Environmental policy chiefs in Brussels have called for urgency in adopting the circular economy package because its passage into law is expected to be delayed until early next year.
The European Commission published its initial proposals last December, including a 65% recycling target for municipal waste by 2030 and a 75% target for packaging waste.
In June, the EU Parliament’s rapporteur Simona Bonafe (pictured) published her amendments, including higher recycling targets and the removal of a clause allowing member states to offer commingled instead of separate collections where it is technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).
Since then, the Parliament’s environment committee has been discussing Bonafe’s proposals, with concerns about her proposed single methodology for calculating recycling rates as opposed to the Commision’s two.
The committee was expected to agree its position on 8 November but Bonafe says January is now a more likely date.
In a committee discussion on 29 September, the Commission’s environment director Kestutis Sadauskas called for the committee to reach a deal “as soon as possible”.
However, he shared his concerns about Bonafe’s proposals, including a possible overburden on the Commission to review its measures.
He said there were 10 new tasks for the Commission to complete in Bonafe’s proposals, which could cause the implementation of the package to take longer.
Sadauskas argued that the committee’s recycling targets would be crucial for the Parliament reaching agreement with the Council of Ministers, the final step of the proposals’ passage into law.
“Let’s avoid prescription,” he added.
Concluding the debate, Bonafe defended her proposals’ pragmatism: “Everything we are putting forward as objectives are based on best practices that are already in place today.”
She seemed to be sticking to her guns on a singular calculation method for recycling rates, but suggested there could be room for discussion on the point of measurement.
“I think we can all agree to harmonise the calculation method. But we tend to disagree when it comes to the input of measurement. We need to do a lot of work there,” she said.
As for concerns that her proposals were overly prescriptive, Bonafe said: “If the principle of subsidiarity leads to the fact that certain member states are sending 90% of waste to landfill or incineration, and that they are taking important raw materials out of the circular economy, in that case we are not in favour of subsidiarity.
“If, however, subsidiarity means that we are going to have a clear legislative text which takes account of the diversity that exists in our member states, and if it means we can help those member states reach certain targets, we are in favour of subsidiarity.
“All we can hope now is that the Council follows our lead, that they too see the urgency to all this and they can open negotiations as quickly as possible,” she concluded.
In an interview with EU policy news website Vieuws before the discussion, Bonafe said: “If it depends on me, I would set the timing of the vote in the committee to November, but my colleagues ask me for more time.
“This is not a question of time – I have 2,000 amendments. The point is to find the majority and to have a good package. I hope in January to be ready.”