The Danish Presidency gives the 27 member states six months to agree a "general approach." In other words, they have to adopt guidelines for the European Commission's drafting of the seventh environment action programme (EAP) by June 2012 and in so doing define the EU's environment policy for the next decade. The member states and the European Parliament insist on doing so. Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, who was reluctant about this idea at the start of his mandate, has gradually warmed to it. He did not really have much choice, particularly since the 6th EAP expires at the end of 2012. Copenhagen thus logically placed this issue at the top of its priorities, along with the debate on the future allocation for LIFE, adoption of the Union's common position for the RIO +20 global conference on sustainable development (June 2012) and follow-up to the Durban climate conference.


The Danish EU Presidency believes in green growth and will make sure its action fits into this general framework, in particular by giving top priority to the Council's adoption in June 2012 of guidelines (in the form of conclusions) spelling out clearly to the Commission what the 27 want to see included in the 7th EAP. The new programme should be a handbook for EU environment policy in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. Green growth will in fact most likely be one of the key subjects addressed at the informal meeting of environment ministers in Horsens (Jutland) on 18-19 April, followed the next day by an informal meeting of energy ministers.

In parallel, Copenhagen will launch debate in January on the proposal for financing of the new LIFE programme for 2014-2020, presented by the Commission on 12 December. The aim is for the ministers to hold their first airing of views at the March Council and to adopt a general approach at their June session. But this issue is directly tied to upcoming decisions on the multiannual financial framework. The Danish Presidency therefore plans to limit this general approach to the environment policy aspects alone, without discussing figures in this Council configuration.


Copenhagen may have to negotiate a sensitive matter straight away, namely the draft regulation on waste electric and electronic equipment. The Danes are giving themselves one last chance to work out an agreement with the European Parliament by organising a trilogue on 20 December. If it ends in failure, Parliament will vote at...

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