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Key issues at stake at COP1 on the Minamata Convention, Geneva, 24–29 September 2017

14-09-2017

• The Minamata Convention has been welcomed as a major step in the fight against mercury related health hazards. During COP1, Parties will discuss several topics of the agreement, debate amendments and adopt Articles or guidance. The public and private sector are encouraging Parties to take concrete actions during COP1. • The issue of effectiveness evaluation must be monitored closely as it will set the foundation for the future. Defining common methods and monitoring tools will be essential when ...

• The Minamata Convention has been welcomed as a major step in the fight against mercury related health hazards. During COP1, Parties will discuss several topics of the agreement, debate amendments and adopt Articles or guidance. The public and private sector are encouraging Parties to take concrete actions during COP1. • The issue of effectiveness evaluation must be monitored closely as it will set the foundation for the future. Defining common methods and monitoring tools will be essential when it comes to assessing the concrete impact of the Convention. • Guidance on mercury supply sources and trade will be adopted with the aim of phasing out the use of mercury products. Most of the world resources are localised in a few countries, therefore finding alternatives for these Parties will be of high importance. • Artisanal and small scale gold mining is often an illegal activity, which is hard to monitor and impacts the local environment. The guidance to be adopted will have to consider the reality of the communities concerned and associated ethical issues. • In regard to mercury emissions and releases, best practices and guidelines have been developed for countries to better develop inventories and set National Action Plans. A special focus is provided on open burning practices, which are currently poorly characterised despite their negative environmental impact. • One of the key challenges of the COP1 will be to agree on harmonised thresholds for the definition of contaminated sites and mercury waste, which should be based on experience sharing.

Ārējais autors

Marion Planchon

Mercury: Aligning EU legislation with Minamata

24-05-2017

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. EU policy banned exports of mercury, provided for the storage of mercury waste, restricted the use of mercury in various products and sought to address pollution ...

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. EU policy banned exports of mercury, provided for the storage of mercury waste, restricted the use of mercury in various products and sought to address pollution caused by it. However, there were some regulatory gaps between EU legislation and the Minamata Convention. In February 2016, the European Commission submitted a legislative proposal aiming to align this legislation with the Convention in view of its ratification. After completion of the legislative procedure at first reading in the European Parliament and the Council, the presidents of the co-legislators signed the final act on 17 May 2017. The regulation will apply from 1 January 2018.

Mercury: Aligning EU legislation with Minamata

10-03-2017

Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, or water, or the soil, remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. In February 2016, the Commission put forward a legislative proposal intended to align European Union (EU) legislation with the United Nation's Minamata Convention on mercury signed in 2013. First-reading negotiations with the Council delivered a compromise, which now awaits a vote in the March II plenary.

Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, or water, or the soil, remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. In February 2016, the Commission put forward a legislative proposal intended to align European Union (EU) legislation with the United Nation's Minamata Convention on mercury signed in 2013. First-reading negotiations with the Council delivered a compromise, which now awaits a vote in the March II plenary.

Fighting trade in tools for torture and executions

13-02-2017

The EU is committed to fighting torture and use of the death penalty throughout the world. Both phenomena continue to afflict a significant number of countries, and trade in torture tools is booming. One of the most important measures taken by the EU has been its 2005 Regulation imposing restrictions in trade in torture tools. Despite some visible effects, it has been repeatedly criticised for loopholes which allow trade in goods that could be used for torture, executions and other ill-treatment, ...

The EU is committed to fighting torture and use of the death penalty throughout the world. Both phenomena continue to afflict a significant number of countries, and trade in torture tools is booming. One of the most important measures taken by the EU has been its 2005 Regulation imposing restrictions in trade in torture tools. Despite some visible effects, it has been repeatedly criticised for loopholes which allow trade in goods that could be used for torture, executions and other ill-treatment, as well as related activities like brokering or advertising such goods to continue. Responding to a 2010 European Parliament resolution, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to amend the Regulation in 2014. The proposal was criticised by civil society organisations fighting torture since it did not address all potential loopholes. The EP's International Trade Committee proposed several amendments aiming to further restrict the trade in torture tools and the provision of related services. The final compromise text, agreed after three trilogue meetings, reflected most of INTA’s proposals, albeit with certain modifications. It was adopted by the EP and the Council as such, entering into force in December 2016. This updates a previous edition, of September 2016: PE 586.659.

Mercury: Aligning EU legislation with Minamata

25-10-2016

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. Once emitted into the air or water, mercury can travel over long distances, which makes it a global problem. Current EU policy bans exports of mercury, provides ...

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. Once emitted into the air or water, mercury can travel over long distances, which makes it a global problem. Current EU policy bans exports of mercury, provides for the storage of mercury waste, restricts the use of mercury in various products and seeks to address pollution caused by it. However, there are some regulatory gaps between EU legislation and the Minamata Convention. The European Commission has recently submitted a legislative proposal aiming to align this legislation with the Convention in view of its ratification. The European Parliament's Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 13 October 2016. Interinstitutional negotiations are expected to start in November. A more recent edition of this document is available. Find it by searching by the document title at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

The Conflict in Yemen: Latest Developments

24-10-2016

The Yemen conflict has deteriorated since 2015 despite repeated rounds of peace negotiations. The most recent round of UN-led Talks ended in August 2016 with no agreement. The conflict is in danger of escalating beyond Yemen’s borders with frequent Houthi incursions into Saudi Arabia, foreign ships being targeted by missiles from Houthi-controlled areas near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait – a major international trade route – and Saudi Arabia and Iran siding with opposite sides in the conflict. The latest ...

The Yemen conflict has deteriorated since 2015 despite repeated rounds of peace negotiations. The most recent round of UN-led Talks ended in August 2016 with no agreement. The conflict is in danger of escalating beyond Yemen’s borders with frequent Houthi incursions into Saudi Arabia, foreign ships being targeted by missiles from Houthi-controlled areas near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait – a major international trade route – and Saudi Arabia and Iran siding with opposite sides in the conflict. The latest 72-hour cease-fire starting 20 October was not renewed when it ended on 22 October. The cease-fire did, however, allow humanitarian aid agencies to step in to start to provide assistance to some of the 21.2 million people across the country who are in need of humanitarian aid. UN OCHA has estimated it needs USD 1.63 billion for its Yemen humanitarian response plan, but it has only received pledges for 47 % of that amount so far. The EU has recently announced a further EUR 40 million for the fund, taking the total EU pledge to EUR 120 million. The European Parliament has called for an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, which is responsible for the majority of the destruction of civilian infrastructure.

Mercury: Aligning EU legislation with Minamata

07-07-2016

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. Once emitted into the air or water, mercury can travel over long distances, which makes it a global problem. Current EU policy bans exports of mercury, provides ...

The United Nations' Minamata Convention on mercury was agreed in 2013 with a view to protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Although mercury use has declined significantly in recent decades, mercury released into the air, water and land remains a serious threat to human health and the environment. Once emitted into the air or water, mercury can travel over long distances, which makes it a global problem. Current EU policy bans exports of mercury, provides for the storage of mercury waste, restricts the use of mercury in various products and seeks to address pollution caused by it. However, there are some regulatory gaps between EU legislation and the Minamata Convention. The European Commission has recently submitted a legislative proposal aiming to align this legislation with the Convention in view of its ratification. The rapporteur for the European Parliament's Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has presented his draft report on the proposal. The deadline for submission of amendments is 13 July 2016. A more recent edition of this document is available. Find it by searching by the document title at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

Export Taxes and Other Restrictions on Raw Materials and their Limitation through Free Trade Agreements: Impact on Developing Countries

28-04-2016

Export taxes and restrictions take various forms and their effects may not be limited to the countries that apply them. Developing countries use such export taxes and restrictions in pursuit of development policy objectives. The effects on third countries depend on the market power of the country applying them and the nature of the restriction or tax. Large developing and emerging economies are the main users of these types of instruments, which are often used to counter the distortions due to tariff ...

Export taxes and restrictions take various forms and their effects may not be limited to the countries that apply them. Developing countries use such export taxes and restrictions in pursuit of development policy objectives. The effects on third countries depend on the market power of the country applying them and the nature of the restriction or tax. Large developing and emerging economies are the main users of these types of instruments, which are often used to counter the distortions due to tariff escalation. Multilateral trade rules do not forbid the use of export taxes, but they do apply to export restrictions. The treatment of these instruments in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) negotiated by the EU varies, even between the different Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The EU should be flexible when it comes to the treatment of these instruments in trade agreements involving LDCs and small developing countries. In some cases, the EU should consider renegotiating existing agreements to remove strict prohibitions that can hamper development.

The Russian ban on agricultural products

21-04-2016

In response to the EU's economic sanctions against Russia in the context of the situation in Ukraine, a Russian ban on certain EU agri-food products has been in place since August 2014. The agricultural sectors most affected by the ban include dairy, fruit and vegetables and meat, reflecting products of which the EU has been an important supplier. Since the ban, the EU has lost more than €5 billion per year of agri-food exports to Russia. This loss has been partially offset by the 6% increase in ...

In response to the EU's economic sanctions against Russia in the context of the situation in Ukraine, a Russian ban on certain EU agri-food products has been in place since August 2014. The agricultural sectors most affected by the ban include dairy, fruit and vegetables and meat, reflecting products of which the EU has been an important supplier. Since the ban, the EU has lost more than €5 billion per year of agri-food exports to Russia. This loss has been partially offset by the 6% increase in the overall value of EU agri-food exports in 2015 in comparison to 2014, with major gains in export values in the USA, China and other key markets. The effects of the ban are not distributed evenly across EU Member States, impacting more on those whose agri-food sector had been more closely connected with the Russian market. In response to the ban, a set of actions have been pursued at EU level, ranging from specific market-support measures, including private storage aid, to actions aimed at promoting EU products either within or outside the EU. The European Commission has also intensified bilateral and regional trade negotiations to create new market opportunities. This includes actions to reduce market barriers in respect of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. Member States will decide later this year whether sanctions on Russia are to be renewed.

Regulation on Mercury Aligning EU legislation with the Minamata Convention: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment

14-04-2016

This note provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal which was adopted on 2 February 2016 and has been referred to Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. The IA clearly identifies and defines the problems, demonstrating that EU action is necessary to address them, within the existing regulatory framework. The analysis emphasises that in this case EU action is further ...

This note provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal which was adopted on 2 February 2016 and has been referred to Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. The IA clearly identifies and defines the problems, demonstrating that EU action is necessary to address them, within the existing regulatory framework. The analysis emphasises that in this case EU action is further justified by the external competence of the EU and its legal right to act in the context of an international agreement. The analysis of options mainly focuses on the alternatives within the 'ratification' scenario, whereas less prominence is given to the assessment of impacts under the hypothesis of 'non EU action', which is an option clearly ruled out from the outset. Stakeholders have been consulted on two main occasions (workshop and public consultation) and the IA reports extensively on the results of that consultation process. However, most of the preferred options identified in the IA – and which feature in the Commission's legislative proposal - differ from the opinion expressed by the relative majority of stakeholders who responded to the questionnaire used for the public consultation.

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