Chapter News

Environment Council, 5 March 2020

European Green Deal

The Council had an exchange of views on the European Green Deal.  Environment and climate ministers worked on the concrete steps needed to be taken so that the EU reaches its climate neutrality objective by 2050. Ministers discussed priority areas, encouraged a more resource efficient economy, and voiced out support for a just transition to climate neutrality.

EU’s climate long-term strategy submission to the UN

The Council adopted the EU’s submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy of the EU and its member states. The EU and its member states are fully committed to the Paris Agreement and its long-term goals.

By agreeing and delivering on ambitious social and economic transformation, the EU and its member states are aiming to inspire global climate action and demonstrate that moving towards climate neutrality is not only imperative but also feasible and desirable.

Air quality

The Council adopted conclusions on air quality. Air pollution remains the most important environmental cause of health problems in the EU, and it is estimated to cause more than 400,000 premature deaths each year. 

The Council considered that established air quality standards, in particular limit values, have been effective and remain essential to protect the health of citizens. However, the Council stressed that there is room for improvements to the legislative framework to ensure good air quality across the EU.

Evaluation of water legislation

Ministers exchanged views on a fitness check of EU water legislation. This policy evaluation covered several pieces of legislation: the water framework directive, the environmental quality standards directive, the groundwater directive and the floods directive.

European Semester

EU ministers discussed how to better incorporate environmental sustainability into the European Semester.

Fridays for Future

The Croatian presidency invited climate activist Greta Thunberg to address the Council on behalf of the Fridays for Future movement.

Other issues

The Commission presented its proposal on a European Climate Law and on a Just Transition Mechanism under the European Green Deal. The Commission also presented its communication on the European Green Deal Investment Plan.

Over lunch, ministers discussed climate diplomacy in the presence of Marc Vanheukelen, EEAS Ambassador at Large for Climate Diplomacy.

The Polish delegation informed ministers on the implementation of full auctioning for the aviation sector under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The Portuguese delegation informed ministers on the High Level Symposium on Water (Lisbon, 2 June 2020). Finally, the European Commission informed delegations about the by-catch of common dolphins, harbour porpoises and other protected species in fishing gear.

Compliments of the European Commission