The Swedish Presidency of the European Council, which begins on 1 July, has promised to begin negotiations with the European Parliament on a package of draft energy efficiency laws covering buildings, energy labelling and tyre labelling. Talks are due to begin in September. Sweden is intent on achieving a first-reading agreement on these laws by the end of 2009.
Council Conclusions on the Commission’s White Paper: Towards a European Climate Change Adaptation Programme have been published. These conclusions were adopted without further discussions on 25 June. The White Paper outlines actions needed to strengthen the EU’s position on climate change ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (see April Eurobrief). The conclusions emphasise the need for all Member States and sectors to adapt to climate change.
A progress report on the energy efficiency package has been published by the Council. The report covers proposals on energy labelling, tyre labelling and the energy efficiency of buildings. The draft framework Directive on energy labelling was generally well-received according to the report, with the extension of the scope from certain types of household appliances to energy-related products welcomed. Some delegations, however, expressed doubt on the inclusion of construction products.
EU Environment Ministers narrowly reached a political agreement on the recast of the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, now renamed Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), earlier this month, during the last Environment Council of the Czech Presidency. Issues of relevance for the cement industry are contained in Annex VI, Part 4, entitled Technical provisions relating to waste incineration plants and waste co-incineration plants. The Council has agreed on the provisions that CEMBUREAU has been advocating for, i.e.
The price of carbon in the EU is likely to increase from around €15 per tonne to €40 by 2016, according to market analyst Point Carbon’s latest carbon market brief. Such an increase is vital in order to meet the EU’s current emission reduction targets of 20% below 1990 levels and any possible increased reduction targets that may be discussed at the UN’s Copenhagen summit this December. By creating a surplus of allowances however, the current economic crisis could make it politically easier for the EU to commit to a 30% cut in Copenhagen.
The Commission has announced that an expected proposal on the distribution of allowances to be auctioned under the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETSi) will result in €300 million of carbon allowances being distributed. The selection and award criteria for these allowances will likely be finalised by the end of 2009, while the selection of projects will take place in 2011. Proposals for projects for carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be submitted to the Commission by the 15 of July.
The Directive amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the EU greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system (EU ETSi) and the Directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide (CCS) have been published in the EU’s Official Journal (OJ) this month along with the rest of the climate change package. The EU ETS Directive revises the emissions trading system as from 2013 (see April Eurobrief). The Directive entered into force on the 25 June. The geological storage of carbon dioxide Directive provides a legal framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS).
A Commission Decision amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACHi) as regards Annex XVII, is expected to be published in July 2009. This Decision would review Annex XVII, which lays down restrictions on the manufacture, placing on the market and use of certain dangerous substances, preparations and articles. The provisions of the restriction on Cr (VI) for cement remain unchanged, though the wording has been adapted to the GHSi. This means that the word Preparation has been changed to Mixture.
The Council will adopt the Proposal for a Directive establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy related products in July or September 2009.
Earlier this year, a number of informal contacts took place between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission with a view to reaching an agreement on this dossier at first reading, thereby avoiding the need for a second reading and conciliation.
EUPAVE, the European Concrete Paving Association, plans to hold a Technical Seminar entitled Concrete Safety Barriers – New Insights and Developments on Safety and Environment in Brussels on 9 June. Guest speakers include Dr. Bryan Magee from the Concrete Centre and Richard Sturt from Ove Arup & Partners. Keynote presentations will focus on sustainability issues and on new findings regarding the relationship between acceleration severity index (ASI) and injury of vehicle occupants.
For the first time since the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty on 1 May 1999, no agreement could be reached at the conciliation stage of a piece of legislation. Parliament and Council failed to find a compromise on three points of the Working Time Directive: the opt-out, on-call time and multiple contracts.
A joint REACHi enforcement project, entitled REACH-ENFORCE-1, has been launched. National inspectors will be involved in checking pre-registrations and registrations for substances and SDSi. The project will help to give a first impression of the level of compliance by manufacturers and importers with REACH obligations. The results of the project will be collected by the end of 2009 and the Forum Working Group will analyse the results and produce a report in early 2010. The Forum is also preparing a second coordinated project to be launched in 2010.
Funding levels for the European Chemical Agency (ECHAi) need to be urgently reviewed, says the Chemical Business Association (CBA). It claims that ECHA will be massively over-funded because the Helsinki-based agency underestimated the number of REACHi pre-registrations it would receive. Instead of the predicted 150,000 pre-registrations, ECHA has received 2.7 million.
The European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) also said that the general feedback it has received from companies involved in REACH is that fees are a significant problem.
On 3 April, CEMBUREAU participated in DG Environment’s first stakeholder consultation on a study carried out by ENTEC on the implementation of an EU-wide NOxi-SO2 trading scheme. Many questions were raised by industry, Member States and NGOs during the exchange of views. For CEMBUREAU, the proposed introduction of a trading scheme is unnecessary and duplicative given the current regulatory framework. It will not improve the environmental performance of installations but will entail a financial burden and commercial disadvantage for EU industry.
The cement sector is concerned that the alternative list of substances of very high concern, released by the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC) in March 2009, will cause confusion and hinder the effective assessment of substances. Together with associations representing the glass, industrial minerals and non-ferrous metals trades, CEMBUREAU has warned that the ETUC’s alternative to the European Chemical Agency (ECHAi)’s official list risks muddying the waters. The ETUC list is based on a different set of criteria, and challenges the integrity of the REACHi process.
The European Commission has been given the green light to update how chemicals are tested to ensure they comply with REACHi regulations. The Commission’s amendments, which have not been opposed by the Council, aim to ensure that testing standards are as up-to-date as possible. The amended rules will introduce several new test methods adopted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Commission has issued a statement on whether carbon dioxide should be a named substance with suitable thresholds in a revision of Council Directive 96/82/EC (Seveso Directive). CO2 is currently not classified as dangerous, and CO2 transport and storage sites are therefore not included in the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances. The case for considering CO2 as a named substance under the Seveso-Directive will, however, be considered in more detail during the development of the proposed revision of the Directive, scheduled for late 2009 / early 2010.
Commission Regulation (EC) No 304/2009 amending Annexes IV and V to Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the treatment of waste containing persistent organic pollutants in thermal and metallurgical production processes was published in the EU’s Official Journal (OJ) in April and entered into force this month.
Draft Council conclusions on an integrated approach to a competitive and sustainable industrial policy were adopted in April. The Draft Resolution calls on the European Commissionto monitor the implementation of the REACHi chemicals policy and assess its impact on businesses, especially on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Council would like the Commission to report on the implementation of REACH by the end of 2010.
A formal exchange of views on the energy efficiency of buildings took place between the EU and China this month. A Chinese delegation met with EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to discuss a possible cooperation agreement on energy efficient buildings. In addition, a joint initiative on building codes, labelling and standards for energy efficient building components was announced at the EU-China summit in Brussels on 20 May, as was an agreement to build a carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plant in China.