European Union flags in front of the Berlaymont building (European commission) in Brussels, Belgium.
An assessment of the performance of the Maltese Presidency of the EU in relation to environmental issues has been published by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).
Following a systematic assessment based on the Ten Green Tests laid out at the start of the presidency, Malta has performed well in relation to nature protection but badly when it comes to measures to tackle climate change or transform our energy system.
The EEB is the largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations in Europe with more than 140 members in over 30 countries.
Every six months at the rotation of the EU Presidency, the EEB publishes an assessment of the outgoing presidency and Ten Green Tests for the incoming presidency.
Key findings of the assessment are:
Malta took quick action to support implementation of the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy once it was published in April.
On climate change, Malta was too accommodating of Member States’ requests and efforts to create loopholes in relation to the Effort Sharing Regulation and did not adjust the ambition upwards to account for the Paris Agreement.
The Maltese Presidency oversaw the weakening of the Energy Efficiency Directive with a move away from a binding 30 per cent energy efficiency target.
In the negotiations on the revision of the waste legislation, the Maltese Presidency put forward proposals aimed at aligning the Council position with that of the least ambitious Member States, leading to recycling targets being watered down and prevention and preparation-for-reuse targets being ignored with no mention at all of targets for food waste or marine litter.
Under the Maltese Presidency, the Council called on the Commission to publish an implementation strategy by next year for the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Commenting on the assessment Jeremy Wates Secretary General of the EEB said:
“The picture which has emerged is in our view a mixed one. We felt that the Maltese government played a very constructive role in steering the discussions on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development in a positive direction.
“We also welcome the outcome of the discussion on biodiversity, where the resulting Council Conclusions should help to secure better implementation of the Nature Directives by giving momentum to the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy.
“We were much less satisfied with the efforts and outcomes in the negotiations on the revision of the legislation on waste and energy efficiency, where we feel that opportunities were missed and that more could have been achieved.”
This week the Estonian Presidency of the EU has started. The EEB has also today published a Memorandum to the Estonian Presidency outlining what is needed to move forward in relation to environmental and sustainability issues.
The EEB is calling on the Estonian government to use this Presidency to bring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into the centre of the discussion about the future of Europe.
Mr Wates said:
“Estonia is taking over the EU Presidency at an important moment in the history of the European Union. Against the backdrop of the early stages of the Brexit negotiations, European leaders will attempt to reach agreement on the future direction of the European Union, a discussion which should culminate in Council Conclusions towards the end of this Presidency.
“To date, launched by the Commission’s White Paper in March, the discussion has largely focussed on ‘how much Europe’ rather than ‘what kind of Europe’, with the all-important 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development given only marginal consideration.
“We hope that the Estonian Presidency will use its central role in the forthcoming debate to insist that sustainable development and a healthy environment are fundamental to Europe’s future and that committing to these themes can mobilize Europeans around a positive vision.”