Chelgate Public Affairs Newsletter – September 2019
EU Parliament is back…
And the Commission is nearly back too!
With all the talk this week of parliaments being prorogued, you can rest assured that at least the European Parliament shall be open during September. After the long Summer Recess this will be a busy month – both legislatively and politically. The new and emboldened EU Parliamentary Committees will be scrutinising the proposed EU Commissioners under their remit in what will prove to be a feisty exchange and legislative portfolios will begin to be picked up again.
What a Waste (Directive)!
2018 revised directive to be re-reviewed in 2020
Just when you thought a waste directive was here to stay, along comes the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUP Directive) to change all this and bring about a new revision of the EU’s Waste Directive – a true legislative circular economy.
The Commission understands consumer awareness has changed in recent years and the issues of packaging waste needs to be addressed – especially given the steep rise in online commerce. Anyone following the SUP Directive legislative passage will understand how pressing a concern package recycling is to the co-legislators. Given the ambition of the SUP Directive, the 2018 revised EU Waste Directive does already feel outdated and so a 2020 revision make sense.
The most radical change we believe to be under consideration is the material-specific targets. These material-specific targets will seek to priorities and incentivise certain materials which ensure reusability and recyclability. Make no mistake, this is a major review of the 2018 Directive and will fundamentally alter the so-called ‘essential elements of the Directive – those parts of the directive which list the characteristics that packaging must have or meet in order to be placed on the market.
The European Commission have already begun gathering views from the EU member states – although the UK may have thought it a waste of time – in order to ensure the SUP Directive recycling targets for 2030 are met. The EU looks like it means business in cutting packaging waste; however, given the length of the 2018 version of the directive, I just hope too many people didn’t print it out.
Expect policy whispers in September from the ENVI Committee and firm legislative proposals from the Commission in the coming months. The SUP Directive is certainly one to watch closely.
Please contact Chris Morris if the want to discuss the potential impact of the SUP Directive.
Recharging the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive
Commission opens up review of ELV Directive to incorporate electric, we think…
As part of the ongoing circular economy package, the European Commission have opened a public consultation as part of its evaluation of the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive.
The 2005 Directive was designed to encourage manufacturers to build vehicles without hazardous substances, so their parts can be reused and ensure the dismantling, recycling and reusing of vehicles is more environmentally friendly. The directive has been a success to date but faces becoming outdated by the continued onset of new alternative vehicles.
The evaluation of the ELV Directive, which addresses the end of life for automotive products, will determine how effective the Directive has been at achieving its objectives. The evaluation comes at a time when new challenges are arising within the industry. One of the issues on the agenda will be how to classify the increasing number of electrical products in cars, either under the WEEE directive (waste electrical and electronic equipment) or under the ELV directive (end of life vehicles).
The Directive’s evaluation is further thought to bring answers to a variety of industry concerns. In its public consultation, industry bodies have argued that the Commission should improve coherence between the ELV Directive and other EU frameworks, such as REACH and RoHS Directive. The ELV Directive will be the first of a series of new transport regulations coming from the EU Commission over the course of the next 24 months. Most of these will focus on enabling a model shift to low and zero emission vehicles.
The ELV will also prove an important benchmark in assessing the incoming EU Commission’s ambitions with regard to promoting a circular economy – anything deemed to be unambitious will likely face a tough time in the European Parliament. The consultation period for the evaluation runs from 6 August until 29 October and its adoption is planned for late 2020.
New EU Commission Taking Shape
Member States put forward their commissioner nominations, but will the new president and Parliament approve?
National governments across the EU have named their candidates for the next European Commission, which will be headed by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen. After a slowdown over the last few weeks in the EU, we are beginning to understand how the new EU Commission, under President von der Leyen, will differ from that of President Junker.
Importantly, Ursula von der Leyen is looking to dramatically increase the legislative role of her vice presidents by giving them direct access to the EU Commission’s staff and resources. This will allow ambitious and energetic new commissioners to be able to play a far greater role in proposing and shaping future EU regulations than under the current system. With this new EU Commission setup, getting to the know the Commissioner overseeing your portfolio has never been more important, so let’s look at a few of the names in the running for transport and environment.
Violeta Bulc, the current Slovenian transport commissioner, will be packing her bags as Slovenia put forward Janez Lenarčič. Lenarčič, a professional diplomat with nearly three decades of experience, is politically unaffiliated. He previously served as a director at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. “Lenarčič is an experienced candidate with top references in international and European affairs and meets all required criteria,” the Slovenian government tweeted.
His main competitor for the post at this stage is thought to be will be Kadri Simson. While Simson has been named among five candidates for Commissioner for Energy, Simson is in a good position to be allocated responsibilities in either energy, transport or internal market given her background in those fields. The strongest bid for the role comes from Bucharest. Prime minister Viorica Dăncilă has reportedly informed Brussels officials that Dan Nica or Rovana Plumb would also be interested in the Transport or Environment portfolios.
Frans Timmermans, the current Vice President of the EU Commission, is thought to be in line for the role of developing the EU’s new Green Deal – something von der Leyen has promised. What we do not know, is which commissioners be working alongside him in developing this new package.
Emmanuel Macron has chosen long-time ally Sylvie Gouldard as his pick to be France’s European Commissioner for the next five years. If Goulard obtains the support of Ursula von der Leyen and the European Parliament, she will likely be the succeeding European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs. While Macron is hopeful for an economic and monetary portfolio, France have supposedly indicated to von der Leyen in that it may be willing to accept a transport or climate portfolio – pressumebly so long as it includes infrastructure and it is as a vice president position.
Goulard is a former MEP with extensive policy experience and an in-depth knowledge of the European Parliament, but Macron’s decision to put her forward for Commissioner will not be without controversy given her recent criticism over alleged misuse of EU funds by her party during her time in the European Parliament. While she has not yet been cleared, she is no longer the main focus of the investigation.
Each European country is competing for influential jobs, so Gouldard’s aim for an economic portfolio is not a sure thing. There is still some time to wait, however, as the European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen is expected to make her portfolio announcement on 15 September.
2020 Gas Package Update!
The upcoming energy agenda will be all about gas. Now that EU policymakers have agreed to reform the bloc’s electricity markets to accommodate more renewable and better connect power grids, the Commission is due to come out with proposals aimed at reforming gas markets, including by promoting what the industry calls “green” gas, such as hydrogen and synthetic fuels. Parliament will soon be called upon to weigh in with amendments.
Ahead of the gas market design legislation due in early 2020, the European Commission is running eight different studies that feed into the gas legislation, including the “Gas Infrastructure 2050”, which evaluates the impact of decarbonisation targets on gas demand and infrastructure. Similarly, the recently published Sector Coupling study identified factors that might limit the contribution of renewable gas and sector coupling technologies to cost-effective decarbonisation in the EU.
The Commission has made clear that it intends to prepare a gas package to address new opportunities and issues concerning natural, renewable and decarbonised gas. At this stage, there are no drafts. However, broad issues surrounding the purpose of the regulation have been identified: governance, upgrading the gas market, and sector coupling.
The EU Parliament have already earmarked the Gas Package regulation as one of their priority portfolios and political groups will be working hard to secure important rapporteruships on the package. The Commission have already indicated the introduction of a binding target for renewable and decarbonised gases, however, the Parliament will be watching closely to ensure the targets are considered ambitious enough – a common theme at the moment…
With a current focus on the need to decarbonise the energy system, and increasing interest in decarbonising the gas industry, there is a lot of potential for further growth in the production and use of biogas and biomethane under the upcoming 2020 European Commission Gas Package.
September Committee hearings
The Chelgate team will be on the ground attending the TRAN and ENVI Committee hearings. If you require in depth analysis and engagement advice on any of the legislative files being scrutinised in September, please contact us.
The Committees are both still negotiating the rapporteur appointments and we shall keep readers up-to-date on the negotiations.
Next Committee Dates
Monday, 02 September, 15:00-18:30
Tuesday, 03 September, 09:00-12:30
Tuesday, 03 September, 14:30-18:30
Wednesday, 4 September, 09:00-12:30
Wednesday, 4 September,14:30-18:30
Thursday, 5 September, 9:00-12:30
EU Commission Public Consultations / Call for Tenders
The European Commission regularly open public consultations in order to receive feedback on policy proposals or to gauge the need for legislative action in a given area. These consultations are easy to respond to and enable companies to ensure their thoughts are brought to the attention of the EU Commission at an early state.
- Consultation on the list of candidate Projects of Common interest in oil infrastructure – open from 4 July to 26 September
- Industrial Emissions – evaluating EU rules – open from 27 May to 4 September
- Fishing opportunities for 2020 under the Common Fisheries Policy – open from 11 June to 20 August
- State Aid guidelines for fisheries (amendment) – open from 28 June to 20 September
- Sustainable Batteries (EU Requirements) – open from 13 June to 8 August
Please contact Chris Morris for more information on EU Transport Policy, the SUP Directive or any of these matters. Further information is available on the Chelgate Public Affairs website.