EU strategy on adaptation to climate change
Ministers started their discussions with an exchange of views on the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change. The strategy outlines a long-term vision for the EU to become a climate-resilient society that is fully adapted to the unavoidable impacts of climate change by 2050. Guidance provided by ministers will serve as input for draft Council conclusions.
European Climate Law
The Presidency informed ministers on the state of play of the trilogue negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the proposal for a European Climate Law.
The aim of the European climate law is to set into legislation the objective of a climate neutral EU by 2050. On 17 December, EU environment ministers reached a general approach on the Commission proposal for a European climate law, including a new EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030, following the guidance of the European Council, given on 11 December. The general approach constitutes the Council's negotiation mandate in the trilogue meetings with Parliament.
The Council and the European Parliament have so far held four trilogue meetings in view of reaching a political agreement, and are currently preparing for a fifth one.
Today I had the chance to exchange views with my fellow environment ministers on the state of play of our negotiations with the European Parliament regarding the European Climate Law. We have achieved great progress but many outstanding issues remain and our negotiation strategy is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The European Climate Law is an absolute priority for the Portuguese Presidency and our aim is to reach an agreement with the Parliament as soon as possible. We have no time to waste - the EU is firmly committed to becoming climate neutral by 2050 and the European Climate Law is the first crucial step to help us achieve this objective.
João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Portuguese Minister for the Environment and Climate Action
Greening the European Semester
Ministers held an exchange of views on the role of the Recovery and Resilience Facility in the context of greening the European Semester. The European Semester is an essential instrument for the coordination of economic policies across the EU. The Recovery and Resilience Facility is one of the main tools for European recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and is designed to support the green and digital transition. Ministers discussed how these two instruments can complement each other.
Batteries and waste batteries
Environment ministers held a policy debate on a legislative proposal on batteries and waste batteries. Batteries are a key element of the clean energy transition. The proposal aims to reduce the environmental and social impacts of batteries throughout all stages of the battery life cycle - from sourcing materials to production, use, recycling and disposal. Thereby it aligns the current legislation with the European Green Deal, promotes circular economy and aims to ensure a high level of protection of health and the environment. The proposal also aims to address discrepancies on the internal market due to uneven rules and information, by creating a level playing field for batteries through a common, clearer set of rules. The debates will feed into the preparation of the Council's position on the proposal.
Under any other business, Environment ministers took note of the 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) that will serve as an overarching guide to European environmental policy until 2030. Ambassadors of EU member states approved on 17 March a mandate that will serve as the Council's position to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the 8th EAP.
The Presidency informed ministers on the approval on 12 March of Council conclusions on a Sustainable Chemicals Strategy of the Union: Time to Deliver. In its conclusions, the Council asks the Commission to implement the actions laid down in the strategy, as soon as possible, including targeted amendments to streamline EU chemicals legislation, substituting and minimising substances of concern, and phasing out the most harmful chemicals for non-essential societal uses.
The Commission and the Presidency updated ministers on the fifth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) held in Nairobi on 22 and 23 February 2021.
The Commission informed ministers about the state of play of the EU forest strategy, currently under preparation.
The Commission also informed ministers on its recently adopted Communication on trade policy review, that for the first time puts sustainability at the heart of trade policy.
-18 March 2021