Outlines of the Czech EU Presidency
From 1 July, the Czech delegation will take over the Presidency of the EU Council until 31 December. This presidency follows the French one and precedes the Swedish one. On 15 June, the Czech Presidency presented its programme and key objectives for the next six months:
The Czech Presidency also laid out its environmental agenda as follows:
REACH and CLP update
The European Commission’s published Restrictions Roadmap in April, presenting a prioritised list of harmful chemicals to be restricted as a group across broad uses. The roadmap will lead to 5,000 to 7,000 chemicals being banned by 2030, according to the NGO European Environmental Bureau (EEB).
The European Commission carried on its targeted impact assessment studies on the various new concept (essential uses, safe and sustainable by design, generic risk assessment…), throughstakeholders’ workshops and targeted consultations. Study reports are highly expected before the summer.
The European Commission intends to maintain the high ambition on this file and is committed to delivering on the REACH and CLP revision under its current term – REACH revision proposal by the end of the year and CLP revision proposal on 13 July.
New hazard classes are expected to be updated via delegated act. This type of procedure means that the Council of the EU and the European Parliament won’t be able to amend the content of the delegated act but only approve or reject the text as a whole. On that note, the European Parliament held in May an exchange of views with the Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) regarding restrictions of perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFASs) and more generally on the preparation of the upcoming proposals to amend the REACH and CLP regulations in the context of the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.
Since the beginning of the year, the chemical sector is developing a Transition Pathway together with the European Commission to enable the sector to adapt to the transition and continue to evolve. Major progress have been made recently and a final draft is foreseen by September.
European Parliament and Council of the EU adopt the ban on combustion engine cars and vans from 2035
On 8 June, MEPs in the European Parliament adopted the report by Jan Huitema (Renew Europe, The Netherlands) on tightening CO2 emissions performance standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.
This means that no more new petrol and diesel vehicles will be offered for sale in Europe from 2035. The MEPs also raised the 2030 target from 37.5 percent to 55 percent of emissions cut. The new alternative fuels crediting system, which was pushed by the MEP leading the file Jens Gieseke (EPP, Germany) and which would have allowed the sell of combustion-engine cars after 2035, has been rejected in the votes.
The decision has been criticized by several stakeholders including car manufacturers such as BMW or the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA). However, some car manufacturers said they were supporting the decision taken by the Parliament. For instance, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz expressed their support for the decision.
On 28 June, Ministers met to decide whether to side with the Commission and Parliament in banning combustion engines from 2035. Agreeing on a position wasn’t simple as Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner broke ranks with his Green coalition partners and suggested he would try to reverse his country’s position. EU Member States announced their agreement on banning the sale of combustion engine cars on 29 June.
With both the Council of the EU and the European Parliament agreeing on this ban, petrol and diesel cars as well as light commercial vehicles will have to shift to electric in the EU from 2035. Environment ministers however agreed for a five-year extension of the exemption from the ban for “niche” manufacturers meaning those who are producing fewer than 10,000 vehicles per year, until the end of 2035.