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EU update – June 2022


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:

  • Managing the refugee crisis and Ukraine’s post-war recovery: The war in Ukraine appears to be a top priority and the Czech Presidency intends to respond to Russia by using economic instruments as well as by supporting Ukraine politicaly and with military aid.
  • Energy security: The Czech Presidency is determined to end the EU’s dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal and puts the EU’s energy security first before the energy transition. The REPowerEU plan appears as a solution to diversity energy supplies. The Presidency also aims to limit the impact of the rising energy prices and will support the implementation of diversified instruments to fight against it.
  • Strengthening Europe’s defence capabilities and cyberspace security: The Presidency supports the EU’s military strategy for 2030 also named Strategic Compass. It also wants to address cyber-security threats during the mandate.
  • Strategic resilience of the European economy:  For the Czech government, an economic resilience is possible with  targeted support for specific technologies. For instance, in the EU Chips Act, which aims at boosting the production of semiconductors in the EU.
  • Resilience of democratic institutions:  The Czech mandate will also focus on the preservation of fundamental rights and freedom.

The Czech Presidency also laid out its environmental agenda as follows:

  • Fit for 55
  • Raw material supply security
  • Climate adaptation
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Pollution prevention

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.

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