ENVIRONMENT: AMBITIOUS PROGRAMME IF EP AND COMMISSION DELIVER.

Whichever state holds the rotating Council Presidency, it depends to a large extent on the work of the other institutions, both the European Parliament and the Commission with its right of initiative. The environmental agenda put together by the Hungarian EU Presidency seems ambitious, but is based on several Commission proposals announced some time ago that have yet to materialise.

At this stage, only two legislative matters could possibly reach the stage of Council agreements at first reading and the European Parliament's position is pending on both. The first is the amended draft Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which was the subject of a progress report and non-conclusive debate at the last Council under the Belgian Presidency, on 20 December. Parliament will not adopt its final position (co-decision, first reading) until the plenary session in February 2011. Only then will the interinstitutional negotiations begin and the Hungarian Presidency hopes to conclude a deal at first reading.

The second is the draft regulation on non-road machinery/vehicles, which is in the hands of Parliament's rapporteur. If the EP issues its opinion in time, the Presidency hopes to steer it through first-reading adoption. If the assembly does not adopt its position quickly, the text will become pointless since it provides for the prolongation of a number of derogations until 2013. Any delay in the decision making process could mean that it would become applicable on its expiry date.

WHAT IS COMMISSION WAITING FOR?

At least five other issues that the Hungarian Presidency would like to address or even push through first reading are on ice in the absence of proposals and/or communications from the European Commission. At a strictly legislative level, these are the proposals for revision of the SEVESO II Directive (accidents involving hazardous substances) and the draft regulation on prior informed consent (PIC) that transposes into EU law the Rotterdam Convention on the transfer of hazardous products (promised by the Commission for December 2011). Both texts have to be adapted to be brought into conformity with the new regulation on the classification and labelling of hazardous substances.

The Commission's proposal for a biodiversity strategy is also still on the drawing board. It is expected to incorporate the results of the Nagoya biodiversity conference (November 2010) and, although initially announced for presentation before...

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