Environmental success lies in the hands of local governments  

The Commission for Environment, Energy and Climate Change (ENVE) of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is back to business with key dossiers on the table. Amongst them, the role of energy communities in Europe's energy transition, the future of the LIFE programme, the requirements for water reuse, the high-potential of the EU's space programme and the controversial single-use plastics.

The meeting of the Commission for Environment, Energy and Climate Change (ENVE) in Brussels started with a statement of Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director-General for the Environment of the European Commission. Calleja Crespo stressed that the "successes of environmental policies in Europe lie in the hands of local and regional governments" and incentivised CoR members to become "ambassadors of the added value of the EU's environmental acquis." 

Members discussed a draft opinion on the 'Proposal for a single-use plastics Directive', by rapporteur Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP). The city councillor of Espoo said: "We welcome the proposal. However, just listing plastic items and prohibiting them would be insufficient. We believe that the European Commission should publish a comprehensive impact assessment that outlines the social, economic and environmental implications of the proposed measures. We also call the European Commission to enlarge the scope beyond seas and maritime environments as to include freshwater and shallow seas." The opinion is to be adopted next plenary session 9-10 October.

Marco Dus (IT/PES), member of the Vittorio Veneto Municipal Council presented his draft opinion on the future of the LIFE programme. Rapporteur Dus said: "We welcome the substantial increase of the LIFE programme budget after 2020. However, we have to be honest: LIFE's scope is also being expanded to include clean energy programmes. We are concerned local and regional governments may have fewer resources for concrete projects. Together with the European Parliament, we ask for an even greater increase in funding to meet the huge challenges ahead of us." The European Commission has proposed to increase the LIFE programme budget from €3.4 billion in the current financial period to €5.45 billion for 2021-2027. The CoR opinion is to be adopted next plenary session 9-10 October.

Members unanimously endorsed the draft opinion on the 'Models of local energy ownership and the role of local energy communities in Europe's energy transition' by rapporteur Mariana Gâju (RO/PES). The Mayor of Cumpăna said: "We need to make sure that local energy communities contribute to the decentralisation and democratisation of energy systems and foster sustainable economic and social development locally. A closer cooperation between the EU's and the Member States' regional and energy policies is crucial to reach that goal." The opinion is to be adopted during the 5-6 December plenary session.

Members had an exchange of views on the 'Proposal for a Regulation on the minimum requirements for water reuse' by rapporteur Oldřich Vlasák (CZ/ECR). The councillor from Hradec Králové declared: "We propose to increase the scope of the proposed regulation not just for agricultural irrigation, but also for the irrigation of green spaces in urban areas, parks, gardens and grounds for public use.  We need proper and standardised regulation at the EU level to safeguard the single market with regard to agricultural products." The CoR opinion is to be adopted next plenary session 9-10 October.

Andres Jaadla (ET/ALDE) presented his working document 'The Space Programme of the European Union and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme'. The member of the Rakvere City Council said: "We need to bring space technologies down to earth. Substantial funds are now needed to fully exploit the potential of satellite technologies to improve the lives of our communities. From satellite navigation to Earth observation programmes, space policy brings tangible benefits to EU citizens while helping boost investments, jobs and growth."

The photos of the 20th ENVE commission meeting are available here.

Contact: David Crous | david.crous@cor.europa.eu | +32 (0) 470 88 10 37