The Environment Council is comprised of environmental ministers from across the EU who meet up to four times a year.
At the Environment Council meeting (2 March) ministers said that the Commission should take measures to ensure that credit is available to help develop renewable energy sources and recycling activities.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband and Welsh Assembly Minister for Environment Jane Davidson all attended the Council meeting.
The Council stressed that priorities should include modernising Europes infrastructure under the European Economic Recovery Plan. Members said that the European Commission should take full advantage of the potential green investments in waste management including recycling and renewable energies. The Commission should explore measures to promote a reduction in the use of materials, and to encourage their reuse and recycling, including where appropriate, through the setting of targets to boost the demand for recycled materials and products, including through the Lead Market Initiative [EU policy action] on recycling, and to encourage the more sustainable use of renewable raw materials.
The Commission also stressed the importance of encouraging high quality recycling markets in the EU and maintaining public confidence in these markets. It requested for the member states to continue to monitor recycling markets and as a matter of urgency, to propose, as appropriate, short-term and long-term policy measures that could, on the basis of an analysis of recycling markets and once economic conditions improve, achieve sustainable growth and retain employment in the sector.
The Council added that the Commission should recognise the importance of enforcing waste and recycling legislation, such as the new Framework Directive on waste adopted in November 2008, to achieve high rate of reuse and recycling rates.
The Council took note of the fall in demand for recycled materials as a large number of delegations expressed concern at this situation and the need for short and long-term measures to address it. The Council also took note of the recast of the directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment.