New EP environment committee fires up

Caroline Jackson confirmed as chair; question hangs over rapporteur for water framework directive

The European Parliament's new environment committee will meet for the first time next week, with UK Conservative MEP Caroline Jackson in the chair. Ms Jackson's appointment had already been rumoured (ENDS Daily 20 July), but was officially confirmed by a vote of the full parliament in Strasbourg yesterday. The assembly also decided to make Spanish Socialist Carlos Lage and the Dutch Green Alexander de Roo, both newly elected MEPs, vice-chairs of the committee. A third vice-chair has yet to be elected as the EPP (centre right) candidate, Ria Oomen-Ruijten having apparently chosen not to stand for the position. The agenda at the committee's first meeting will be light as it sorts out the largely administrative chore of confirming which MEPs will be made rapporteurs of which legislative proposals, with responsibility for drafting the parliament's opinion and conducting any negotiations with the Council of Ministers. All returning MEPs are expected to remain rapporteurs on their individual dossiers, but a major question mark hangs over who will take on the draft water framework directive. This important EU policy proposal - which would govern water quality policy in the Union for the coming decades - had been the domain of UK Labour member Ian White, who failed to get re-elected. One MEP told ENDS Daily that the new rapporteur was likely to be again chosen from the Socialist group.

* In a related development, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that its current chief, Rolf Annerberg, is to head the political cabinet of new EU environment commissioner, Margot Wallström. Director-general of the EPA since 1991, Mr Annerberg previously held senior posts in the Swedish industry and environment ministries. Currently, he is also chairman of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra), a member of the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation and of Sweden's parliamentary committee on environmental policy goals as well as a representative on the Swedish Council of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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