16 May 2017 by Will Date

UK criticised over Circular Economy package ‘transparency’

The UK government has been criticised for a ‘lack of transparency’ over its position on the EU’s Circular Economy package, ahead of negotiations on the legislative proposals this summer.

The European Environment Bureau (EEB) pressure group alongside Friends of the Earth Europe and Zero Waste Europe, have approached each of the 27 European Union Member States to assess their stance on the Circular Economy Package, and accused the UK of “failing to conduct negotiations in an open and transparent manner”.

The loan contained EU funding

MEPs voted in March in favour of proposals to increase the EU-wide recycling target to 70% by 2030, as well as plans to change the way progress towards recycling targets is measured, among a raft of measures being proposed to update legislation around waste and recycling as part of the package (see letsrecycle.com story).

The measures will be discussed further during negotiations between the European Council of Ministers and the Commission in the coming weeks.

Negotiations

By the end of May, all three EU institutions – the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union – will enter the final inter-institutional negotiations before agreeing on the final text of the new waste laws.

Ahead of the negotiations, the groups had asked Member States whether they will support the proposals, and has claimed that nations, including Denmark and Finland are highly opposed to the measures – described as ‘laggards’ by the pressure groups.

They also claim that the UK, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Slovenia and Croatia have been unwilling to share their position, “highlighting a long-standing transparency problem during negotiations between Member States”.

Defra

Despite not detailing its stance on the Circular Economy package to the campaign groups, Defra is known to be reluctant to commit to a higher recycling target, with the resources minister Dr Thérèse Coffey having already described the 65% goal as “too high to be achievable” (see letsrecycle.com story).

Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the EEB, said: “We hear every day that governments are committed to reducing waste in order to reap the benefits of the circular economy. But what happens in the negotiations, behind closed doors, is sometimes a completely different story.

“Without higher targets for recycling and binding measures for prevention, which would inject confidence into the market, governments will struggle to find the investment opportunities necessary to trigger the transition to a circular economy. Providing long term ambition and binding requirements is what drives change.”

Some EU Members have been praised by the EEB as leading the Circular Economy agenda, including southern countries such as Greece and Romania as well as Spain, which it claims have called for stronger support for recycling, waste prevention, preparation for reuse and better separate collection.

Other countries supporting the reforms are France, Belgium and the Netherlands, according to EEB.


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