Select Committee on European Union Forty-Fourth Report

EU waste management policy

65. The European Commission has been seeking to develop a comprehensive and consistent policy on waste prevention and recycling within an overall objective of resource efficiency. Three initiatives form the basis of the Commission's future work in this area:

  • A consultation exercise on strategy for the prevention and recycling of waste
  • A Communication which sets out the Commission's thinking on an integrated product policy approach
  • A consultation exercise on strategy for the sustainable use of natural resources.

66. Sub-Committee D has been conducting an inquiry into the proposals. The aim of the Committee's inquiry has been to review current processes for developing Community legislation in the waste policy field and the impact they have had on the quality of legislation. The report (to be published shortly) considers whether implementation of the Commission's ambitious agenda requires changes to be made to these processes.

67. In the Committee's view, the European Union has in the past tended to base policy on inadequate evidence and data, leaving significant details to be agreed behind closed doors after framework legislation has been adopted. Inconsistencies (e.g. definitions of "waste") and confusing overlaps between Directives need to be reviewed.

68. The Committee considers that placing waste in an overall context of sustainable use of natural resources is a rational approach, but that far better information is needed from which to develop workable, effective and proportionate legislative instruments in future.

69. Once legislation has been implemented, it should be monitored and evaluated in detail to find out whether it is having the desired effect. The Commission should make greater use of the European Environment Agency for collating data and give it powers to enforce its data gathering activities.

70. The UK has a poor record in influencing EU waste policy. It needs to operate at a more strategic level. It should initiate and innovate, not just react passively to legislative proposals from the Commission. This calls for a far greater level of collective working within Government, overseen and co-ordinated by a dedicated unit at the centre with the task of ensuring clear accountability for successes and failures.

71. The report concludes that:

  • significant improvements can be made to the policy-making process at the Community and national level;
  • the Commission should review the operation of the EU legislative process as it applies to waste; and
  • the results of this review must be fed into current consultations on Community strategies for waste management and recycling and sustainable use of natural resources.

Energy, Transport, Industry and Research

"Open Skies" or Open Markets: Aviation Relations

72. The European Court of Justice handed down a series of judgments on 5 November 2002 against 8 EU Member States. These judgments affected the web of bilateral air service agreements (ASAs) between EU Member States and non-EU Member States. The ECJ judgments dealt with the "nationality" clause; and articles relating to computer reservations systems and intra-EU tariffs in "open skies" ASAs signed by some EU Member States with the United States of America.

73. The "nationality" clause was deemed to have infringed Article 43 of the Treaty establishing the European Community and the "open skies" infringements to have offended the principle of exclusive Community competence.

74. The European Community, in a Communication dated 19 November 2002, called on Member States to denounce existing bilateral ASAs with the United States and to agree a mandate for the Commission to negotiate all aspects of ASAs. This position was modified in a second Communication published on 26 February 2003 when the Commission sought to distinguish between the need to address the "infringements" that flowed from the ECJ judgments and the pursuit of a wider mandate aimed at renegotiating full ASAs with the United States on a bloc-to-bloc basis.

75. Sub-Committee B examined these issues, and the US responses, and we made the following recommendations:

76. At the 5/6 June Transport Council in Luxembourg the Council agreed to give the Commission two mandates:

    1) to negotiate an air service agreement with the United States on behalf of the Community;

    2) to negotiate on specific Community issues with other third countries while allowing flexibility for Member States to negotiate and implement air service agreements bilaterally.

77. In a supplementary Report, Sub-Committee B examined the detail provided (the text of the two mandates was confidential) and concluded that the Council's mandates appeared to be acceptable to UK national interest provided safeguards were introduced into the negotiations for an Open Aviation Area to prevent a phased negotiation from breaking down and leaving the UK in a worst position than it enjoyed under the existing bilateral ASA with the US.

Entrepreneurship in Europe: Commission's Green Paper

78. The Commission's Green Paper is the most recent of a series of Reports from the European Commission designed to encourage entrepreneurship. Both the European Union and the United Kingdom devote considerable funds each year to spread over an extensive range of programmes in support of enterprise - in the region of 13 billion euros at Community level and just under 8 billion pounds in the United Kingdom (counting receipts from the Common Agricultural Policy).

79. In our Report, Sub-Committee B focussed on:

80. We concluded that:

  • any action plan based on the Green Paper had to be preceded by a thorough analysis of the evaluations currently being carried out by the European Commission;
  • all policies proposed should have clear objectives specified in measurable form before policy was launched; and
  • all schemes should have both monitoring and evaluation information collection defined and built into the programme design.

Packaging and packaging waste

81. Sub-Committee B considered and followed-up the Government Response on its Report "Packaging and Packaging Waste: Revised Recovery and Recycling Targets"[16].

16   33rd Report, Session 2001-02, HL Paper 166. Back

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