Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


Letter from the Right Hon. Michael Meacher MP, Minister for the Environment

  I am writing to update you on progress in the Council and European Parliament on the above proposal.

  The original proposal was considered by your Committee under cover of Explanatory Memorandum (EM) 7272/01 dated 11 April 2001. It was considered on 24 April 2001 and cleared.

  In December the same year, the Commission produced an amended proposal which included a draft Common Position prepared in a Council Working Group. The subsequent EM (15359/01) and Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) dated 31 January 2002 were prepared to accompany the amended proposal. This EM drew attention to the draft Common Position and included a description of the main differences between the two documents. This EM was also cleared by your Committee at its meeting on 29 January. The final Common Position was unchanged from the draft version cleared by your Committee and was adopted by Council on 15 April 2002.

  The European Parliament's Environment Committee approved the Council's Common Position and 21 amendments in a Second Reading vote on 18 June. The broad impact of the EP amendments was to increase the reporting requirements and to reduce flexibility in the collection and reporting of data. This included an increase in the reporting cycle from two years (as in the Common Position) to annual.

  Following urgent discussions between the Presidency, Commission and the European Parliament a compromise proposal has been produced. The main features of this proposal are:

    —  the retention of two-yearly reporting;

    —  the extension of the regulation to cover agriculture and fishing sectors with appropriate transitional arrangements (the Common Position proposed pilot studies before inclusion); and

    —  firmer commitments for pilot studies and the future inclusion of some data on imports and exports waste.

  Therefore, the key elements remain essentially the same as set out in EM 15359/01 and cleared by your Committee in February.

  In supporting the Common Position, the Government made clear that further proposals to increase the frequency of reporting for the regulation would be unwelcome. The compromise proposal is not ideal in all respects but meets our key concerns on this issue and minimises the risk of increased costs to business and government. We believe there are benefits in accepting this second reading deal, and thereby avoiding conciliation. The Government therefore supports the compromise proposal.

  A meeting of COREPER on 3 July confirmed its unanimous position in favour of the compromise proposal. The European Parliament in its Second Reading on 4 July also voted to accept the compromise proposal. Thus, the regulation on waste statistics has been agreed, and awaits formal adoption and publication in the Official Journal.

  I enclose a copy of the compromise text for your information (changes from the Common Position are highlighted).

15 July 2002

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