MEPs vote on chemicals, aviation tax

Environment committee endorses dangerous substances ban, makes case for EU kerosene tax

The European Parliament's environment committee yesterday endorsed a European Commission proposal for an EU ban on three substances considered hazardous to human health and the environment. The proposal is to amend the 1976 "marketing and use restriction" directive, which is used to achieve EU-wide phase-outs of substances considered carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction.

MEPs agreed to add the following substances to the list of those controlled by the directive: 4-chloroaniline, a chemical intermediate used in various industrial processes which is associated with bladder cancer and internal organ damage; ceramic insulation fibres made from aluminium silicate, which causes lung cancer; and an obsolete pesticide called etacelasil, which is toxic to reproduction.

The proposed phase-out appears to be uncontentious and has not sparked opposition from either industry or EU member states. The Commission says the plans also have a "clear cost-benefit ratio" and will provide "huge gains" for human health with no extra costs. None of the products reaches the public consumer market, it says, though the ceramic fibres are contained in some "hobby" products. The ban proposal will now be considered by EU governments.

Also in the environment committee this week, MEPs endorsed a draft opinion in which Swedish MEP Karl-Erik Olsson contradicts a European Commission policy paper which rejects the introduction of an EU aviation fuel tax in the absence of a global tax regime (ENDS Daily 20 September). Mr Olsson argues that the environmental gains of such a tax outweigh any competition disadvantages.

MEPs also introduced an amendment to the opinion, calling on the Commission to investigate whether introducing landing charges on all aircraft arriving at EU airports would be a feasible step towards tackling the environmental burden of air traffic. The opinion will now be debated by the parliament's plenary.

French MEP Marie-Noëlle Lienemann called for an increase in proposed EU funding for networks between local authorities and projects to further sustainable urban development. The proposal suggested programme funding of euros 12.4m (ENDS Daily 9 December 1999). Ms Lienemann wants it to receive euros 20m.

The environment committee also passed a resolution on a future European Climate Change Programme (see separate article) and debated European Commission proposals for directives on renewable energy and maritime safety. The main parliamentary discussions on these two dossiers are being held in other committees.

Follow Up:
European Parliament environment committee, tel: +32 2 284 2111. Preparatory documents for the meeting are posted here, while reports adopted by the committee will, in time, appear here.

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