Dutch-German regions cooperate on waste

Neighbouring states, provinces, hope to limit cross-border waste shipments through transparency

Environment ministers from several German states and Dutch provinces met on Thursday and Friday in Hannover to extend cross-border environmental cooperation, particularly regarding transfrontier waste shipments and an expected global ban on the organotin compound tributyltin (TBT).

This is the second time that political leaders from Lower Saxony and Bremen in Germany have met with their Dutch counterparts representing Drenthe, Fryslan, Groningen and Overijssel provinces to increase cooperation on environmental matters and to "present a united voice" on specific issues at an EU level.

The issue of cross-border waste transports was one of the meeting's priorities and a decision was taken to seek EU funds to develop what participants claim will be a ground-breaking information sharing system. According to a spokesperson for the Lower Saxony environment ministry, if the system goes ahead it will be the first time that two EU member states have implemented an entirely transparent exchange of regional waste transport data.

The spokesperson added that officials at the meeting expressed the hope that the regional system would serve as a model for an eventual EU-wide system of complete and open exchange of trans-national waste shipments. Both sides hope this will make it more difficult for companies to export waste to other member states where treatment and disposal rules are less stringent.

Also on the agenda was discussion of a proposed global ban from 2003 on TBT as a ship anti-fouling paint. The meeting endorsed the proposal, which is currently under consideration by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) (ENDS Daily 6 October 2000). German officials also back their federal government's proposal for an earlier national ban (ENDS Daily 24 January), but according to sources the meeting as a whole felt that the IMO proposal's timetable was "more realistic".

Follow Up:
Lower Saxony environment ministry, tel: +49 511 120 3399.

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