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European Commission drops circular economy package

The European Commission (EC) has withdrawn a proposed set of policies on the circular economy and said it will put forward new “more ambitious” measures.

The announcement was made during the presentation of the EC’s 2015 work programme.

EC first vice-president Frans Timmermans said: “At the start of the new legislative cycle is it time to clear the decks so that time and energy can be invested in those proposals that will have the biggest impact on jobs and growth and which have a good prospect of being adopted in the near future.”

A cry of “shame” shouted by an MEP interrupted Timmermans as he mentioned the axing of the circular economy package.

“Let me finish,” said Timmermans, “then you can still cry ‘shame’, but perhaps is not necessary.

“We want to ensure that the circular economy is approached indeed in a circular way and not just half the circle,” he continued off-script.

“[This] means we will withdraw the present proposals and come back with more ambitious proposals that will cover the whole of the circular economy. And will do this in 2015. We will not drag our feet with this.

“We want to do this quickly because we want the circular economy to be in pole position.”

Ahead of the announcement, waste industry trade bodies and environmental organisations urged environment minister Liz Truss to oppose withdrawal of the policy package.

The chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Joan Walley wrote to EC president Juncker expressing concerns around the axing of the proposals.

She said: “While I appreciate that the Commission is seeking to respond to member states’ calls for a priority focus on jobs and growth, it would be short-sighted to throw out measures that could deliver billion of euros in resource productivity gains in a dash to boost short term growth.”

The proposed set of policies included targets of recycling 70% of municipal waste and 80% for packaging by 2030.


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