Most of the main groupings of MEPs in the European Parliament want to see the Circular Economy Package reinstated, including Nigel Farage’s EFDD.
Ahead of a vote in the European Parliament, the MEP groups have published resolutions on the Commission Work Programme 2015 put forward by the European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker.
MEPs aimed to agree a final motion that will be voted on by the European Parliament to give its view of the Work Programme. However, it no looks likely that the various groups of MEPs will not be able to agree on this after the centre-right PPE and conservative ECR groups declined to participate in a joint resolution that, among other measures, would have called for the Circular Economy Package to be reinstated. This was despite the ECR group suggesting the withdrawal of the Package should be “reconsidered” (see below for more).
With separate motions now being voted on from each group, it now looks unlikely that any resolution will pass.
Liberal Democrat MEP and lead negotiator for the Liberal Group in the European Parliament on air quality and the Circular Economy Package Catherine Bearder said: “Conservative MEPs have utterly failed to stand up for measures to improve air quality and recycling.
“Unfortunately, what could have been a strong, united position from the European Parliament has now descended into political farce. We must not give up the fight for cleaner air and a stronger, greener economy.”
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Most of the groups in their individual resolutions, including UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s (pictured) Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, have called for the reinstatement of the Circular Economy Package that was withdrawn by the Commission in December with the promise of introducing a more ambitious package.
The EFDD group urged the Commission to “maintain all the specific proposals in the Circular Economy Package, especially that on waste, as adopted by the Commission on 2 July 2014, and all the proposals contained in the Clean Air Package as adopted on 18 December 2013, given their high potential for job creation, improvements to resource security, environmental protection and greater regulatory certainty”.
However, crucially, the largest group – the European People’s Party (PPE) – that has 221 of the 751 MEPs does not mention the Circular Economy Package in its resolution.
This was the group to which current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker belonged, and which nominated him as its candidate for the role.
In its resolution, the PPE group called for the Commission to “refrain from taking initiatives which are not essential” and that it “supports the change of method aimed at clearing the decks to avoid wasting resources on obsolete or inadequate legislative proposals which can no longer meet the priorities and concerns of EU citizens”.
But it did call for existing legislation on environmental law to be “swiftly implemented”.
The second largest group, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, which has 191 MEPs and includes the Labour Party among its members, said in its resolution that it “strongly opposes the Commission’s announced intention to withdraw a number of legislative proposals, in particular the air quality legislation and the waste package, on which the co-legislators have only recently started work”.
It added that it wished to underline “the enormous potential of the waste package and the air quality directive to have far-reaching and long-term positive effects on sustainable development and job creation, as well as major health and environmental benefits… [and reminds] the Commission that the circular economy proposals should stay high on the agenda and be further implemented, inter alia by setting binding targets for resource efficiency and introducing indicators in respect of carbon footprints and land, water and material use”.
Interestingly, the European Conservatives and Reformists, which has 70 MEPs and includes the Conservative Party as its largest member, also suggested that the Commission should “reconsider the withdrawal” of the Circular Economy Package.
In its resolution it said that it “believes that investing in a circular economy can be fully compatible with the Commission’s jobs, growth and competitiveness agenda and has the potential to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved [and] therefore urges the Commission to work with the Member States on reaching these goals and if necessary, reconsider the withdrawal…and requests that the Commission elucidate the timescale and process regarding the withdrawal and adoption of a new modified legislative proposal on the circular economy”.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, which has 67 MEPs including the single Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder quoted above, reiterated that “the 7th Environmental Action Programme is a legally binding act, which obliges the Commission to take appropriate action to deliver its agreed priority objectives, namely protecting and enhancing Europe’s natural capital, turning the Union into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy, and safeguarding citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and well being [and] expects the Commission to fully reflect these objectives in its priorities and not to delay any action necessary to achieve them”.
The European United Left – Nordic Green Left group (52 MEPs) and The Greens-European Free Alliance (50 MEPs) both also condemned the decision to withdraw the Circular Economy Package.
MEPs will vote on the resolutions on 15 January.