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European Environment Ministers Discuss 7th Action Programme

11 June 2012: The European Environment Ministers met in the Environment Council to adopt conclusions on setting the framework for the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (EAP) and on preparations for key biodiversity and climate meetings, among other items.

In the Conclusions on the 7th EAP, the Environment Ministers stress the need for the EAP to define key elements of future environmental policies, linked to the Europe 2020 Strategy and the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. The Conclusions point to two main elements of the 7th EAP namely strengthening and better implementing existing environmental policies and legislation, and transitioning to a green economy. At the Council meeting, the European Commission confirmed that it would present a proposal for the 7th EAP by the close of 2012, building on the Resource Efficiency Roadmap and the 2050 vision of the EU biodiversity strategy and taking into account the Low-Carbon Roadmap.

On the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 6), both scheduled to take place in Hyderabad, India, in October 2012, the Conclusions allow for “solid negotiating positions” at COP 11 on: the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020; resource mobilization; and marine biodiversity. The Conclusions: emphasize the need to substantially increase resources, from all possible sources, for biodiversity; commit to ratifying and implementing the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) before CBD COP 12; and call for launching at the earliest possible date negotiations, under the UN General Assembly (UNGA), for a UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) implementing agreement addressing conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

On the 18th session of the COP to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Council held an orientation debate on the proposal for a decision on accounting rules and plans related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). The European Commission proposed that member States establish national action plans to limit or reduce emissions, and maintain or increase removals from the LULUCF sector.

The Council took note of: information from the Presidency on the state of play concerning the Commission's communication "A roadmap for the transition to a competitive low-carbon economy," which aims at establishing a sustainable and cost-effective trajectory to 2050; and of the information provided by the Presidency and the Commission concerning the preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The Environment Council also adopted conclusions on preparations for the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury, to take place in Punta del Este, Uruguay, from 27 June -2 July 2012, and the third session of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) conference, to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 17-21 September 2012. [European Commission Press Release] [Council of the EU Press Release] [Conclusions on the 7th EAP] [Conclusions on Biodiversity and Biosafety]