Minister Vizjak at the last Environment Council meeting of the Slovenian Presidency
The Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Andrej Vizjak attended the last meeting of the Environment Council to be held during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The Slovenian Presidency presented a report on the progress made in negotiations on the proposal for a regulation concerning batteries and waste batteries, which is an integral part of the European Green Deal. The proposals contained in the “Fit for 55” package were the main priority of the Slovenian Presidency, which strived for the greatest possible progress and a coherent approach to dealing with dossiers that are highly horizontal in nature.
The ministers also exchanged views on the new EU Soil Strategy, in particular in focusing on the adequacy of the measures envisaged and the legislative regulation of this area at EU level.
Under the Slovenian Presidency, the ministers also held the first formal debate on the "Fit for 55" legislative package aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. However, due to the large number and scope of proposals, their interrelatedness and their political importance, work on most dossiers is still at an early stage. There is a clear understanding among Member States that joint proposals should reach the agreed level of climate ambition set out in the European Climate Act. Minister Vizjak also emphasised: “During its term of office, the Slovenian Presidency sought to ensure the greatest possible progress in dealing with individual dossiers within the package. The Presidency held debates proposed by the Commission on legislative acts that come under the remit of the Environment Council and also addressed the initial major problems and issues identified by the member states. The upcoming French Presidency will thus be able to start a more detailed debate on individual legislative acts and start looking for individual compromise solutions.”
Despite intensive discussions, some issues outlined in the progress report on the negotiations on the proposal for a regulation on batteries and waste batteries, in particular the scope of regulation (inclusion of a separate category of batteries for light transport vehicles), the degree of flexibility in waste battery management and change the purpose of batteries, methods and content of information, and especially deadlines for the implementation of individual requirements or appropriate transitional periods for the adjustment of economic operators, have remained outstanding. Many Member States maintain reservations relating to oversight due to the complexity of the requirements. Minister Vizjak emphasized that "the Slovenian Presidency has dedicated 13 informal videoconferences to the Working Group on the Environment and prepared a draft compromise text based on the comments of delegations and technical explanations from the Commission" and explained that “the progress report clearly identifies the main issues over which delegations expressed concern.”
The ministers also exchanged views on the new EU Soil Strategy, in particular in the light of the adequacy of the measures envisaged and the legislative regulation of this area at EU level. According to the strategy, approximately 70 % of the soil is in poor condition and the strategy's vision is to provide healthy soil before 2050. To this end, it sets a series of medium-term goals by 2030 and long-term goals by 2050, most of which are based on existing initiatives and legislation and are set horizontally and cover a number of areas. The Slovenian Presidency considers that an integrated and highly balanced framework will need to be provided, steering the content in the right direction, stressing that national specificities must be taken into account in its preparation.
The Slovenian Presidency will also report on some major international meetings and sessions, including the meeting of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP26) in Glasgow in November and the Barcelona Convention on the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea and its Protocols.
At the end of the meeting, Minister Vizjak thanked the Trio of Presidencies and expressed his support for the efforts being made with regard to making progress on outstanding dossier issues equally during the French Presidency.