The final Environment Council under the Irish EU Presidency took place in Luxembourg yesterday, 18 June.
At that meeting, Council adopted Conclusions on the EU Climate Adaptation Strategy. This is a very positive step forward in EU climate policy, demonstrating a progressive and coherent response to adaptation at EU level and across the Member States.
Council also endorsed Conclusions on the post-2015 framework (following on from the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development in June 2012). These Conclusions were prepared in cooperation with colleagues across environment, development and foreign affairs work streams, a co-operative approach which has been a particular hallmark of the Irish Presidency. The post-2015 agenda will require input from a broad range of stakeholders and this recent joint-working initiative is a strong foundation for future work on this agenda.
Council also discussed the recent report of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda. There was broad support for the report and in particular its emphasis on the need to ensure that the three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social – are at the heart of the post-2015 agenda. The Council took note of a progress report on the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) proposal, with a particular focus on the 5% threshold for conventional biofuels, ILUC factors, treatment of new installations, the bonus for degraded land, fraud prevention, the review clause and delegated acts.
The Council also took note of progress reports on F-gases, Environmental Impact Assessment and Access and Benefit Sharing which, along with the ILUC file mentioned above, will be taken forward by the Lithuanian Presidency. The Council also received updates from the Presidency and the Commission on a range of international environmental issues, including an update from Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, on the recent two-week inter-sessional meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ahead of Conference of the Parties 19 (COP19) in Warsaw in November.
Concluding the business at Council, I highlighted the significant progress made on a range of environment/climate legislative dossiers during the Irish Presidency, with 4 First Reading Agreements already achieved and a number of other files expected to be brought to finality in the remaining 10 days of the Irish Presidency. I also highlighted the leadership of the Irish Presidency in achieving progress on a range of international environmental issues, not least among these the conclusion of a new international treaty on mercury.
Over lunch, the Council, joined by the Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, had an exchange of views on progress on implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The purpose of the discussion was to take stock of progress to date, to look ahead and to consider how the directive links to other EU policies.