EU environment ministers will hold their second formal meeting under the Austrian presidency on 21 December rather than on 8 December as originally planned, the Austrian environment ministry announced on Wednesday. Though no special reason for the delay was given formally, sources give several explanations. One is that the presidency wanted extra time to complete negotiations on a revision of the EU's 1990 directive on releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Working groups in the Council of Ministers are currently meeting fortnightly to hammer out differences over the amendment, which has been made increasingly controversial by Europe's row over the introduction of genetically modified crops. Another theory is that the Austrian presidency wanted to give time for Germany's new environment minister to contribute fully after the uncertainty forced by the general election last month. The change of government and the appointment of Jürgen Trittin, a Green, to the environment ministry, is likely to bring Germany closer to the presidency position on the GMO releases dossier and the draft "end-of-life" vehicle directive, according to sources. News of the delay has been circulating in the Council of Ministers for more than a month, it emerged after the ministry's announcement.
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