What to expect this autumn

One of the main highlights of the second half of 2008 will be December’s international climate talks in Poznan´, Poland.
In the EU, the French presidency will try to seal a ministerial agreement on the proposed climate and energy package, and plans to reduce carbon emissions from new cars by the end of the year.
It also hopes governments will agree on several other proposals including a draft regulation setting stricter emission standards for new heavy-duty vehicles. Otherwise the European commission is expected to issue proposals revising the national emission ceiling directive and an action plan on urban mobility.

Energy ministers will meet in Brussels on 9-10 October to continue talks on the commission’s climate and energy package. Environment ministers will also hold talks in Luxembourg on 20 October. The French presidency still hopes to broker a deal on the package in December.
Ministers and government officials of the 191 countries party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet in Poznan´ from 1-12 December to discuss actions to tackle climate change after 2012. The conference is expected to be a significant step towards a post-Kyoto climate agreement in Copenhagen next year.

The French presidency hopes to seal a ministerial agreement on plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars in December. France and Germany bridged their differences on the plans in June. “With the Germans we reached an agreement that works,” Mr Sarkozy said in July.

Proposals to revise the EU’s 1996 integrated pollution prevention and control directive will be discussed by environment ministers in October and December, according to provisional agendas for formal council meetings during the French presidency. No council agreement on the plans is foreseen during this period.
The parliament’s environment committee will debate draft amendments to the plans proposed by German rapporteur Holger Krahmer.

Environment ministers could reach political agreement on stricter EU emission standards for new heavy-duty vehicles (Euro VI) when they meet in October. In July, the parliament’s environment committee said the limits should apply to newly approved models from January 2013, three months earlier than suggested by the commission.

Proposals to revise the EU’s 1999 “Eurovignette” infrastructure-charging directive for heavy goods vehicles are expected to be discussed at an informal meeting of transport ministers in La Rochelle, France on 1-2 September. The proposals were tabled in July.
The commission hopes European legislators will adopt the plans swiftly but the parliament’s transport committee has expressed concerns. The proposals’ timing was also criticised. The commission should not propose extra charges to reduce pollution from lorries in the middle of a major oil crisis, some have argued.

Transport ministers meeting in October could agree legislative proposals requiring public authorities to factor energy and environmental costs into vehicle buying decisions. The parliament’s environment committee voted on the proposals in June.

The commission is to issue an urban mobility action plan by the end of the year following publication of a green paper on the issue last year. The paper suggests several options for greening urban transport including road-charging schemes and providing economic incentives to develop alternative fuels infrastructure and clean technologies. Transport ministers are expected to adopt a resolution in December.

The French presidency will try to resurrect stalled council negotiations on a proposed EU soil protection directive. France was one of five countries that blocked an agreement on a compromise text last year. An agreement could be reached by environment ministers in October.

The commission will table proposals to strengthen legislation on illegal timber imports in September. Farm ministers will debate the plans later in the month, and discussions in the environment council will follow in October.

An ad hoc working group on genetically modified organisms set up by France in July to review EU authorisation procedures in this area will start work in September and submit its conclusions at December’s environment ministers meeting. French junior environment minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet insisted talks were not intended to change existing rules significantly but merely improve them.

The council of ministers will complete its first-reading adoption of a proposed legislative package on maritime safety known as Erika III. Transport ministers have already adopted common positions on five of the package’s seven proposals. They are expected to agree on two other proposals on the obligations of flag state and civil liability and financial guarantees of ship owners in December. The European parliament voted on the proposals last year.

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