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Axing of waste proposals and uncertainty about air a colossal, strategic blunder

Green 10 reaction – Brussels, 16 December 2014

The Green 10 [1] condemn in the strongest possible terms the Commission’s plans to withdraw and retable key proposals on waste management and to create confusion and uncertainty about the fate of the air package.

Commission President Juncker and his First Vice President Frans Timmermans have announced they are dropping revisions to the EU’s waste targets which would have created 180,000 jobs in Europe. The fate of the National Emissions Ceilings Directive has been kicked into the long grass, with no clarity if negotiations will continue before legislative proposals on climate and energy for 2030 are finalised. The current proposal would have prevented 58,000 early deaths per year and led to health benefits of around €40-140 billion [2].
The decision was taken despite 11 EU countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, urging the Commission not to withdraw either proposal [3] and strong support from some industries and businesses for a revision of the EU’s waste targets [4].

Ariel Brunner, Birdlife Europe’s Head of EU Policy and current chair of the Green 10, said: “This exercise undermines the Commission’s credibility. In trying to tame some of its critics, the Commission seems to be faithfully executing the ‘kill list’ developed by powerful industry lobby group, BusinessEurope, and then saying it will retable the air quality and waste proposals at a later stage. For a body that prides itself on delivering ‘better regulation’, this is spectacularly inefficient.”

“These proposals offer better health, fewer sick-days, more jobs and a better environment for Europeans, along with a boost for forward-looking industries.”

Ariel Brunner added: “Carrying through this badly thought-out PR exercise will do nothing to restore the EU’s popularity with citizens – it will achieve the opposite. Derailing and creating uncertainty about the efforts to protect the environment and defend outdated and polluting business models represents a colossal, strategic blunder.”

[1] The Green 10 represents the 10 leading environmental organisations in Europe: its members are the European Environmental Bureau, Transport&Environment, Birdlife, Greenpeace, WWF, CEE Bankwatch Network, Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Health & Environment Alliance, Naturefriends International.
[2] The external health-related costs to society of air pollution are in the range of €330-940 billion per year.
[3] The letter is available here.
[4] See a summary of the support for both packages here.

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