The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has accused certain EU countries of “sabotaging the transition to a circular economy”, claiming EU Council leaks expose “divide and doublespeak” among member states on waste law proposals.
In May, an investigation by the EEB, Zero Waste Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe claimed to reveal the countries that are “sabotaging the transition to a circular economy”.
The EEB says it has continued to monitor the negotiations on the EU waste proposals, and now claims a number of countries are “shying away from their commitment to a stronger and more resource-efficient economy”.
“The EU Council chaired by the Maltese Presidency was supposed to represent the interest of the European people on the waste front. Instead it raised uncertainty over the future of the circular economy in Europe.”
It says the EU Council’s position, agreed in May by member states led by the Maltese Presidency “behind closed doors”, is currently significantly less ambitious than that presented by the European Commission and Parliament.
The EEB says that if a “regressive position” is to prevail in the negotiations, plans to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the coming years will most likely stall.
Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the EEB, said: “The EU Council chaired by the Maltese Presidency was supposed to represent the interest of the European people on the waste front. Instead it raised uncertainty over the future of the circular economy in Europe.”
“It won’t be hard for the upcoming Estonian Presidency to do better than the Maltese on the waste package. We expect them to be more resolute and listen to NGOs, businesses and policymakers calling for stronger waste laws for our future generations.”
The Maltese Presidency kicked off the negotiations in May. The Estonian Presidency will lead the discussions from July to December. If no agreement will be reached by the end of the year, the Bulgarian Presidency will take the lead in 2018.
EU Council Leaks
The EEB says recent leaks from Council meetings and insights into national developments expose what it calls “divide and doublespeak” among EU countries. It claims:
- Romania backed a weak position on waste prevention and asked the Council for time derogations for recycling targets. The country is moving forward with plans to postpone the introduction of a landfill tax and build three incinerators – which EEB says implies a greater amount of valuable resources will be burnt or buried rather than reused or recycled.
- Poland is even less ambitious. Its latest position on recycling, as made clear in a recent meeting of environment ministers. Government officials, who in May refused to share their position with NGOs, called for a 50% recycling target by 2030. The existing target is 50% by 2020.
- Germany recently affirmed it will support a 65% recycling target as proposed by the European Commission, despite having previously “dodged the question”, the EEB says. This means that there is now strong support for higher recycling targets in many EU countries, particularly ones with high populations – something that the Presidency of the EU Council needs to take into account, it says. The country, however, has confirmed its opposition to waste prevention proposals.
- Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania and Latvia remain the most “regressive countries” opposing most of the proposals.
- These are followed by the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden, Portugal and Luxembourg, which reject higher ambition on waste prevention, despite backing higher recycling rates, EEB says.
- Ireland, Slovenia, Croatia and the UK refused to share their position with NGOs in May, and appear to have “remained silent” in recent discussions.
- Greece, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain remain what the EEB calls “leaders” in the negotiations. These governments are calling for stronger support for recycling, waste prevention, preparation for reuse and better separate collection.