Resultaten Fins voorzitterschap op milieugebied (en)

Source: Fins voorzitterschap Europese Unie 2e helft 2006 i, published on Thursday, December 21 2006.

During Finland's EU Presidency, the main objectives in the environmental sector were reached. The priorities in this sector were curbing climate change, conservation of the marine environment, halting biodiversity loss, air pollution control, wastes, sustainable use of natural resources and the mid-term review of the Sixth Environmental Programme of the EU. Except for the waste policy and mid-term review of the Environmental Programme, these objectives were also reached.

"In the last Environment Council meeting held on Monday, Finland received effusive praise from the European Commission and other member states for an efficiently organised Presidency. And even making allowances for politeness, the core message is that we did extremely well in advancing those issues that were within our control during our Presidency", comments Mr Jan-Erik Enestam, Minister of the Environment.

"Unfortunately, we were unable to reach all our goals. As regards these, we have no reason for gloom, as the delays in certain issues from the schedule anticipated in the spring was not up to the Council, but due to delays in the Commission or the European Parliament. Even so, our work will not be wasted, as I am convinced that Germany, our successor, will efficiently continue the Council's work from the good foundation laid down by us", believes Mr Enestam.

Finland emphasised preparation for the future climate change negotiations Curbing climate change was highlighted during the whole Presidency. In the international climate change conferences in Nairobi, the EU achieved under Finnish leadership its objective of advancing the negotiations on developing the climate convention system after 2012 . The Council adopted in December resolutions that specify the EU's targeted schedule and starting points for the international negotiation process and the EU's preparatory work for it.

Finland also worked actively to lay down a foundation for future negotiations by highlighting the issue in summits with third countries and in the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council on environmental co-operation. A Climate Declaration was adopted between Asia and the EU countries, and issues concerning the climate were brought into discussion at the level of heads of state. With the United States, a dialogue on the climate, clean energy and sustainable development was initiated, which is expected to continue as early as during Germany's Presidency.

Strong efforts to promote air pollution control and conservation of the marine environment Of the thematic strategies associated with the EU's Sixth Environmental Programme, in particular the ones concerning waste, conservation of the marine environment, sustainable use of natural resources and air pollution control were central in the agenda of the Finnish Presidency.

A political consensus on an Air Quality Directive reducing air pollutants and fine particles was reached in the Environmental Council of October. In addition, the Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the so-called Euro 5 Regulation imposing stricter emission limit values for cars and light commercial vehicles. Similarly, an agreement on the Marine Strategy Directive to improve the state of the marine environment in Europe was reached in the December Council.

The Council also reached an agreement in the conciliation procedure with the European Parliament on the Ground Water Directive to promote the protection and improve the state of European ground waters. The solution on the INSPIRE Directive regulating the Community's spatial information infrastructure was similarly achieved through the conciliation procedure.

After three years of negotiations, an agreement was reached on the EU Chemicals Regulation towards the end of Finland's Presidency. The European Parliament adopted it on 13 December for its part, and the Council made the final decision in this matter in the December Council of the Environment Ministers. The REACH Regulation will significantly improve the protection of human health and the environment. This regulation will mark an overall reform of the Community's chemicals legislation. It will also institute the EU's Chemicals Agency, which will start operating in Helsinki next spring.

Progress also in the protection of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources Resolutions on halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 were adopted in the Council of December. These will contribute to achieving the targets by the deadline. The resolutions e.g. support the inclusion of biodiversity and ecosystem services in other political sectors and encourage the use of the possibilities offered by the agricultural, rural development, forestry and fisheries policies to protect biodiversity.

Strategic resolutions on the sustainable use of natural resources were adopted in the October Council. Their objective is to encourage the member states to develop national measures and programmes to promote the sustainable use of natural resources. The general target is to reduce negative environmental impacts that are produced when using natural resources.

In the drafting of the resolutions, the conclusions of the unofficial meeting of environmental ministers held in Turku in July were also taken in consideration. At the Turku meeting, the ministers debated the initiative put forward by Finland concerning a new generation environmental policy, which highlights eco-efficiency in solving global environmental problems.

Significant progress was also achieved in central issues of the reform of the waste management legislation. The process will continue in the Council next year, and the European Parliament will also issue its opinion in the spring.

Finland presided over environmental sector meetings with a sure hand In addition to a number of working group meetings of the environmental sector held in Brussels, Finland also chaired many international environmental meetings. These included the conference of the parties to the UN Climate Convention and Basel Convention (international waste shipments) in Nairobi, conference of the parties to the Montreal Protocol in New Delhi (protection of ozone layer in upper atmosphere) and that of Rotterdam Convention (prior informed consent procedures on chemicals) in Geneva.

An unofficial meeting of the environment ministers and some dozen meetings of civil servants were organised in Finland. In their organisation, efforts were made to take environmental issues in consideration in various ways. In addition, in several meetings organised by the Ministry of the Environment, foreign participants were given compensation for the carbon dioxide emissions from air travel as a gift. This meant that the emissions arising from the air travel of the participants were compensated for by donating a corresponding sum through Siemenpuu Foundation for climate protection work in Africa.

Further information: Political Adviser to the Minister Christian Sjöstrand, tel. +358 (0)50 5997 876. Director, EU Co-operation Leena Simonen, tel. + 358 (0)9 1603 9394, +358 (0)50 5967 818. Counsellor Liisi Klobut, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 (0)9 1603 9029, +358 (0)50 3018 212

EU Presidency

Environmental agenda and priorities for Finland's EU Presidency