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Environment Council discusses pollution prevention, air and water quality, and climate change

Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard represented the Commission at the Environment Ministers' Council in Luxembourg on 22 and 23 June 1995. The Council discussed a variety of issues and reached agreement on the following major points of the agenda: integrated pollution prevention and...
Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard represented the Commission at the Environment Ministers' Council in Luxembourg on 22 and 23 June 1995. The Council discussed a variety of issues and reached agreement on the following major points of the agenda: integrated pollution prevention and control, and air quality.

- Integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC):

The Council approved a common position on the proposal for a Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control. The proposal outlines a radical new approach to industrial pollution control at European level - the integrated approach. This means that pollution from big industry will be tackled by taking the whole environment into account, rather than each medium in isolation as before. Authorities will balance the requirements of the different media, choosing the technique which provides the best overall solution in environmental protection terms. The exchange of information will allow for the spread of best practice, resulting in a high level of protection for the environment as a whole.

- Ambient air quality assessment and management:

The Council also reached a political agreement on a Directive on the assessment and management of ambient air quality. The objective of the Directive is to provide a Community-wide framework for assessing and managing ambient air quality. It emphasizes, in particular, the following:

- The need for common rules for assessing air quality;
- Information to the public;
- Actions necessary to improve air quality.

Given the increasing public concern with respect to air quality problems such as ozone and benzene, the agreement on the Directive will provide an impetus for concerted action at a European level with regard to improving air quality.

The Council also adopted the draft conclusions following the UN Framework Convention Conference on Climate Change organized in Berlin in March 1995. The draft conclusions are a first attempt by the Council to address the general features regarding the negotiations on a protocol or other instrument under the Convention.

In the field of ecological water quality, the Council debated the Commission's proposal of 1994, which aims at simplifying and updating legislation on surface water. It foresees new obligations for Member States to identify objectives for water quality, installs a system of surveillance of water quality and sources of pollution, and aims at elaborating integrated programmes to improve the quality of surface water. A number of delegations at the Council meeting were against lowering standards in the EU water Regulations.

Mrs. Bjerregaard presented a Commission proposal for a Council Regulation modifying Regulation 259/93 concerning shipment of hazardous waste ("Basle Convention"). The proposal aims at prohibiting all exports of hazardous waste destined for recovery operations from EU to non-OECD countries. The Council unanimously supported the Commission's recommendation for a negotiating mandate at the Third Conference of the Parties to the Basle Convention, to be held in September 1995.
DE

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