on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Additional Protocol to the Cooperation Agreement for the Protection of the Coasts and Waters of the North-East Atlantic against Pollution
(COM(2009)0436 – C7-0163/2009 – 2009/0120(NLE))
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
on the proposal for a Council decision on concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Additional Protocol to the Cooperation Agreement for the Protection of the Coasts and Waters of the North-East Atlantic against Pollution
– having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2009)0436),
– having regard to Articles 175 (1) and 300 (2) of the EC Treaty,
– having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0163/2009),
– having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council entitled "Consequences of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon for ongoing interinstitutional decision-making procedures" (COM(2009)0665),
– having regard to Articles 196(2) and 218(6)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU,
– having regard to Rules 81 and 90(8) of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0009/2010),
1. Gives its consent to the conclusion of the Additional Protocol;
2. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.
This agreement forms part of a network of regional marine agreements which the EU concluded with some individual Member States and neighbouring third countries. The network consists of the Helsinki Convention, the Bonn Agreement, the Barcelona Convention and, in this case the Lisbon Agreement, each of which cover different parts of the sea around EU countries and aiming at individual or collective intervention of the contracting parties in case of pollution or a threat of pollution of the seas or coasts.
The Lisbon Agreement was signed in October 1990 but never entered into force because of a territorial dispute between Spain and Morocco, two of the Contracting Parties, about the "southern borders" (Western Sahara) referred to in Article 3 (c) of the Agreement. The additional protocol in which the dispute was settled and an appropriate wording for Article 3 (c) was found, was signed as recently as May 2008 by Portugal, Spain, France and Morocco also the European Community signed on the 25 March.
With the conclusion of this Additional Protocol the Lisbon Agreement can enter into force, 20 years after being signed.
The rapporteur is aware that the three maritime packages of EU legislation designed mainly to prevent and when happened, to deal with pollution accidents, in the aftermath of the Erika and Prestige accidents, are setting standards for protecting the EU-waters and coasts. The regional marine conventions, to which also many neighbouring third countries are Contracting Parties, are an instrument to transpose the EU-standards to those third countries.
The rapporteur would like to mention a phenomenon which has not received the political and environmental attention it deserves, since it occurs away from the public eye. Recently however there was given some attention to it, within the Council of Ministers (for Environment) when the Dutch delegation on 21 October 2009 put the problem of the "plastic soup" up for discussion. This refers to the drifting mass of plastic and rubber (34 times the size of the Netherlands: +/-1.350.000 km2) in the Pacific Ocean. But it is also- along with the issue of old, discarded and lost fishing nets - becoming an increasing problem in the Atlantic Ocean.
Do we know what effects this floating plastic mass has on the marine environment (mammals, birds, fishes, seaweed and algae, etc) and their C02 capture capacities? Does the massive pollution of our seas with plastic or rubber debris fall within the scope of the Lisbon Agreement or the other regional marine agreements or should this be dealt with within the OSPAR -Agreement?
If not, can those agreements be adapted so as to include the addressing of this problem?
Additional Protocol to the Cooperation Agreement for the Protection of the Coasts and Waters of the North-East Atlantic against Pollution
Kriton Arsenis, Chris Davies, Esther de Lange, Edite Estrela, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Julie Girling, Françoise Grossetête, Satu Hassi, Karin Kadenbach, Christa Klaß, Corinne Lepage, Linda McAvan, Andres Perello Rodriguez, Mario Pirillo, Pavel Poc, Vittorio Prodi, Anna Rosbach, Oreste Rossi, Glenis Willmott
Substitute(s) present for the final vote
José Manuel Fernandes, Jutta Haug, Michail Tremopoulos, Thomas Ulmer, Marita Ulvskog