European regions and cities ask the Commission not to shelve the package on waste
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has asked the European Commission not to revoke the modifications proposed by EU legislation in relation to waste. The organisation, i.e. the Assembly of local and regional bodies, maintains it is better to take existing proposals as the starting point, rather than start from scratch. It therefore invites the Commission to use the information provided in the plenary, put together by local and regional leaders last 12th February, as the basis for an ambitious regulatory intervention on waste that will pave the way towards a sustainable circular economy in Europe. The EU package on waste was proposed last year by the previous European Commission with the aim of modifying existing legislation, increasing recycling levels and imposing stricter rules in relation to landfills. The new Commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, is assessing the possibility of withdrawing the package in favour of presenting a “more ambitious” project over the next year. Mariana Gâju (RO/PSE), mayor of Cumpăna and supporter of the Committee’s proposal, reminds us that the new regulations proposed by the Commission last year could make net savings of 600 billion euros, create two million new jobs and boost GDP by 1%. Gâju stressed that European cities and regions are well aware of the advantages relating to recycling and waste management and asked the European Commission not to lose more time by withdrawing the initial project. “The proposals are far from perfect and that’s why we raised a number of questions where there is room for improvement. The EU, however, is based on compromises, and the initial package is just that: how can we expect, in just a few months, to reach a new agreement that is accepted by everybody? Starting from scratch means throwing the progress we have made in the bin. We all agree that a “circular economy” will benefit the economy, the environment and citizens, so let’s build on what we’ve already got,” said Gâju. While presenting the Commission’s work programme at the CoR plenary session in Brussels, first Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans confirmed that the “circular economy” package was subject to revision. In response to questions by the CoR, he said that the proposals needed to be improved to emphasise the concept of sustainable economic production and make them more realistic: “Sometimes, when it comes to proposing legislation in sectors we deem to be extremely important, we choose unrealistic tools which, in all honesty, we know we will be unable to implement,” he declared. The original EU package on the circular economy contains a series of measures, including ensuring 70% of urban waste is recycled before 2030, the obligatory objective of recycling 80% of packaging before 2030 and the prohibition of disposing recyclable waste in landfills before 2025. The Committee has set its own targets which, the speaker declared, should now form the basis of the legislation, if the Commission chooses to publish a new package: prohibition of disposing recyclable and biodegradable waste in landfill before the 1st January 2025 and the obligation to meet the maximum limit of 5% for the disposal of residual waste in landfill by 2030; the adoption of one definition of urban waste and one method for calculating recycling targets in the EU; giving companies more environmental responsibility by introducing recommendations aimed at guaranteeing commercialised products come from recycled sources; introducing a new recycling target for organic waste in the revised framework directive; the insertion, in the midterm review of the EU strategy for growth – Europe 2020 – a new target that increases resource productivity by at least 30% before 20130.