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Preparation Environment Council, 14 October 2010 - Hoofdinhoud
The first Environment Council under the Belgian Presidency will be held tomorrow on 14 October in Luxembourg. Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli, and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Commission. The Council will begin by adopting conclusions on the EU's biodiversity policy for the COP 10 conference in Nagoya on a global vision, targets and the international regime for sharing the benefits of biodiversity. A presentation on GMOs from the Commission will then ensue, followed by an exchange of views. After considering conclusions on options for moving beyond the EU's current 20% target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Ministers will discuss conclusions to set out the EU position at the COP 16 climate change negotiations in Cancun next month. Among the AOB points, the Commission will express its sympathy for the victims of the red mud spill in western Hungary and emphasize the need for investment in inspections to prevent similar costly and catastrophic accidents.
The Council is due to agree conclusions on biodiversity which will underpin the EU negotiating position in Nagoya. The Conclusions are expected to cover the Strategic Plan 2011-2020, the mobilisation of resources, the TEEB initiative (a Commission-funded study into the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity), Access and Benefit sharing (a legally binding Protocol on the use of genetic materials), the establishment of IPBES (the biodiversity equivalent of the IPPC), and Marine Protected Areas. Discussions are expected to centre round the overall level of ambition of the Strategic Plan of the Convention, the question of financing, and the negotiations on Access and Benefit Sharing Protocol.
The Commission will present the linkage between the new approach to GMO cultivation and the earlier demands from the Environment Council as well as the 2008 Council conclusions. With the new approach, the EU-wide authorisation system remains fully harmonised and is being further improved in line with the 2008 Council conclusions. Furthermore, strengthened risk assessment and monitoring functions are key priorities for the Commission. The Commission has also submitted an information note to the Council on the state of implementation of these conclusions. Two specific questions will be addressed by the Council: how the proposed legislation will contribute to the requirements of the conclusions of the Environment Council of 5 December 2008; and the extent to which the draft regulation provides Member States with a workable and legally sound option to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions setting out the EU's ambitions for the UNFCCC conference in Cancun. These conclusions should build on the Commission's stepwise approach, as set out in its March Communication, towards a comprehensive legally binding agreement where developed countries and the more advanced developing countries commit to reductions and actions to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. Discussions are likely to consider how to improve the existing international provisions in order to promote greater environmental integrity and efficiency in reducing emissions. The Council will also review its examination of the options outlined by the European Commission for moving beyond 20% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Any other business
Any other business points include information from the Commission about lessons to be learned from the red mud spill in western Hungary, state aids to mining industry, a report from the Czech Republic about the seventh EUROBATS conference on the protection of bats, and information from the Presidency about the management of biowaste, and on the recent biodiversity conference in Ghent.
The Commission will inform the Council about future initiatives being prepared for a roadmap to a low-carbon economy, on adaptation to climate change, on methodologies for calculating carbon emissions from soil, as well as on the promotion of carbon capture and sequestration under the terms of the EU's Emission Trading System. In addition, the Commission is expected to present its progress report relating to the EU's obligations under the Kyoto protocol.
A press conference is foreseen at 12:30.