Hazardous waste incineration debated by MEPs

Parliament's environment committee deals with hectic agenda in run-up to elections

The work-load of the European Parliament's environment committee is getting increasingly hectic as the June European elections approach and MEPs seek to clear the backlog of legislative proposals. Here are some of the main issues covered over the last two days alongside the draft directive on large combustion plants (see separate article).

Hazardous waste incineration:

The committee took a first look at a report on the proposed revision of the directive on the incineration of hazardous waste. The rapporteur, Independent Dutch MEP Hans Blokland won support from colleagues for his idea of extending the directive's scope to cover non-hazardous waste as well.

At the moment the two different categories of waste are covered by separate EU laws (ENDS Daily 8 January). German environment minister Jürgen Trittin, who participated in the session, added his support to the idea, and said that the Council of Ministers would probably favour merging the two directives.

However, committee members defied calls from the chairman, UK Socialist Ken Collins, to speed up their vote on the issue in help the German presidency reach a common position before the summer. German Christian Democrat Karl-Heinz Florenz said MEPs needed more than one week, as proposed by Mr Collins, to study the report.

Enough members agreed with him for the proposal to be rejected and the committee will now vote on the dossier in two weeks' time. This means the full parliament will not be able to debate the dossier before April, leaving little time for Germany to guide the Council of Ministers to an agreement before the end of its presidency in June.

Packaging markings:

The committee voted on a report on a Commission proposal aimed at harmonising the markings on packaging which help consumers re-use and recycle packaging waste. The proposal would fill a gap left in the 1994 directive on packaging and packaging waste which postponed dealing with the issue.

Because that directive is due to be revised this year, a number of MEPs called for the proposal to be withdrawn from the legislative process and sent back to the European Commission. German Green MEP Hiltrud Breyer said: "If the Commission is about to publish a new proposal, I don't think it makes sense to study a report that is almost obsolete."

The parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee also told the environment committee that the proposal should be withdrawn. The chairman, Mr Collins, informed members that this was not allowed under the rules of procedure. He said it might only be possible if the full parliament votes against the report. Ludwig Krämer, head of waste policy at the Commission environment directorate confirmed that the proposed revision was due out before the end of this year but that there was not even an internal draft ready yet.

Promotion of renewables and energy efficiency:

Danish Liberal Democrat Lone Djbkær presented a report on two proposals which will guide EU research funding for renewable energies and energy efficiency. The committee passed all her amendments including recommendations to have further research into measures that would encourage cogeneration. Another amendment in the non-binding opinion calls on the European Commission to negotiate strategies with each member state on conducting pilot projects for increasing renewables infrastructure.

Monitoring greenhouse gases:

The committee made a bid to strengthen a proposal to update the EU's greenhouse gas monitoring mechanism. MEPs accepted all the amendments of rapporteur, Irish UPE member, James Fitzsimons. The proposal now goes to Strasbourg for a second reading, at which stage the parliament has non-binding powers on the issue.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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