The fight against climate change is among the top priorities announced in the joint programme of the presidential trio' of the next 18 months (Spain, Belgium and Hungary), but it will be up to Spain to start the evaluation, policies and measures that will result directly from the results of the Copenhagen climate conference (7 to 18 December 2009). Other challenges are also on the horizon, including revision of the EU's objectives in the drive to halt biodiversity loss within the framework of the International Year of Biodiversity (2010) and preparation of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Biosecurity Protocol (11-29 October 2010, Nagoya, Japan).

Follow-up on the decisions of the global climate conference will be at the heart of the Spanish government's action. By programming an informal meeting of energy and environment ministers from 14 to 17 January (in Seville), Madrid is clearly showing its intention not to waste any time. The first obstacle in its path will be discussion by the EU-27 on effort sharing by member states. Central and eastern European countries, led authoritatively by Poland, are expected to put this touchy subject back on the table without delay.

In addition, the issue of "sensitive" industrial sectors, vulnerable to carbon leakage', could be on the agenda following pressure from industrial lobbies and some member states. These sectors are the ones that might decide to transfer their production to third countries in which the demands in terms of greenhouse gas emissions are less rigorous. A list was approved by the Council on 1 December under Directive 2009/29/EC on the European Emissions Trading System. The Commission must carry out an analysis and, if necessary, propose "appropriate measures" (granting free emissions quotas) by 30 June 2010. There is no doubt that the Presidency will be pressured by industrial lobbies and certain member states to speed up the process.

Madrid also plans to make progress on the adoption of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.


2010 is the international year of biodiversity and yet it is now clear that the EU will have failed to achieve its goal of halting...

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