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Main points of the press conference following the EU Environment Council Meeting

At the press conference after the meeting of the Environment Council on 5 June 2008 in Luxembourg, the Council President, Slovenian Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Janez Podobnik, and the EU Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, presented the salient points of the policy debate in Council.

Since the first policy debate in the Environment Council in mid-March, in-depth expert negotiations have been conducted on four legislative acts from the climate-energy package. The negotiations reached a phase where additional political guidelines were required in order to continue. “This is a key phase in the development of every legislative proposal,” said Mr Podobnik, adding, “The debate could not have come at a better time.” In the debate, the ministers expressed their appreciation for the progress report prepared by the Presidency. They confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of development so far and the large volume of work done. New proposals on the package add certain elements which will further enhance the package. The French Presidency will receive a good basis for the final drafting of legislation and for negotiations with the European Parliament in the early autumn with a view to the final adoption of an agreement on the package by the end of 2008.

Another important item in the policy debate was the Regulation on CO2 emissions from motor vehicles. This is a very important issue for the European Union in several respects, as one-fifth of all CO2 emissions in Europe are produced by vehicles. The basic questions of whether to impose financial burdens with reference to vehicle size or engine power remain unresolved; however, solutions are closer than ever before. By taking measures in this field, the European Union will show the world a real example of technology use aimed at achieving an environmental impact and, at the same time, encourage a series of eco-innovations in Europe. The proposal for a Regulation, to which car producers and users will have to adapt within a few years, may also include long-term objectives.

The discussion on genetically modified organisms (GMO) reinforced the conviction that scientific research and risk assessment need to be further strengthened. In this context, it is important to take into consideration the modifications that occur in agriculture as well as the specific characteristics of individual geographical regions. The long-term effects of GMO use should be properly assessed and its socio-economic effects taken into account. Undoubtedly, both aspects will be an important part of future discussions on the question of GMOs.


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Date: 09.06.2008