Members of the European Parliament's environment committee began debating a draft EU regulation to speed up the phase-out of certain ozone-depleting substances this week. In a report presented to the committee for the first time, Austrian Socialist MEP Ilona Graenitz called for an even faster phase-out for hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) than envisaged by the European Commission. Under the Commission's proposal, HCFC use in solvents, aerosols, foam production and refrigeration would be required to be reduced to 35% of 1997 levels by 2008 (ENDS Daily 1 July). Ms Graenitz is calling for production and consumption to be cut to 75% of the baseline by the end of 2001, followed by further reductions to 30% of 1997 levels by 2008. The MEP is also demanding a ban on production of HCFCs for export three years after their use is banned completely within the EU in 2025, whereas the Commission has proposed to allow exports to continue. During the committee's session, MEPs clashed over proposals to phase out use of the agricultural fumigant methyl bromide. Italian Christian Democrat MEP Danil Poggiolini said that Mediterranean farmers would be harmed unless the EU stuck to the 2005 phase-out date agreed under the Montreal protocol. Dutch independent MEP Hans Blockland responded that a methyl bromide phase-out in the Netherlands had not damaged farmers' competitiveness. The committee is due to vote on the report next month.
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