On Monday 4 March, the EU Environment Ministers will meet to decide on the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and to discuss EU’s sustainable strategies and environmental liability.
The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is the only issue on
which a political agreement is expected during this Council. At the
last Council meeting in December 2001, a unanimous agreement was
reached on a decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by the March
2002 Council. However, two issues must be resolved before a final
agreement can be concluded:
- The legal base must be clarified. Some Member States have
raised the issue of using Article 175(1), but a majority seems to
prefer 175(2). The Commission also claims that 175(2) would be the
legally correct article to use. The main difference between the two
is that 175(2) requires unanimity.
- The “Danish problem” must be solved. It was unanimously decided
not to renegotiate the burden sharing agreement of June 1998.
However, Denmark has a special problem with the base year 1990 for
emission reductions. That year was atypical for Denmark, since it
exported an unusually large amount of hydro-electricity and
produced little coal-fired electricity, and hence had very low
levels of CO2 emissions. A change of the base year is not allowed
under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, so the Council
must find some other way to accommodate Denmark’s problem.
Other important issues to be debated during the
Council meeting are:
- The report on the internal sustainable development strategy is
not taking sufficient account of the environmental dimension and
the Council will urge the Commission to ensure that future reports
put more emphasis on the environment.
- For the external dimension of sustainable development, which
will form the EU’s position for the Johannesburg summit, Member
States should for example be encouraged to reach the official
development aid target of 0,7% of GDP and to form viable
partnerships with civil society;
- The proposed directive for environmental liability will be the
subject of a public debate during the Council. The Presidency has
posed questions regarding the scope of the directive, mandatory
insurances and the access to justice;
- There will be a report on the state of play on the directive on
- Progress reports on Seveso II, packaging waste and the
bio-safety protocol will be given.