The compromise proposal for a Regulation prepared by the Presidency includes a number of provisions protecting the health of humans, animals and the environment. The Regulation encourages the replacement of the most hazardous plant protection products by safer alternatives; in the event of specific national environmental protection or agro-technological circumstances, Member States will be able to reject the registration of certain products or restrict their use; professional users and producers of plant protection products will be required to keep records of the use of these products; the Regulation will also prevent the duplication of tests on vertebrates.

Mr Jarc also stressed the importance of defining the criteria for the approval of active substances, in which their impact on the long-term food supply in the European Union should be considered.

Due to the fact that the Regulation has been discussed in the Council and in the European Parliament almost two years it is necessary to ensure an early implementation of the reform in the pesticide field. The Presidency will return the dossier for discussion at the Council working level, so that appropriate solutions to unresolved issues may be found.

Debate on high food prices

On the basis of the Presidency report, the Agriculture Ministers discussed the high prices of agricultural products and food. In its discussion paper, the Presidency points to the reasons for the high food prices, such as climatic change, with frequent extreme weather phenomena, the increasing demand for food in developing countries, the growing world population, the production of biofuels and rising energy product prices.

Last year, under the common agricultural policy (CAP), the EU adopted specific short-term measures to reduce prices in the EU, such as increasing the volume of arable land by abolishing mandatory set-aside, increasing milk production quotas for 2008, reducing buffer stocks and export refunds and suspending import duties on almost all cereals.

In the current ‘health check’ of the common agricultural policy, the options being considered are: permanently abolishing the set-aside requirement, gradually abolishing milk quotas by 2015, adjusting market price aid in the cereal sector, and making the transition from support for energy plants to more effective solutions to bolster the bio-energy sector – without, however, adversely impacting on the production of foodstuffs and feedingstuffs – including the production of second-generation biofuels.

Climate change research

At their working lunch, the ministers discussed the contribution of research towards adapting the agricultural sector to climate change. The meeting was also attended by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mariann Fischer Boel, and the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik. The Presidency has drawn up a discussion paper, pointing up questions relating to the need for this kind of research and additional funding, exchanges of experience between Member States and transfers of knowledge to farmers, as well as the suitability of proposed solutions in the context of the review of the common agricultural policy.

EU Slovenian Presidency