The Irish Presidency attaches a high importance to taking forward the EU's progressive approach to environmental protection and sustainability and I am focusing an agenda around three key areas: advancement of the EU's internal environmental policy and legislation. Negotiation on a number of proposals in the areas of air quality, waste management, climate change, chemicals and nature conservation is ongoing or planned with a view to maximising progress at the Council of Environment Ministers meetings on 2 March and 28-29 June. A second area is preparation of the environmental input to the annual review of the Lisbon Agenda by the European Council at its spring meeting in March. Finalisation of the environmental input will be a priority for the Environment Council meeting on 2 March. The third area is effective participation by the EU in wider international fora. My main priority is to lead EU participation in a number of significant international meetings in the first half of 2004, including the seventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, incorporating the first meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, to be held in Malaysia this month.
An informal meeting of the Environment Council will be held in Waterford on 14 to 16 May, and will address future policy development on the sustainable use of natural resources and the recovery and recycling of waste.
In addition, my Department is organising or involved in a number of events to be held in Ireland during the Presidency. These include: a Conference on Emissions Trading in February; a meeting of the European Forum for Architectural Policies in April; a Conference on Sustainable Development in April; and a stakeholder Conference on implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans in May.