2016 is certainly not a year that will be omitted from the history books, though unfortunately more for bad rather than good reasons. In terms of the environment and the fight against climate change, the energy transition continued globally and the Paris agreement entered into force, but even this progress was starting to look worryingly threatened by the looming shadow of US President-elect Donald Trump.
In Europe, the Slovak EU Presidency did well in helping to push through a decision to keep the EU nature directives intact and implement them better, and there were other wins regarding the phasing out of mercury amalgam and clear calls from the Council to step up efforts on chemical safety . However, sustainability considerations were sadly missing from the debate on Europe’s future launched under the Presidency in response to the Brexit vote and the environment fared poorly in discussions on trade, agriculture and fisheries.
Malta takes over the EU Presidency at a particularly challenging time, but rather than being daunted by the problems, the country should grasp this opportunity to take some big decisions that will bring about real solutions for citizens and nature.
Jeremy Wates, EEB Secretary General, said:
“Malta has the chance to make its mark – to stand up for people and the planet. To do this, it needs to insist that environmental protection as part of sustainable development is the way to create jobs and reengage the public with the EU project. Business-as-usual that panders to the industries of the past will weaken the current regulatory safety net of which Europeans should be proud and deprive future generations of a decent future.”
Notes for editors:
 Every six months at the rotation of the two EU presidencies, the EEB publishes an assessment of the outgoing Presidency and Ten Green Tests for the incoming presidency.