Conciliation beckons for EU Life fund

Parliament approves higher Life budget, defers decision on GM animal feeds directive

MEPs voted for a conciliation tussle with ministers yesterday by insisting that the budget for the EU's only dedicated fund for environmental programmes should be increased from euros 613m to euros 850m. The approval of the higher budget target for the Life programme was expected and follows a now-familiar pattern of bargaining with the Council of Ministers.

The Life fund finances demonstration and pilot projects aimed at nurturing technological innovations with positive environmental impacts in the waste and water sectors in particular (ENDS Daily 28 January). The programme is now being extended to countries waiting to join the EU. Rapporteur Marie-Noëlle Lienemann said the hike was necessary because the fund had not been "steadily increased" since its inception, even after the number of member states rose from 12 to 15.

The parliament also decided yesterday to return proposals to revise a directive on additives in animal feed to its agricultural affairs committee. The move came after the rapporteur MEP demanded that it include rules on labelling of genetically modified organisms.

Friedrich Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf also called for the parliament to have greater influence over the revision by changing its legal base to the co-decision procedure instead of simple consultation. The relevant EU commissioner, David Byrne, dismissed the calls and his position was backed by the parliament's legal affairs committee. Both said the rapporteur's proposals were not acceptable because the directive was not aimed at health or consumer protection.

The parliament last year called on the Commission to rethink its GMO labelling regime, which it said was "piecemeal in scope" and lacked "vision" (ENDS Daily 16 December 1999). Mr Byrne recently took over responsibility for labelling GMO foods from industry commissioner Erkki Liikanen (ENDS Daily 12 January).

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111. See also the parliament's daily news report for 16/2/2000 and texts adopted at the parliament's plenary session.

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