Presidente. − L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sull'interrogazione orale alla Commissione sul riesame della raccomandazione 2001/331/CE che stabilisce i criteri minimi per le ispezioni ambientali negli Stati membri, di Miroslav Ouzký, a nome della Commissione per l'ambiente, la sanità pubblica e la sicurezza alimentare (O-0085/2008 - B6-0479/2008).
Miroslav Ouzký, author. − Madam President, it is difficult to stand up now after that particularly lively debate and switch to another topic!
I would like to stress that the good and consistent enforcement of environmental legislation is essential for its credibility, for a level playing field and for ensuring that the environmental objectives will be met. The issue of environmental inspections is, therefore, very important for the work of my committee, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
On 14 November the Commission published the communication on environmental inspections in the Member States. This communication reviewed Recommendation 2001/331/EC of the European Commission, providing minimum criteria for environmental inspections.
The communication contains some worrying messages. It states that the information submitted by the Member States on the implementation of the recommendation is incomplete or difficult to compare. It states that there are still large differences in the way environmental inspections are being carried out in the EU. It states that the scope of the recommendation is inadequate and that it does not include many important activities such as Natura 2000 and the control of illegal waste shipping. It states that inspection plans have not been implemented and where they do exist that they are often not publicly available.
My committee noted with concern the conclusions from the Commission stating that the full implementation of the environmental legislation in the Community cannot be ensured. This would not only lead to continuing damage to the environment, but also to the distortion of competition within and between the Member States.
My committee therefore formulated four questions to the Commission, which can be summarised as follows. First, why does the Commission only wish to amend the recommendation – why does it not propose a directive on environmental inspections? Second, why has the Commission opted instead for attaching environmental inspection requirements to existing directives individually, a process that will take a lot of time? Third, why is the Commission not prepared to use a directive to define terms such as ‘inspection’ and ‘audit’, which are interpreted in different ways by Member States? Fourth, why is the Commission not prepared to transform IMPEL into an effective EU environmental inspection force?
I would like to thank the Commission in advance for its reply and I would like to conclude by emphasising that, in my opinion, the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation should get the same political attention as the adoption of the legislation in the Commission, in the Council and in Parliament.
Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. − Madam President, I am very happy to be presenting my green credentials in addition to my anti-fraud credentials, so changing topics is also a pleasure. I would like to thank the European Parliament for this discussion on the very important topic of environmental inspections.
Recognising the need for EU-wide action, Parliament and the Council adopted the recommendation on environmental inspections in 2001. The objective was to lay down common criteria for environmental inspections in order to ensure a better and more consistent implementation of environmental legislation through the Community.
At the time there was a long discussion on whether these criteria should be binding or non-binding. As a compromise, a non-binding recommendation was adopted. Member States pledged to implement it fully and the Commission was asked to review this decision on the basis of the experience with the implementation of the recommendation by the Member States.
The Commission launched the review process with its communication of November 2007. In this communication the Commission concluded that, although the recommendation has led to improvements in environmental inspections in some Member States, it has unfortunately not been fully implemented in all Member States.
The Commission thus put forward its preliminary views on how the situation could be improved. The measures that we deem necessary are: firstly, a modification of the recommendation to make it stronger and clearer, including a better reporting mechanism; secondly, where necessary, to complement the recommendation with legally binding inspection requirements in individual directives; and thirdly, to continue supporting the exchange of information and best practice between inspectorates in the context of IMPEL.
The Commission is now gathering the input of the other institutions and of stakeholders on these initial proposals and will then present its final proposals.
Now, coming to the questions raised, I would like to make the following remarks.
Firstly, I would like to clarify that the views presented in the Commission’s communication of November 2007 do not exclude the possibility of the Commission presenting a proposal for a directive on environmental inspections in the future. The Commission’s view, as expressed in its communication, is that there is a need for EU-wide legally binding rules to ensure effective environmental inspections. In that respect we have the same position as Parliament.
The question is, however, whether such rules should be horizontal and cover all environmental inspections or whether they should be sectoral and apply to specific installations or activities.
Both of these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. A horizontal approach would be simpler and quicker to put in place. On the other hand, the sectoral approach would enable us to better address the specific aspects of the different installations or activities. For instance, the requirements for inspections of waste shipments are completely different from those for the inspection of industrial installations. By being more targeted we could set more effective requirements.
To some extent, the sectoral approach is the one that we have already been practising for several years. For example, in the Seveso II Directive, we have provisions on inspections of installations in order to prevent accidents. These provisions have proven to be very successful. We have now included inspection requirements in our proposal to revise the IPPC Directive.
Another sector where we see the need for further action is the implementation of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. The growing problem of illegal waste shipments is a risk for human health and the environment.
There is clear evidence of illegal shipments recorded during joint EU waste shipment inspections coordinated by IMPEL. Recent trade data and studies on the export of certain waste streams, in particular electrical and electronic waste and end-of-life vehicles, indicate that significant volumes leave the EU.
In many cases these shipments seem to violate the EU Waste Shipment Regulation’s export bans. Serious incidents of EU exports for dumping of waste in developing countries, such as the Côte d’Ivoire incident in 2006, as well as a recent Greenpeace report about waste illegally shipped to West Africa, underline the severity of the problem.
The Commission is currently examining the need for additional initiatives, including improved legislative requirements, in order to further and strengthen the inspections and controls of waste shipments.
As we stated in our communication, we also see a need to establish common definitions for terms that are relevant for inspections. For this purpose we think that a horizontal recommendation would be an appropriate instrument.
As regards the idea of transforming IMPEL into an EU environmental inspection force, IMPEL was created as an informal network of Member States’ inspection authorities. Its objective is to facilitate exchange of information and best practice between the people who are actually applying environmental legislation in the Member States. I think we should preserve this role of IMPEL of bringing together the expertise of inspectors and allowing for an informal exchange of ideas at European level.
From the Commission’s side we will continue our support to IMPEL and reinforce our successful cooperation. This year IMPEL was transformed from an informal network into an international association. This will not only give IMPEL more visibility but also open new possibilities of activities for IMPEL. To go further and create an EU environmental inspection force with powers of entry and powers to refer Member States to the Court of Justice is an interesting and ambitious idea. However, it would raise important legal and institutional questions.
We should also look at the instruments for the improvement of the enforcement of EU environmental legislation at our disposal at present and consider whether these could be further developed or put to better use. For example, the horizontal infringement cases that the Commission launched against Member States for systematic failure to enforce certain obligations, such as for the presence of thousands of illegal landfills in some Member States, have led to the establishment of improved enforcement strategies in the Member States.
Another example of an initiative that has led to better enforcement is the joint inspections of waste shipments throughout the Community organised within the framework of IMPEL with the support of the Commission. We would consider ways to reinforce this cooperation and encourage all Member States to participate in it.
Caroline Jackson, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Madam President, I find what the Commissioner has said rather disappointing. I know that he is standing in for Mr Dimas and could not help but read out what was given to him, but I think we need rather more than that.
Environmental legislation is something that most people – perhaps all people – in this Chamber are in favour of – perhaps even including UKIP, who are apparently not here and are perhaps ironing their Union Jacks.
The trouble is that we do not know what is happening in the Member States, and the proposals from the European Commission go only a very little way to improving that situation. We, in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, are still in favour of having a directive rather than a recommendation. I do not, myself, see why we could not have a general directive regarding environmental inspections and specific rules attached to specific directives where that is appropriate.
Let me then turn to the question of an EU environmental inspection force. It is perhaps a little strange that this idea comes forward from the mouth of a British Conservative – vote Blue, go Green – but we do need this, because, otherwise, the Commission is entirely dependent on the Member States for the information that they choose to give it.
It is extraordinary that nine years after the Landfill Directive came into force, Spain is now being prosecuted before the European Court of Justice for having 60 000 illegal landfills, taking up more than half-a-million tonnes of illegally dumped waste. We think we know what is happening south of Naples. The Birds Directive adopted in 1979 is still being widely neglected.
The Commission often finds that its prosecutions before the Court of Justice on environmental matters are initiated by private citizens. I do not think that this is good enough. We should tell the people of Europe that we cannot be sure that the environmental legislation which we are adopting is being complied with. Given the fact that we are now looking at climate change legislation, that is very serious. We must return to the issue of an EU environmental inspection force, which I fully support.
Genowefa Grabowska, w imieniu grupy PSE. – Pani Przewodnicząca! W imieniu mojej grupy politycznej oraz jako członek Komisji Środowiska chcę w pełni poprzeć pytania i podzielam zaniepokojenie posłów, które w nich jest wyrażone.
Komunikat Komisji z listopada 2007 r. wzbudza rzeczywiście wiele kontrowersji i stawia znaki zapytania u wszystkich myślących prośrodowiskowo i u tych, którzy chcą, aby prawo środowiska było nie tylko stanowione w Parlamencie Europejskim, ale by było egzekwowane i by było egzekwowane zgodnie z duchem, który tutaj wypracowaliśmy.
Do tego niezbędny jest system skutecznej kontroli wdrażania i przestrzegania prawa, a my ciągle mamy ten system nieopracowany. Mamy systemy narodowe, które funkcjonują rozbieżnie i różnie, natomiast na szczeblu unijnym mamy zalecenie. Zalecenie nie ma mocy wiążącej. Wszyscy o tym wiemy. Traktat rzymski stanowi w art. 249 o tych sprawach i pokazuje różnice między dyrektywą a zaleceniem. Dlatego bardzo proszę Komisję, aby podeszła do tej sprawy w sposób poważny i zechciała ująć cały system kontroli przestrzegania prawa, inspekcji tudzież sprawozdań wypływających z tych procedur w postać normy wiążącej, w postać dyrektywy dotyczącej kontroli przestrzegania prawa środowiskowego na terenie Unii Europejskiej.
Nie możemy tego pozostawić jak do tej pory i nie możemy oczekiwać, że poprawa jednego z zaleceń z 2001 roku, tzn. nałożenie na to zalecenie nowych obowiązków państw, cokolwiek zmieni. Nie, panie komisarzu, nic nie zmieni. Po prostu, jeżeli chcemy mieć skuteczne prawo środowiska, musimy mieć skuteczny system jego egzekwowania i system kontroli.
I jeszcze raz: pyta pan, czy wprowadzać sektorowe, czy całościowe postanowienia kontrolne. A ja pytam, czy pan chce chronić całe środowisko, czy sektory. A zatem w tym tkwi odpowiedź.
Johannes Blokland, namens de IND/DEM-Fractie. – Voorzitter, in de afgelopen jaren hebben we in het Europees Parlement veel milieuwetgeving goedgekeurd. Milieu staat terecht hoog op de agenda. Niet alleen het produceren van wetgeving is echter van belang, maar ook het uitvoeren van die wetgeving. Juist daar blijken nu de problemen te zitten. De uitvoering van het milieubeleid hapert nog al eens, zoals blijkt uit de informatie van de Europese Commissie. Het huidige milieu-inspectiebeleid is vervat in de aanbeveling die in diverse lidstaten nogal verschillend wordt geïnterpreteerd. Ook blijkt uit informatie dat de milieu-inspecties onvolledig worden uitgevoerd. Dit alles leidt ertoe dat ondanks de bestaande milieuwetgeving het milieu er niet altijd baat bij heeft. Als we willen dat het milieu kwalitatief verbetert, moeten we absoluut zorg dragen voor een goede controle op de uitvoering van de wetgeving.
Mijnheer de commissaris, u zei dat u uw geloofsbrieven op milieugebied aanbood. Wat dat betreft moet er nog wel wat gebeuren. Ik was zelf in 2007 en daarvoor rapporteur voor een verordening betreffende de overbrenging van afval. Daaraan is nog heel veel te verbeteren. Wilt u in het kader van een betere implementatie van milieubeleid de bestaande aanbeveling bindend maken?
Bogusław Sonik (PPE-DE). - Pani Przewodnicząca! Podzielam pogląd Komisji Europejskiej, że istnieją duże rozbieżności w sposobie przeprowadzania kontroli w dziedzinie ochrony środowiska w państwach członkowskich, co uniemożliwia zapewnienie spójnego wdrażania i egzekwowania prawa wspólnotowego.
W swojej działalności parlamentarnej miałem możliwość zapoznania się z wynikami kilku projektów prowadzonych w ramach sieci IMPEL, w tym m. in. projektu dotyczącego kontrolowania transgranicznego przemieszczania odpadów przez porty morskie. Przekonałem się, że współpraca służb kontrolnych w ramach sieci IMPEL to nie tylko wymiana doświadczeń, ale także, a może i przede wszystkim, wspólne działania kontrolne i wymiana informacji na temat przestępstw i wykroczeń przeciwko środowisku.
Niektórzy nieuczciwi przedsiębiorcy świadomie przenoszą działalność prowadzoną niezgodnie z przepisami do krajów, o których wiedzą, że system kontroli jest w nich słabszy i mogą prowadzić tam swoją działalność bezkarnie. Gdyby systemy kontroli we wszystkich państwach członkowskich były jednolite, takie praktyki nie miałyby miejsca. Jest to jeszcze jeden argument przemawiający za tym, aby w Unii Europejskiej funkcjonował sprawny i jednolity system kontroli zgodności instalacji z wymogami ochrony środowiska.
W procesie wdrażania i egzekwowania prawa unijnego kontrole są bardzo ważnym instrumentem, jednak państwa członkowskie nadają kontrolom różny priorytet polityczny. Dlatego w pełni popieram wniosek Komisji Europejskiej dotyczący zmiany dotychczasowych zaleceń tak, aby poprawić ich skuteczność. Zgadzam się z propozycją zawarcia w przepisach sektorowych prawnie wiążących wymagań w zakresie kontroli poszczególnych instalacji i rodzajów działalności. Wtedy będzie można nadać kontrolom większy priorytet polityczny oraz lepiej egzekwować prawo w zakresie ochrony środowiska w całej Wspólnocie.
Daciana Octavia Sârbu (PSE). - Inspecţiile reprezintă un element important pentru garantarea aplicării şi respectării legislaţiei comunitare în materie de mediu. În acest sens, recomandarea Comisiei de stabilire a unor criterii minime pentru inspecţiile de mediu în statele membre a reprezentat un important pas înainte la momentul adoptării ei în 2001.
Cu toate acestea, evaluarea aplicării acestei recomandări a scos în evidenţă mai multe elemente de îngrijorare. Comunicarea Comisiei consemnează astfel faptul că există încă diferenţe considerabile în modul în care sunt realizate inspecţiile de mediu la nivel local, regional şi naţional. În plus, s-a constatat că măsurile naţionale adoptate în litera acesteia diferă foarte mult, atât în termenii de aplicare, cât şi de control. Neajunsurile acestei recomandări nu par a fi remediate într-un mod satisfăcător în comunicarea Comisiei. Chiar dacă aceasta îşi propune să vină în întâmpinarea problemelor mai sus menţionate, eludează un element esenţial, care a cauzat modestul succes al recomandării, şi anume însăşi natura juridică a acestui act.
Consider, astfel, că doar o revizuire a recomandării nu va face decât să menţină actuala situaţie de incertitudine. Doar o directivă poate să aducă o îmbunătăţire substanţială şi eficientă pentru inspecţiile de mediu.
Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. − Madam President, I wish to thank the honourable Members for their remarks and observations concerning environmental issues, which are so sensitive, as we are all in favour of improving the environment. Two remarks concerning them raised observations.
The Commission shares the view that legally binding requirements for environmental inspections are really needed and are valuable. The Commission is working in that direction. The question is where to have those binding requirements as regards the transformation of IMPEL into a European inspection force. The Commission still takes the view that it is better to preserve IMPEL as it is.
Presidente. − Comunico di aver ricevuto una proposta di risoluzione(1)conformemente all'articolo 108, paragrafo 5, del regolamento.
La discussione è chiusa.
La votazione si svolgerà oggi alle 12.00.
(La seduta, sospesa alle 11.55 in attesa del turno di votazioni, è ripresa alle 12.05)