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Further opposition to circular economy package withdrawal

MEPs are discussing opposing the European Commission’s withdrawal of a policy package on the circular economy while a group of lawyers has questioned the validity of the Commission’s move.

In December, the Commission announced that measures including higher recycling targets will be dropped from its work programme for 2015. It said that “more ambitious plans” will be drafted this year.

Similarly, the Commission will not continue work on proposals to improve air quality and other policies put forward by the previous Commission. However, it said it “will wait for the views of the European Parliament and the Council before formalising the withdrawals”. A parliamentary vote will take place on 15 January.

UK Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe was considering issuing a cross-party statement to oppose the axing of the environmental measures. A spokesman for Bearder’s office told MRW the resolution was still in a drafting stage.

Meanwhile, environmental lawyers from the pan-European Avosetta Group have questioned whether the EU treaty permitted the withdrawal of major legislative proposals which had already been discussed within the Council, such as the package on the circular economy.

Richard Macrory, professor of environmental law at University College London and member of the group, told MRW the Commission’s move was unusual, and this prompted the group to express concerns.

In a statement, they noted that promoting an efficient circular economy was among the key objectives of the 7th General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020, which was adopted in a legally binding decision of the European Parliament and the Council in November 2013.

They also said that the principle of Better Regulation, which was used to justify the withdrawal of many of the policy proposals, could not prevail over the environmental protection requirements that are included in the EU treaty.

The lawyers added that dropping ‘ambitious environmental policies’ was counterproductive for the EU internal market.

“Waste and pollutants do not respect member states’ borders,” they said. “The EU is better placed than 28 individual member states to lay down a common regulatory framework to deal with these issues.”

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