Legal procedures to officially ditch the legislation should be completed in the next couple of months.
The final decision has been taken and nothing could be foreseen that would change the executive’s mind at this stage, EU sources told EurActiv.
Karl Falkenberg, the Commission’s Director-General for the environment, told MEPs at a European Parliament’s ENVI Committee meeting that the formal decision would take place in February.
The circular economy package included a 70% recycling or reuse target for municipal waste by 2030, and to ban recyclable materials such as plastics, paper, metals, glass and biodegradable waste to landfill by 2025.
FEAD – “… no Commission proposal has ever come out of a legislative procedure without amendments and improvements. This is exactly the role of the European Parliament and the Council. To withdraw a legislative proposal welcomed by a large majority in both institutions would be unacceptable”
The EU’s waste package was dropped at the end of last year, to be replaced with a more “ambitious proposal” by the end of 2015.
It is understood the Commission wants to combine the circular economy package with Juncker’s new Investment Plan.
MEPs from the Liberals, Socialists and Greens clubbed together last week to vote in favour of individual amendments criticising the withdrawal of the environmental proposals. Each of the three groups’ amendments on waste and air quality received narrow majorities.
Political groups were unable to agree on the wording of the joint resolution to object to shelving the package in Strasbourg. Each group tabled its own resolution, but none received overall majority support.
In a statement at yesterday’s hearing, FEAD reiterated its support for the Commission’s legislative proposal on circular economy and called upon the European Parliament to keep putting political pressure on the Commission to retain the proposal in its Work Programme for 2015.
FEAD vice-president Peter Kurth: “The envisaged targets on waste, recycling and waste prevention are ambitious. Nobody will deny that. And everyone recognises that they will require serious efforts, in particular from the new EU Member States that have only just begun to develop a proper waste management infrastructure.
“There is no doubt that the Package has its shortfalls, especially with regard to the financial instruments needed to reach the targets. But no Commission proposal has ever come out of a legislative procedure without amendments and improvements. This is exactly the role of the European Parliament and the Council. To withdraw a legislative proposal welcomed by a large majority in both institutions would be unacceptable.”
“The example of the Clean Air Policy Package, which is to remain part of the Commission Work Programme, has shown the Commission’s willingness to reconsider its position, notwithstanding the fact that the Clean Air Policy Package sparked a far more controversial debate in the Council than the Circular Economy Package. Also for the Circular Economy Package, the political dialogue should be continued without delay, based on the Commission proposal at hand.”
The Commission’s impact assessment has shown that full implementation of the circular economy package would create 180,000 new jobs in Europe.
The package has an economic potential of 600 billion euro, which equals five times the estimated added value of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
FEAD is therefore convinced that the circular economy package should be supported by the Commission not only for environmental reasons, but also because it could be a centrepiece of the new Commission’s strategy to create growth and jobs.
The Environmental Services Association’s (ESA), Executive Director, Jacob Hayler commented on the news: “It is disappointing that the Commission now seems finally to have decided to withdraw the circular economy waste proposals, contrary to the majority view among MEPs and EU Environment Ministers.
“This will delay the introduction of a clear policy framework beyond 2020 at European level, and the continuing uncertainty over future policy direction will discourage much-needed private sector investment in resource management infrastructure.”
“Nevertheless ESA, and its European association FEAD, will continue to work closely with the Commission, the Parliament, and the Member States to help develop the ‘more ambitious’ circular economy package which Vice President Timmermans has promised to re-table later this year.
“This new package will need to retain key elements of the existing proposals, while adding measures to prevent waste and strengthen the markets for recycled and recovered materials”.