18 Dec

The Environment Council’s meeting took place on 17 December, 2020 in Brussels, where discussions focused on climate policy and strategic steps on sustainable chemicals policy.

Based on the decision taken by the heads of state and government last week, environment ministers approved a legislation, the so-called climate law that sets rules for the European Union to achieve the collective union goal, 55% emission reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050 (so reaching net-zero greenhouse gases emissions reduction). Agreement between Council and European Parliament on the final text of the climate law can be expected during the incoming Portuguese presidency.

Environment ministers approved also a document, in which the European Union will notify - in accordance with international climate policy rules - the UN about its higher 2030 emission reduction target. The German presidency will submit this document (so-called Nationally Determined Contribution) to the UN secretariat before the end of this year.

The Environment Council approved the amendment of the Aarhus regulation on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters to Community institutions, in order to ensure full compliance with the requirements of international law, and facilitate access to justice for stakeholders.   

Environment Ministers discussed the new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability published by the European Commission in October 2020. The goal of the Strategy is to protect environment and human health, for which the Commission envisaged several actions. Member States find these actions and political direction of the Strategy appropriate for achieving the goal of the Strategy. Ministers supported phasing out harmful substances from consumer products, emphasizing at the same time that in order to meet the goals, we need to support innovation, research and development as well as industry, particularly SMEs.

The decision of the ministers on circular economy provides a future-oriented agenda for achieving a sustainable economic system, and safeguards that the valuable resources will be reserved, and recycled in Europe. The Member States discussed how digitalisation can be beneficial for environment and for fight against climate change.