EU states would have to reduce the consumption of most common and polluting plastic bags by 80% by 2019, under draft rules backed by the Environment Committee on Monday. To this end, MEPs recommend using economic instruments such as taxes and levies, marketing restrictions or bans. Plastic carrier bag litter is a major environmental concern, known to affect water bodies and aquatic eco-systems in particular.
EU legislation on aviation emission allowances will cover only intra-EU flights until the start of 2017, but will apply to all flights to or from the EU thereafter, says an informal agreement reached by MEPs and the Council Presidency on Tuesday. The legislation would also require EU member states to report on how they spend revenue from auctioning emission allowances.
Plans to prevent the introduction or halt the spread of “invasive alien species” of plants, animals or insects that cause ecological and economic damage were agreed by MEPs and the Greek Presidency of the Council on Wednesday. The draft legislation, which would require EU member states to coordinate their efforts, provides for a ban on species declared to be of “Union concern”.
Organisers of the “Right2Water” campaign urged the EU Commission to guarantee access to water and sanitation as a human right, and give a legal undertaking that water services will not be liberalised in the EU, in the first European Parliament debate on a European Citizens’ Initiative in Parliament on Monday. MEPs shared the view that access to water is a basic human right, but some pointed out that rules on providing drinkable water remain the remit of EU member states.
A proposed update of EU law to make environmental impact assessments clearer, build in biodiversity and climate change, and involve the public, was backed by the Environment Committee on Wednesday. This update, already informally agreed with the Council of Ministers, includes beefed up rules to ensure that decisions to authorize development projects are not influenced by conflicts of interest.
Parliament is to hold a public hearing next Monday on the universal right to clean water, the first EP hearing under the European Citizens' Initiative allowing the public to ask the EU authorities for new legislation.
The priorities of the Greek Council Presidency are being outlined to the various parliamentary committees by Greek ministers, from 16 to 23 January. This text will be updated daily.
An agreement struck by EP and Council negotiators on access to genetic resources and sharing the benefits of their use was backed by the environment committee on Wednesday. The agreement also covers traditional knowledge held by indigenous or local communities. The new rules should contribute to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.
Draft EU rules requiring member states to clamp down on illegal waste shipments within the EU and to non-EU countries were backed by the Environment Committee on Wednesday. These rules would close legal loopholes and entail more inspections. MEPs propose that member states include in their inspection plans a minimum number of physical checks, and that inspectors be given more powers.
Pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers will be obliged to upload the results of all their European clinical trials to a publicly accessible database, under draft legislation informally agreed with EU ministers and approved by Public Health Committee MEPs on Wednesday.