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ENVE visits Lower-Saxony  

Twelve members of the Commission for Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions have paid a visit to the town and district of Leer in the German region of Lower-Saxony. The objective is to get acquaintance of the Master Plan Ems 2050, a comprehensive programme to improve water quality and habitats, in line with requirements from the EU nature and water directives, while ensuring economic development along the Ems waterway.

Together with agriculture and tourism, ship transportation shapes the Ems region with nearly 15,000 employees working in this sector. However, the Ems waterway is in poor ecological condition as the water contains little oxygen, a lot of suspended matter and too much salt. The concentration of sediment in the water of the Ems is 100- to 1000-times that in the Elbe and Weser rivers. The harbors along the Ems are also suffering from the massive silt contamination.

The Master Plan Ems 2050 aims at securing the economic infrastructure of the Ems region, to offer plants and animals significantly better water quality and to revitalise the habitats along the banks. In addition to improving statutory habitats, silt reduction measures will contribute to maintaining the Ems as an efficient federal waterway and to ensure the economic development of the region. Overall, the Master Plan Ems 2050 intends to recreate typical estuary habitats while maintaining the Ems's function as a shipping waterway.

The study visit falls within ENVE's policy priority of improving the implementation of EU's environmental legislation. The CoR joined a project team of EU commissioners for the first time to steer the newly launched Nature Directives Action Plan . In addition, EU's Assembly of local and regional representatives is currently contributing to the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) via an opinion of Andrew Cooper (UK/EA) , Member of Kirklees Council, to be adopted in October 2017. On the EU Birds and Habitats Directives – also known as Nature Directives, the CoR pledges of releasing an action plan instead of making revision in law was echoed by the European Commission (opinion of Roby Biwer (LU/PES), Member of Bettembourg Municipal Council, December 2015).

The members who have taken part in the study visit are the following: From the EPP group; Csaba Borboly (RO/EPP), President of Harghita County Council, Dimitrios Kalogeropoulos (EL/EPP) , from the Municipal Council of Palaio Faliro, Raymund Kovács (HU/EPP), Representative District 16 Budapest and Giorgio SILLI (IT/EPP), Member of Prato Municipal Council. From the PES group; Matteo Besozzi (IT/PES), President of the Province of Novara, Roby Biwer (LU/PES), Member of Bettembourg Municipal Council, Marco Dus (IT/PES), Member of Vittorio Veneto Municipal Council, Province of Treviso,Paul Farrugia (MT/PES), Mayor of Ħal Tarxien. From ALDE; Cees Loggen (NL/ALDE), Member of the Executive Council of the Province of North-Holland and Satu Tietari (FI/ALDE), Local councillor of Säkylä. From EA; Declan McDonnell (IE/EA) from Galway City Council. From ECR; Vytautas Kanevičius (LT/ECR), Member of Kazlų Rūda Municipal Council.

The study visit was organized in cooperation with CoR member Birgit Honé (DE/PES), State Secretary for Europe and Regional State Development in the Lower Saxony State Chancellery.

Next 15 May, the CoR First Vice-President Karl-Heinz Lambertz will take part in a ceremony for the launch of the European Natura 2000 Day, to be celebrated every year on 21 May.

The European Committee of the Regions, the European Commission and the Maltese Presidency are jointly hosting a conference on 6 June 2017 on the EU Nature Directives Action Plan in the premises of the CoR.

Background information

New EU Nature Directives Action Plan supports regions to protect biodiversity and drive socio-economic growth

Click here for more information on the Ems Master Plan 2050.

David Crous | Tel. +32 (0)470 88 10 37 |

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