In anticipation of the 2015 Commission Work Programme (CWP 2015), which is expected to be approved in mid-December, concerns abound over its tendency towards environmental deregulation.
In a letter addressed by President Juncker and Vice-President Timmermans to the new Commissioners, the priorities of the Commission for 2015 are sorted under respective headings of the 10-priority plan for Europe. Given the absence of a clearly articulated environmental priority, the plan includes under Priority 3 – A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy the “In depth evaluation of Birds and Habitats directives” and the “Reassessment of air and waste packages”. The list also includes a chapter on the REFIT programme, which mandates the review of pending policy packages on air, waste, energy taxation, eco-design and energy labeling and a compensation fund for oil pollution.
The inclusion of the possible merging of the Habitats and Birds Directives in the new Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Carmenu Vella’s mandate has been criticised by Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendriks. In a letter addressed to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, Minister Hendriks stressed: “Finally, I want to be frank with you that your asking the Commissioner for Environment to evaluate the potential for merging and modernising the Birds and Habitats Directives in this form is a cause of concern to me. If current trends continue, we will not be able to achieve the objectives of the EU biodiversity strategy by 2020; we must step up our efforts. The directives are a central, successful cornerstone of European biodiversity conservation. …¶… At the same time, they are firmly anchored in administrative practice and provide the legal security companies require”.
In a joint letter addressed to President Juncker, the Green 10 coalition of Europe’s largest environmental groups indicate 5 urgent actions and 10 priorities for the new Commission. “During the first year the European Commission should focus on the following urgent actions:
- Put sustainable development at the core of the EU agenda.
- Rebuild trust in a European project for people.
- Make environmental policy a key tool of job creation.
- Regain Competitiveness through innovation
- Foster investment in green and nature-based solutions.”
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