Select Committee on European Union Forty-Seventh Report


PART 3: ANALYSIS AND OPINION

REACTION TO THE COMMISSION'S DRAFT WASTE AND RECYCLING STRATEGY

15. Dr Caroline Jackson MEP, Chair of the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy Committee, expressed support for the publication of the Commission's draft strategy. This was echoed by the majority of witnesses, who saw it as an opportunity to address fundamental questions about the approach to waste policy in the EU.

16. Dr Jackson was pleasantly surprised by the following passage in the document, which she felt marked "a sudden change of direction, a realisation":

"Current Directives foresee that all Member States should achieve the same recycling rates. However, the question is legitimate whether this uniformity in targets is most effective from both an environmental and economic point of view"[20].

17. What witnesses found significant about the draft strategy was the fact that it raised questions about the practice of setting targets in waste legislation, thus providing the first opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom. The difficulty with which the UK and some other Member States have grappled with implementing waste legislation[21] reinforces the need to examine the current approach to waste policy. Although waste prevention has been the preferred outcome identified by the Commission since the original 1975 Waste Framework Directive, progress towards it has been slow.

18. The Commission's waste and recycling strategy reasserts the importance of waste prevention, admits past failure, and promises a new agenda "inspired by a lifecycle approach to resources management"[22]. However, it quickly became apparent to the Committee during the inquiry that in order to put this new approach into practice much more effort would have to be made by the European Community and individual Member States to develop appropriate legislation.

19. Witnesses highlighted several points in the European legislative process which had in the past had an impact on the quality of waste legislation and which, in the light of the Commission's wider ambitions for waste policy, should now be addressed in the course of developing new strategies on waste and resource use.

20. We believe that it is fundamental to the development of Community waste policy that the Commission identifies the weaknesses in the current approach to developing and implementing legislation and takes remedial action. The following sections analyse in detail the Committee's findings.

LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURE FOR WASTE PROPOSALS

21. The Commission is responsible for initiating new policies, strategies and legal measures at Community level. Measures addressing waste issues are usually initiated under either Article 175 (environment) or Article 95 (internal market) of the EC Treaty and are subject to the co-decision procedure, in which the Council and European Parliament act together to decide the final text of a Commission proposal.
Box 1

Co-decision and Transposition

CO-DECISION (EC TREATY ARTICLE 251)

Proposal

The Commission submits a proposal to the European Parliament and Council.

First Reading

The relevant standing committee in the European Parliament produces a report which usually suggests amendments to the Commission proposal. The European Parliament adopts a position on the basis of the report.

The Council of Ministers either approves Parliament's amendments (if any are made), in which case the legislative proposal is adopted, or it adopts a Common Position, which is forwarded to the Parliament for a second reading.

Second Reading

The relevant standing committee makes a recommendation, and the European Parliament delivers an opinion at second reading, either approving, rejecting or amending the Council position by an absolute majority of its Members. If the European Parliament does not take a decision, or if it approves the Council's Common Position, the measure is deemed to be adopted. If it rejects the Common Position the proposal is deemed not to be adopted.

If the proposal is amended, the Commission forwards it, together with the Commission's opinion on the amendments, to the Council. The Council can subsequently adopt Parliamentary amendments by a qualified majority, or modify amendments on which the Commission has delivered a negative opinion by a unanimous vote. If it does not adopt all of the Parliament's amendments, the conciliation procedure begins.

Conciliation

A conciliation committee is formed from the members of the Council and a delegation from Parliament. There is a maximum of six weeks for an agreement to be reached, in the form of a joint text, which is confirmed at the third reading. If no agreement is reached, or if the joint text fails to secure approval by the required majority of votes in the Council and the Parliament, the proposal lapses and does not become law.

Transposition and Implementation

Directives are binding upon Member States as to the result to be achieved, but leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods. In most cases, Member States implement Directives by adopting national legislation where necessary (a process known as "transposition"). Implementation, i.e. bringing into effect the necessary domestic legislation, has to be completed within a period of time specified by each Directive. Member States must submit reports to the Commission, showing that implementation has taken place. The Commission may initiate infraction proceedings before the European Court if it considers that a Member State has not implemented a Directive.

Technical Adaptation Committees

22. After co-decision, waste Directives can have detail added by implementing measures agreed through technical adaptation committees (see Box 2), under the system known as "comitology"[23]. These committees are made up of representatives of Member States, chaired by the Commission, and seek agreement on issues which are deemed to be too technical for inclusion in the parent legislation.

23. Technical adaptation committees play an integral role in providing the detail of framework Directives. According to Defra, there are currently three committees discussing waste legislation, including preparations for implementation of the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (see paragraph 30 et seq).

24. The committees have long attracted criticism for their lack of transparency, with only basic information on their membership and remit being available to the public[24]. The Commission publishes a list of the number of committees operating in a given year,[25] by policy sector and type of committee procedure. There is no sub-division for environmental policy, and no detail relating to which legislation is subject to this process. Box 2 contains a brief explanation of the committees' functions and how they relate to those of other "comitology committees".

Box 2

Technical Adaptation Committees

Technical adaptation committees are part of the comitology system of procedures where committees are set up to carry out detailed rule-making. This occurs when the Council delegates implementing powers to the Commission and the committees are set up to oversee the exercise of these powers. Current procedures are governed by Council Decision 1999/468/EC, which is undergoing a process of review.

Committees are made up of Member States' representatives (who may be government officials or nominated experts) and are chaired by Commission officials. However, who sits on them and when they meet is something of a mystery to the outsider. The Committees can in general be divided into three basic types:

(i) advisory committees (used mainly on internal market matters) give advice on draft measures; the Commission is required to take their advice into account and to report back to the committee on how it proposes to do so;

(ii) management committees are consulted by the Commission on draft implementing measures and give opinions on them by qualified majority voting (QMV); if a measure is approved by a committee, it may be implemented immediately; if not, it may still be implemented, but the Council must be notified and may, within a limited time, take a different decision;

(iii) regulatory committees similarly give opinions on Commission proposals by qualified majority voting; but in their case if a committee rejects a proposed measure, the Commission cannot put it into immediate effect, but must propose it to the Council for a decision; the Council is required to take action by QMV within three months.

25. From the evidence it was clear that the full implications of legislation were not always appreciated by the time a proposal had completed the co-decision process. Crucial definitions could be left to technical adaptation committees, which meant that Member States sometimes agreed to Directives without fully understanding their scope. Secondly, the legislative timetable did not always allow the technical adaptation committees time to conclude their deliberations before commitments previously timetabled in the framework legislation had to be met[26].
Box 3

Comitology: Key Recommendations
The current use of technical adaptation committees is unsatisfactory; legislation is significantly amended behind closed doors and there is no effective scrutiny by national parliaments. The timing of the process has also resulted in situations where details of significance to the implementation of Directives have not been ready before the legislation has to be in force in Member States.

Our recommendations should result in:

·  technical adaptation committees that focus on technical implementation measures and do not significantly alter the scope of a Directive;

·  greater transparency, through publishing committee minutes, proceedings, etc.; and

·  Project planning approach, where legislative timetables agreed during co-decision are compatible with work delegated to committees, and where committee deadlines are made publicly available.

The Waste Acceptance Criteria

26. A frequently cited[27] example of the problem just described is that of the waste acceptance criteria—a key element of the Landfill Directive and delegated to a technical adaptation committee to draft. The Landfill Directive was adopted in 1999 and sets targets for reducing Member States' dependence on landfilling. It aims to "prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from the landfilling of waste, by introducing stringent technical requirements for waste and land filling"[28].

27. The waste acceptance criteria are crucial to the planning of two major changes to UK landfill practice which are required by the Directive:

·  categorizing landfills into three types—hazardous, non-hazardous and inert; and

·  ending co-disposal[29] by July 2004.

28. The waste acceptance criteria define the type of waste allowed into each category of landfill. They were supposed to have been completed by the technical adaptation committee before the legislation came into force in Member States (July 2001) but were not finalised until January 2003. In the meantime the UK failed to meet the original implementation deadline of 16 July 2001, the legislation coming into force a year later (June 2002). Nevertheless operators of landfill sites were still expected to decide, by the deadline of July 2002, which type of landfill they would operate, without knowing what waste would be accepted.

29. As a result of the Council's decision to delegate a crucial part of the legislation to the Commission, and because the technical adaptation committee first met after Member States had begun the process of transposition, crucial details affecting the operation of the Landfill Directive were not agreed before the deadline for full implementation. The Government were thus in a position of having signed up to legislation without knowing the practical implications; while landfill operators were faced with significant uncertainty and confusion about what the law required.

Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

30. The Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive emerged from work on priority waste streams, initiated in 1991, and was adopted in 2002[30]. It is currently being transposed into Member State legislation along with a partner instrument, the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (RoHS)[31]. At the same time a technical adaptation committee is discussing the scope of both Directives. For the first time it is possible to track the progress of discussions, as the DTI have taken the unprecedented step of placing minutes of the meetings on their website. We welcome this initiative by the Department, although we are disappointed with the slow progress of discussions.

31. From the informal DTI minutes and the evidence to the inquiry it is apparent that both the scope of these Directives and practical questions of implementation are being discussed. The table below summarises the main issues which are being debated by Member States:
Scope of the Directives Implementation issues
Discussion of criteria which might be applied to deciding whether or not to include some products in the scope of the WEEE/RoHS, where their status was unclear. Definitions:

producer, retailer take-back, inter-EU trade, recycling targets

Discussion of the implications of excluding particular products from the scope of the WEEE Directive. Format of data
Examples of products with unclear status:

Car radios

Toys

Refrigerators in caravans

Military Equipment

Large industrial machinery

Design of WEEE marking symbol
Establishment of the maximum concentration values for the six substances in the RoHS Directive.

  Source: www.dti.gov.uk

32. It could be argued that questions about the scope of these Directives fell within the area of significant policy and should therefore have been addressed during the co-decision process, when they would have been subject to the full scrutiny of the European Parliament, as well as open to scrutiny by national parliaments. We do not accept that there was a lack of time available to raise substantive issues. As we note above, initial discussions concerning waste streams began as long ago as 1991; the Fifth Environmental Action Programme, adopted in 1993,[32] contained a commitment to regulate WEEE as a priority waste stream; and the Directive took two and a half years to emerge from co-decision.

33. The timetable set out in the WEEE Directive gives the UK until 13 August 2004 for transposition. The discussions in the technical adaptation committee appear to cover a significant range of issues, and until the precise scope of the Directive has been settled there is bound to remain significant uncertainty about the practical implications for industry, regulators and consumers over the coming months. It is regrettable that, as we report, so much remains to be settled. It is impossible for those affected by the Directive to run their businesses without timely decisions on these matters.

34. The Better Regulation Task Force report (see paragraph 86) has recommended better project planning by the Government during transposition. We consider that this advice is equally relevant to planning the work of technical adaptation committees. The Commission should provide a project plan for each specific legislative proposal which demonstrates how the deadlines contained in framework legislation are to be co-ordinated with the work of technical adaptation committees. We recommend that where substantive definitions affecting the operation of the Directive remain to be decided, transposition into national law should not go ahead until the committee has completed its work.

35. Both examples raise questions over what is appropriate for the Commission to delegate to committees: where is the line to be drawn between policy and technical matters?

36. We consider that care should be taken during the co-decision process to ensure that any details which are left for decision by technical adaptation committees are genuinely technical and appropriate for being decided in that way. A clearer line must be drawn between policy objectives and technical content. Besides purely technical aspects, committees may reasonably be used to resolve detailed questions of transposition but should not be relied upon to address policy gaps left behind by poor initial appraisal of the legislative proposal.

37. Where it is felt that more detailed aspects are not appropriate for settling by co-decision, the Commission might nevertheless adopt a more creative approach. For example the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive[33] lays down a framework requiring Member States to issue operating permits for certain installations carrying on industrial activities described in its Annex 1. Permits must include definitions of Best Available Technique (BAT) for the industrial process covered. These definitions were left to be agreed after the framework legislation was agreed by co-decision, but in a far more transparent manner than in the examples just cited. Working groups were organised by the Commission, made up of principal stakeholders, including representatives of Member States and industry. There is also a dedicated website from which relevant documentation can be downloaded for wider consultation.

38. Compared with the implementation of the IPPC Directive, the level of transparency in agreeing waste acceptance criteria and in current work on the WEEE Directive is unacceptable and should be addressed, primarily by the Commission but also by Member States. Where technical adaptation committees are addressing complex issues all stakeholders should be able to follow and comment on developments. The DTI has at last demonstrated that it is possible to do this and that concerns about confidentiality (frequently cited as an excuse for lack of transparency) can be overcome. The Commission stated in their evidence to us that they would look at possibilities for making access to committee information more open. We would urge them to do so, and would remind them of the existing commitment to greater transparency under the Community's Better Regulation initiative[34].

39. Although it is possible to discover that a committee exists and to find its legislative basis, access to information about agendas or decisions is almost non-existent. The Commission should ensure that:

·  Clear objectives are set for committees, before framework legislation is finally agreed, which allow enough time to operate before legislation is transposed in Member States. It should be explicit when these objectives have been achieved.

·  A timetable of meetings, agendas, minutes and other documentation should be placed on the relevant policy web pages of the Commission.

·  Appropriate expertise should be available to the committees, not only in the form of members of committees but also through wider consultation if this is necessary. Information on the members should also be placed in the public domain.

·  Voting patterns of the Member States should be made publicly available, to enable scrutiny by national parliaments.

40. The Government should not agree to framework legislation without a full understanding of the practical implications. Where significant detail is to be delegated to technical adaptation committees this should be made explicit in Explanatory Memoranda and regulatory impact assessments made available to Parliament.

41. We are glad that the DTI have made a start in opening up the committee system by placing informal minutes of the WEEE Directive committee on their website and by explicitly asking for comments by interested parties. We urge the Government to extend this practice to all technical advisory committees. Details of the UK representatives on the committees should in any event be made available.
Box 4

Legislative Consistency: Key Recommendations

The Committee was provided with examples of how lack of clarity in EU legislative instruments and national implementing measures have led to confusion over when an instrument applies and to difficulties with implementation.

·  The Commission should accept a commitment to carry out a review of overlaps in existing legislation during preparation of the waste and recycling strategy.

·  Future waste instruments must take account of existing reporting and data requirements in legislation and seek to ensure compatibility where possible.

·  The Government should promote better linkages between the policy objectives of EU legislative instruments and the means of delivering them.

Definitions

42. As well as the problems which arise when crucial definitions are developed during the EU legislative process, witnesses (particularly the Environment Agency) drew attention to inconsistencies between the definitions contained in different Directives and between practices in different Member States in relation to the same Directive. To a certain extent the Commission has recognised this as a problem in the waste strategy. We feel however that it should conduct a wider review than it currently proposes. This should examine the overlaps in current legislation and the difficulties arising from inconsistent definitions.

43. The particular example cited by the Commission in the waste strategy and referred to also by the Environment Agency in its evidence to the Committee is the definition of recovery of waste in the Waste Framework Directive.

44. The annexes of the Waste Framework Directive contain definitions of disposal and recovery of waste which determine what waste treatment options can be counted towards recycling and recovery. The definitions are not very clear, and have been the focus of litigation in the European Court of Justice. The Court has sought to develop criteria for deciding whether processes constitute recovery or waste disposal[35]. Unfortunately case law has created difficulties for recovering energy from waste in incinerators, as the Court decided that the primary objective of the incineration of waste in a processing plant designed to dispose of waste is waste disposal. The generation of energy as a secondary effect cannot affect the classification of that operation and cannot thus be considered to be waste recovery. The Commission, in a written answer to the European Parliament, subsequently confirmed that this means that energy recovered by this method cannot be counted towards waste recovery targets under the Packaging Waste Directive[36].

45. The waste and recycling strategy acknowledges the difficulties of the definitions in this instance, and work is currently under way to remedy the situation. However, our evidence points to other problems caused by poor definition which also need to be addressed.

46. The Environment Agency is concerned about overlaps between Directives. The Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive[37] and the Waste Framework Directive are given as examples. The first of these deals with the treatment of waste waters, the second with treatment and disposal of waste in a liquid form. Poor definitions in both Directives make it impossible to tell where one Directive stops and the other starts, or whether they overlap. The Agency's witness put it succinctly:

"The battery in the vehicle: is it caught by the End-of-life Vehicles Directive? Is it caught by the forthcoming Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive? Is it caught by the Batteries Directive? Or is it caught by the Hazardous Waste Directive?"[38]

47. This example was used by the Agency to highlight the problems of providing effective delivery mechanisms to comply with the Directives, all of which have subtly different notification, data collection, and reporting requirements. It is often unclear which instrument should apply. If the Agency—as the Competent Authority for England and Wales—does not know which instrument applies, it is unlikely that anyone else does.

48. The Environment Agency felt that these complications arose because the Directives had been agreed separately, without taking account of existing legislation or of what was happening in other policy areas. This lack of co-ordination by the Commission presented real problems in dealing with a number of Directives, each of which had to be addressed separately despite certain similarities. The Agency was currently attempting to improve its arrangements for issuing permits by developing an electronic permit administration system. The Agency stated that in order to benefit fully from such an approach, requirements under new Directives needed to be consistent with previous "templates"[39].

49. The waste and recycling strategy does not raise the issue of definitions in any depth and contains a commitment to carrying out work only on the definitions of recovery and disposal. The examples presented to the Committee showed how poor definitions can lead to significant problems with designing compliance mechanisms.

50. We agree with the Environment Agency that the existing overlaps and inconsistencies between Directives (especially on the definitions of "waste" and "recycling"), as well as inconsistencies of practice between Member States in relation to the same Directive, should be reviewed by the Commission. There should be an explicit commitment to carry out this work as part of the waste and recycling strategy, as it has a major impact on the ability to deliver the objectives of Community legislation in an efficient manner.

51. When new proposals are being developed the Commission should explain how they interact with existing and proposed Community legislation.

52. We support the Environment Agency in its attempts to modernise procedures for issuing permits, and believe that in future the Commission should pay more attention to ensuring that requirements in Directives are, as far as possible, consistent with existing Community legislation. This is a key factor in enabling the regulatory authorities to develop efficient permit systems which take advantage of new technology.
Box 5

Data needed to Support Policy-Making:
Key Recommendations

The evidence pointed to a lack of baseline data on waste, inconsistent assessment of legislation and poor understanding of the implementation of legislation in Member States. This has resulted in poorly drafted Directives which "hope for the best" and are not specifically linked to a measurable outcome.

Our recommendations should lead to:

·  the UK acting as a champion for improving data in the EU, on the basis of best practice;

·  targets and other policy measures in EC legislation which can be justified through publicly available assessments;

·  extended impact assessment carried out at key points in the legislative process;

·  an enhanced role for the European Environment Agency in collating information on implementation in Member States; and

·  non-implementation being dealt with robustly by the Commission.

Baseline data

53. A theme which recurred throughout the inquiry was the difficulty at all stages of assessing the merits of waste proposals, owing to lack of data. From the evidence there are three key problem areas: a lack of consistent baseline data on waste flows for Member States; difficulties in assessing the potential impact of proposed Community legislation; and evaluating the actual impact of legislation once it has been transposed.

54. The Commission has acknowledged in the draft waste strategy the "unsatisfactory status of current statistics about waste generation",[40] and proposed to remedy it through the new Waste Statistics Regulation[41]. This is however a new initiative itself and, although agreed in principle, pilot projects have yet to be carried out to establish exactly how it will work. The idea is to increase the amount of data collected by Member States on waste and to ensure that they are collated in a comparable way, in order to provide a reliable source of information. The Commission emphasises the importance of this Regulation in the waste strategy. However their initial timetable foresees the first set of data being made available to the Commission in 2006, allowing for assessment of trends at the earliest by 2008[42].

55. The new Regulation aims to organise the collection of waste data in a way that ensures consistency of both data and collection methods across Europe. The Regulation is intended to provide baseline information on the production, recycling, re-use and disposal of waste.

56. The Commission also states in the waste strategy document that because of the lack of data "it is not possible at this stage to propose any operational, quantified waste prevention targets based on a comprehensive environmental and economic analysis." This is echoed in the more recently published consultation on the resources strategy. However, both documents indicate that the strategies emerging from consultation and to be published in 2004 will be examining and perhaps suggesting targets for waste prevention.

57. We are concerned that the Commission's attempt to address the lack of data through the Waste Statistics Regulation will not produce meaningful results until at least 2008; and yet significant waste policy strategies are being developed now. There are pressing problems relating to waste which cannot wait until 2008 to be addressed.

58. The Commission recognises that these strategies will require a systematic review of policy. We therefore very much regret that lack of proper data will result in a hiatus in the process. We believe that the Commission has no option but to be guided by its own statement that "it is not possible at this stage to propose any operational, quantified waste prevention targets based on a comprehensive environmental and economic analysis." It should resist the temptation to rush into producing targets based on doubtful evidence.

59. The UK should not wait for EU initiatives on data collection but should seek to develop and improve its own baseline data as quickly as possible.

Impact Assessment

60. Associated with the quality of baseline data is how that information is used, and whether it leads to appropriate legislation. The DTI, commenting on their involvement in developing legislation and setting EU targets, said: "At times we have felt that the target-setting process in the Directives which we are now required to implement . . . has been rather simplistic and . . . resulted in waste diversion targets without a proper examination of what the overall environmental impact of those targets would be"[43]. Dr Caroline Jackson MEP made specific reference to the Landfill Directive[44] (on which she been the rapporteur): in her opinion it was unclear on how recycling targets were to be devised and consequently whether they were likely to have the desired effect[45].

61. The more recent WEEE Directive was subject to amendment only three months after publication. During the co-decision process, problems over the wording of Article 9 were not discovered early enough to be addressed, which led to the institutions issuing a joint statement pledging to amend it as soon as possible[46]. Despite the recognition that there was a problem, it was not until after the legislation had been agreed that action was taken. In our discussion of technical adaptation committees we have already mentioned how definitions relevant to the scope of the WEEE Directive were left to be settled after co-decision (paragraph 25). By then some firms (who had conscientiously tried to be ahead of the game) had lost money[47].

62. A Commission-wide initiative to improve the quality of regulation was promoted in 2000 in a White Paper on Governance,[48] which has resulted in Commission guidelines for impact assessment. We welcome these. These draw together previous work done in assessing costs and impacts on business, and aim to subject all major Community policies to social, economic and environmental impact assessment. The Commission is committed to producing preliminary impact assessments for all proposals presented from the beginning 2004.
Box 6

Impact Assessment

Extract from UK Cabinet Office Guidelines

When to prepare a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA)

·  Prepare an initial RIA as soon as you know that the European Commission is thinking about a new proposal.

·  Develop this into a partial RIA when the Commission produces its proposal. You will have to include this with Ministerial correspondence seeking collective agreement on the negotiating line and the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to the UK Parliament, as well as the formal consultation document.

·  Update your partial RIA when Council or the European Parliament put forward amendments.

·  Refocus your RIA when you are at the transposition stage to include options for implementation.

Whether you are working on EU or other international proposals, all stages of your RIA should be used to inform the negotiations as well as in the UK clearance/scrutiny process.

Extract from Commission "Internal guidelines on the new impact assessment procedure"

The impact assessment process has two stages:

·  a filtering exercise based on a short preliminary assessment of all proposals presented in the context of the Annual Policy Strategy or the Work Programme of the Commission

·  an extended assessment of selected proposals.

The impact assessment procedure covers:

·  regulatory proposals such as Decisions, Directives and Regulations

·  non-regulatory proposals that have an economic, social or environmental impact.

These include proposals such as white papers, expenditure programmes, communications on policy orientations and negotiating guidelines for international agreements.

63. The Commission's "extended impact assessment" process is currently the subject of pilot studies, including one on the proposed revision of the Batteries Directive[49]. Responding to questions about the Batteries Directive pilot process, Mr Grant Lawrence, from the Commission (DG Environment), stated that they "were not finding it easy" and one of the major problems was that the documents were simply too long[50].

64. Since the Committee took evidence, the results of another pilot study has been published. This was carried out on a proposal to revise the Groundwater Directive. It consists of an economic appraisal and a choice of policy responses, with the Commission's preferred option indicated. Although we are not in a position to comment on the merits of the options presented in the impact assessment, we believe that the process of presenting different scenarios based on assessment is a positive step forward and provides encouraging evidence that the new impact assessment process is beginning to yield benefits.

65. As proposals move through the legislative process they undergo significant changes, particularly from amendments by MEPs and during conciliation[51], in which texts are negotiated intensively behind closed doors. The relevance of an initial impact assessment may in consequence be compromised. To counter this, both the Commission and some MEPs believe that impact assessment should also be carried out on major amendments by the European Parliament. Dr Jackson felt that the ability to propose changes without justifying them was "power without responsibility", citing the ratcheting-up of targets in the Packaging Waste Directive as an example. Mr Grant Lawrence stated that the Commission agreed that all the institutions should carry out some form of assessment of proposals, but stressed that it was still in the early stages of development[52].

66. An inter-institutional agreement[53] on Better Regulation was agreed at the Thessaloniki Council in June 2003, which states that "Where the co-decision procedure applies the European Parliament and Council may, on the basis of jointly defined criteria and procedures, have impact assessments undertaken prior to the adoption of any substantial amendment, either at first reading, or conciliation"[54]. Although this does not actually commit the institutions to preparing impact assessments, it does provide a clear indication that such a process would be valuable, both in the early stages of legislative development and during the conciliation stage. There is a commitment, however, for the institutions to "carry out an assessment of their respective experiences and consider the possibility of establishing a common methodology"[55].

67. We agree that the European Parliament and the Council should undertake impact assessment of significant amendments to legislative proposals. We welcome the inter-institutional agreement on impact assessment, which acknowledges the value of co-operation. We would encourage further work to be done on how this system can be made to work in practice. Although the Commission has some experience of conducting assessments it appears that this is an area which will require substantial further investment in expertise.

68. The UK has significant experience in preparing regulatory impact assessments and should act to champion the process in the EU institutions.

69. The origin of any future targets set by the Commission should be clearly explained and justified in the impact assessment process.

Reporting Requirements

70. Attention was also drawn to the lack of reporting requirements once EU legislation has been implemented by Member States, which again leads to a paucity of data with which to assess the success of legislation in reaching its objectives. The Commission itself has recognised that "the current data and reporting system is only giving us an approximate view of the state of the European environment and the associated socio-economic trends and an incomplete picture of the transposition and implementation of EU environmental legislation"[56].

71. The Commission stated in oral evidence that it used three main sources of information to judge whether or not a text had been implemented—the information supplied by Member States under the reporting requirements contained in each Directive; the European Environment Agency; and the European Statistical Office[57]. The present reporting requirements have recently been criticised in a report of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament,[58] which found that "Member States are still failing to meet their basic obligations to report by a due date to the Commission". The latest report by the Commission appears to confirm this, as none of the Member States met the deadline for submitting information[59]. Dr Jackson felt that there had been little response within the Commission to the European Parliament's criticism so far. Mr Grant Lawrence said that as part of the current work on waste the situation on reporting would be looked into and the Directive made more robust[60].

72. We agree with the European Parliament's assessment that reporting is not functioning in a manner which allows the Commission to make accurate assessments of the state of implementation in Member States. We strongly encourage the Commission to accept the changes recommended in the Parliament's report as part of its review of waste policy, with a view to securing:

·  harmonised information;

·  greater transparency and access to activities and publications on the website; and

·  a more robust approach to following up non-reporting.

The role of the European Environment Agency

73. The European Environment Agency (EEA) became operational in 1993; its objectives are set out in Regulation 1210/1990 (amended by Regulation 933/1999): "To provide the Community and the Member States with the objective information necessary for framing and implementing sound and effective environmental policies".

74. The European Environment Agency was seen by several of our witnesses as a suitable candidate for taking on a greater role in enforcement. Industry in particular felt that it should have an inspection role to ensure consistency of application across the Member States. However, the Commission felt that although the EEA had a role in supplying information and data, the decision on whether a Member State is in breach of compliance should remain with the Commission[61].

The Commission is currently evaluating the performance of the Agency, and a report into its operation was recently completed by consultants[62]. The report highlights the relatively recent establishment of the Agency and the rapidly changing policy approach of the Commission as reasons why the original mandate of the Agency might need to be refined. The report sets out different options for the Agency—whether it should be more proactive or more of an observer. Based on the evidence we have received, we favour a more proactive role for the Agency, to enable it to monitor more closely the implementation of legislation in Member States. This is consistent with its current role of providing the information necessary for sound policy-making.

75. We recommend that one of the outcomes of the Commission's review of the European Environment Agency should be a clear acknowledgment of the Commission's duty to ensure that the Agency is able to work with data which are complete and consistent across the Union and to ensure full cooperation from all Member States. This is essential to the Agency's task of promoting awareness, backed by reliable comparisons, of the state of the environment across the European Union.

76. We would not, however, go as far as recommending that the Agency be given inspection, let alone enforcement, responsibilities.
Box 7

The UK's Influence on EU Policy-Making:
Key Recommendations

The Committee saw little evidence to support the claims by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry that the Government was having a major influence in driving strategic thinking on EU waste policy. The confusion apparent in dealing with waste policy in the UK does not provide a strong position from which to represent the UK interest in EU negotiations.

Following the recommendations in the Better Regulation Task Force report, which we fully endorse, the UK needs to take a more co-ordinated approach to implementing waste Directives.

·  The UK must act at the strategic level in EU policy development, not just react to legislative proposals as they emerge from the Commission.

·  A project planning approach should be adopted for implementation.

·  The Environment Agency (England and Wales) should be much more closely involved in the early stages of developing and negotiating EU legislation.

·  Local authorities should act proactively and share best practice.

·  A single waste policy unit should be established within Government to improve collective working and to establish clear lines of accountability.

Conduct of negotiations in Brussels

77. Central government has responsibility for implementation of international protocols, negotiating EU waste legislation and overall UK waste strategy. Waste policy within the UK is devolved and the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly have responsibility for ensuring that environmental policies are in place to deliver waste commitments stemming from the UK strategy and international commitments. At the EU level negotiation in Council is usually carried out by the Minister from the lead Department in central government, which for waste policy is Defra or the DTI, depending on the particular dossier.

78. Defra officials were keen to impress on the Committee that they did play a significant role during the development of waste legislation at the EU stage. In their written submission they stated that "The UK has been participating in developing policy on IPP at European level and is keen to see an overall vision developed to show how it can help deliver major EC environmental strategies and enable decisions to be made about priorities"[63]. The written evidence was sent as a joint submission with the DTI who, in reply to further questions on the Government's role on developing EU strategy, stated that the evidence was "intended to mean that the UK has very significantly influenced existing legislation"[64].

79. In their evidence the DTI and Defra cited examples of how they had responded constructively to EU initiatives through practical implementation of Community legislation; they found it less easy to provide instances of the UK providing strategic direction in Brussels. The DTI explained how they were responding to EU initiatives and legislation "as a result of the Landfill Directive and other Regulations"[65]. Neither Department provided significant evidence of creative thinking by the Government in developing waste strategy further or in driving policy at an EU level.

80. The waste industry claimed that the UK was not engaged in proactively developing environmental strategies in the same way as other Member States[66]. The Commission, although it had words of praise for the UK's approach to giving effect to EC Directives, felt that it was not an active participant in the initial strategic thinking in the way some other Member States were[67].

81. In responding to specific questions on the waste and recycling strategy the DTI felt that it was not their responsibility to take a position, referring to Defra as taking the lead generally on waste[68]. This may be technically true but we believe it highlights the difficulty of coordinating the activities of separate departments in order to bring about a coherent overview and strategic direction to policy.

82. Waste is subject to Qualified Majority Voting in the Council, so it is not always possible for the Government to guarantee the best outcome for the UK. In a Union of 25 Member States, after enlargement, it will be even more important for the UK to negotiate effectively. This means engaging early on in the development in policy.

83. It was also unclear how well the Government had analysed UK performance compared with that of other Member States. Defra felt that learning from other Member States' experience was valuable and "we certainly do what we can to keep the radar directed towards north European practice"[69]. This does not imply a systematic study, and again the Department's statement related to consistent implementation rather than to seeking to develop a strategic waste policy with the aim of influencing Community thinking.

84. The Government do not provide convincing evidence of a strategic approach to EU waste policy, although they appear to have had some success in developing implementation. Currently it appears that the Government's position is essentially reactive. Without a clear idea of how EU policy should develop we believe that the Government are at a severe disadvantage in representing the interests of the UK during negotiations.

Transposition and Implementation

85. There was general agreement among witnesses that delayed implementation of Directives could result in uncertainly for industry and regulators. Both industry and the Environment Agency felt that this led to a lack of investment confidence and missed opportunities in developing new technology. We have already discussed the blurring of the final stages of the EU process and transposition at the national level in relation to technical adaptation committees (paragraphs 22-24). We also received criticism from various witnesses of the Government's approach to implementing Directives. The Commission recently published its latest report on the implementation of waste legislation across the EU[70]. The record for the UK is not impressive, in so far as the Commission has five cases against the UK pending in the European Court for failure to implement Directives on time—the second highest number of such cases in the Community.

86. During the inquiry the Better Regulation Task Force published their own report on implementing European environmental legislation[71]. They focused in particular on the WEEE and End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directives, which are currently being transposed. Their report found similar shortcomings in the transposition process as highlighted by our witnesses and made some highly pertinent recommendations, which our findings reinforce.

Project planning

87. The DTI are leading on implementation of the ELV and WEEE Directives, and are carrying out consultations. Unfortunately one of the first questions asked in the consultation on the WEEE Directive is whether its objectives are realistic. It is too late to be asking questions about the Directive's objectives at the implementation stage; an impact assessment undertaken at the preliminary proposal stages should have addressed these questions. We believe that this highlights the need for the Government to define clearly the steps that should be taken during the EU process and subsequent implementation.

88. The Better Regulation Task Force (BRTF) report was carried out in response to concerns that the ELV and WEEE Directives might result in yet another late or poorly thought out implementation. A number of recommendations were made on adopting a project planning approach to implementation. We fully endorse those recommendations. The Environment Agency's evidence included the results of an analysis of the implementation of several Directives. Both the Agency's analysis and the BRTF report provide guidelines on factors which need to be taken into account in order to achieve a successful implementation process. We reproduce the Task Force's recommendations below.
Box 8

Project planning: Recommendations of the Better Regulation Task Force

·  When launching new legislative initiatives, the Government should publish a very short summary of its underlying objectives, set in the context of overall policy in the area. This should include its criteria for judging the contribution this new legislation will make to achieving its objectives, and how this contribution will be measured.

·  From the earliest stage of developing waste policy and implementing new waste legislation, the Government should draw on the advice of a range of experts from outside Government. This includes seconding experts into Departments to develop policy alongside officials.

·  The Government should adopt a project planning approach to introducing new legislation. Project plans should be published so that stakeholders know what will happen and when in implementing new legislation.

·  The Government should publish an analysis of progress with implementing the ELV and WEEE Directives across the EU, showing what decisions Member States have reached on key issues of concern to the UK. This should be updated on a regular basis.

·  The Government should commit itself to giving the Environment Agency the means to raise the necessary resources to take on the new role of enforcing the ELV and WEEE Regulations, or provide them directly.

·  DTI, Defra and the Environment Agency should establish a single website that brings together all relevant information on the ELV and WEEE Directives, including that which is currently held separately on each Department's home sites.

Role of the Environment Agency

89. The Environment Agency was set up as a non-departmental public body by the Environment Act 1995. The Agency is the waste regulation authority for England and Wales, and is sponsored by Defra and the National Assembly for Wales.

90. The Environment Agency made it clear in their evidence that they felt that they could play a useful role in the early stages of legislative development. Many of the issues raised during our inquiry have centred around the need for a better understanding of the capacity to implement legislative objectives during EU policy making, and the need for the Government to take a more strategic approach in the EU. The Agency could provide the necessary information and support the Government in EU negotiations. To that end the Agency and Defra have recently agreed a concordat which sets out how the Agency should be involved in EU policy development. The concordat replaces a "Memorandum of Understanding between the Department and the Agency on the handling of international activities", dating from 1997.

Box 9

Extract from Environment Agency and Defra concordat

Legislative developments are those which are specifically aimed at establishing new or revised EU legislation. Agenda-setting measures are those at a more formative stage - e.g. the production of Green or White papers - which will often in turn lead to legislative developments.

In both areas Defra and the Agency have an important role to play in the early influencing of the EU institutions' thinking. Defra should alert the Agency as early as possible to developments in areas relevant to its functions and expertise, and where possible senior Agency personnel should be involved, from a strategic perspective, in initial discussions. Likewise the Agency should inform Defra where it becomes aware of policy proposals, including apparently technical issues which may have wider policy ramifications.

·  Defra will normally lead in policy negotiations, or in groups (even if supposedly "technical") where the main interest is policy matters. The Agency may be well placed to support Defra if there is likely to be substantive discussion of matters such as the practicalities of implementation, or the likelihood of a measure achieving its desired outcomes.

·  The Agency would attend technical groups which relate entirely, or nearly so, to its areas of expertise and responsibility.

·  Defra and the Agency should consider whether joint attendance would enhance the quality of a UK delegation, and provide opportunities for effective joined-up influencing based on complementary skills and experience.

91. The Environment Agency wishes, not unreasonably, to be involved continuously in negotiations in Brussels. For this it needs the ability to be proactive rather than just responding to requests from Government departments for information. We believe that this is crucial to enhancing the UK's ability to influence proposals at an early stage. We wish to see the provisions in the recently agreed concordat working towards this end.

92. The Government should therefore acknowledge that it has a duty to listen to and take into account the advice of the Agency, as the statutory regulator, and should be prepared to justify its own decisions. The Agency, for its part, must recognise that ultimately it is the Government who have to take responsibility for policy decisions.

93. We note that the Agency is involved in technical adaptation committee negotiations in some cases and fully endorse this arrangement. However, to improve transparency it should be made clear which committees the UK has an active role in and from which department UK representatives on the committees are drawn.

94. At the same time the DTI leads on certain proposals and the Agency stated that "progress has not been as fast as we would have liked" in reaching a similar agreement[72]. We consider it essential that on waste matters where DTI is the lead department the Environment Agency should be listened to and involved in negotiations on exactly the same basis as it should be where Defra is in the lead. We recommend that the DTI should draw up a concordat with the Agency similar to the one negotiated with Defra. Both concordats should recognise the distinct functions of Government departments, the Agency and industry.

95. The underlying reason for a concordat was to create a structured and strategic approach to negotiations. A concordat can only go so far in achieving this, and we reinforce our view that, at the outset, emphasis must be placed on the objective to be achieved and the practicalities of how the legislation is to be implemented. Secondly, there is a question of resources. The Government should recognise that the Environment Agency will need additional staff, with appropriate specialist skills, to carry out its responsibilities effectively. We recommend that the Government should as a matter of priority consider how the Agency can be provided with the resources and expertise not only to carry out its increasing regulatory functions in regard to waste, but also to enable it to be proactive in the early stages of policy development.

Devolved and local government

96. We have not considered the role of the devolved administrations in this report. The Scottish Parliament is currently undertaking an investigation into waste policy. We received evidence from the Local Government Association (LGA) on the activities of local authorities, who have responsibility for waste management functions.

97. Evidence from the LGA focused on the need for early engagement by central government with the EU, based on an awareness of the capacity of local government to carry out its part in the agreed tasks. The LGA argued that once legislation had been agreed, the Government should inform local authorities in good time so that they could put the necessary infrastructure in place. The "fridge mountain" was cited as the classic example of a failure in this regard. It did not result from poor legislation from Brussels per se, but reflected a mistaken understanding of the scope of the relevant Regulation[73].
Box 10

Disposal of Refrigerators: conclusions of the House of Commons Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs Committee, 4th Report (2001-02)

"Whilst the European Commission must accept some blame for lack of clarity, the overwhelming responsibility for mishandling the implementation of Regulation 2037/2000 lies with Government. Government officials initially made a judgement that insulating foam within fridges fell under Article 16(3) not Article 16(2); they argued about the semantics of the phrase 'if practicable' when in fact the practicality of dealing with the foam was abundantly demonstrated by practice in other European countries ; they were unaware of the implications of Article 11 for exports of fridges from the UK, and therefore for 'take back' schemes; despite requesting clarification on so many occasions they failed to resolve the issues; they apparently ignored or reacted very slowly to a host of warnings from interested parties; and despite those warnings and legal advice suggesting the Regulation would be taken to apply to foam insulations they failed to put in place contingency plans to cope with the problem."[74]

 

98. The LGA made it clear that the disparate nature of local authority views made it difficult for the Association to speak with a single voice in the way the Environment Agency was able to do. However, a single point of information and contact within central government and a "longer term vision"[75] would facilitate early communication. At the same time the LGA was engaged in its own dialogue with the Commission and MEPs, as well as with other local authorities across the EU.

99. We agree that better collective working in Government is certainly necessary; but we also feel that local authorities themselves need to be more proactive in anticipating EU policies and their consequences. For instance, when the Committee was taking evidence from the LGA, the Association drew attention to press reports of what they claimed was a new and previously unrecognised problem for local authorities—the implications of having to collect and dispose of banned garden chemicals[76]. Whilst we note the Association's concerns, we find it difficult to believe that this new requirement came completely out of the blue. But even if it did, it suggests to us some failure on the part of the LGA to identify the implications for its members of a proposal which we believe was adequately publicised at the time of its adoption. Certainly we feel that the Association did at least have the opportunity to discover what was happening and that it is not reasonable to place all the blame on the Government.

100. There are examples of proactive work being undertaken at the local level, and we encourage local authorities to share the task of developing best practice. Two examples are set out in the boxes.

Box 11

Example of good practice: the WEEE Directive

The European Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) puts the responsibility for the collection, recycling and disposal of these items firmly onto the producer and retailer. Currently, however, this responsibility partly falls on local authorities and waste collection companies, which provide recycling and disposal facilities via their civic amenity sites and who often provide doorstep collection systems for large household appliances. Recycling these items can contribute significantly to a local authority's recycling targets and the new Directive provides a good opportunity to increase this. With the infrastructure already in place it makes sense for local authorities to work with producers and retailers to provide future facilities for collection and recycling.

A good example of this is already taking place in Peterborough. The City Council has teamed up with the Dixon Group, the Kingfisher Group, the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development (UK CEED), the Environment Agency and a number of other private and public sector organisations to identify best practice options for collecting, processing, remanufacturing and recycling WEEE items. As part of the new scheme Peterborough City Council has been awarded £266,000 by Defra from the Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund for local authorities to establish WEEE reprocessing facility. The scheme will provide a separate collection service for old electrical items from domestic properties and retail stores. The appliances will either be repaired and sold into the re-use market, or disassembled for reprocessing and remanufacture into new products.

The scheme will also provide funding for training and to act as a catalyst for the community to help the unemployed, disadvantaged people, those on low incomes, people with learning difficulties and ethnic minorities. The reprocessing plant will have a public viewing area, a community shop and classrooms so that it will also provide an education facility for local schools and the community.

Box 12

Example of good practice: the Integra Project

In 1993 Hampshire County Council and 13 district councils undertook a county wide public consultation process to take account of the views of Hampshire residents on how to deal with the waste problem. Links were also established within a wider network including Parish Councillors, community groups and the education sector. The consultation resulted in the adoption of an integrated waste management strategy, known as Project Integra, by the 11 district councils of Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton unitary authorities, Hampshire County Council, and the private waste contractor Hampshire Waste Services.

Currently Project Integra has achieved a collective recycling rate of over 22 per cent with over 95 per cent of Hampshire's households having access to a kerbside collection of recyclables.

Developments have been made in terms of infrastructure with the provision of two Materials Recovery Facilities in Portsmouth and Alton, three centralised composting sites, twenty-six household waste recycling centres and three planned energy recovery incinerators, the first of which was opened in September 2003. Project Integra's long term aim is to achieve 40% recycling in the partnership by 2005/06. To help achieve this, funding of over £5 million from Defra will go towards providing additional kerbside collection schemes and increased green waste processing capacity.

The effective delivery of the waste strategy has required high levels of cooperation between the authorities. This has been achieved by the development of joint agreements that set out the principles of the respective local authorities' responsibilities and obligations supported by all Project Integra partners. This includes a formal agreement to share income and risks from the sale of recyclables and a joint promotional campaign focusing on waste minimisation and recycling. In 1999 Project Integra was awarded Beacon Council status by the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

101. Defra acknowledged in its evidence that since waste Directives were of particular significance to local authorities, LGA representatives should be brought in at an earlier stage, and were seeking to develop links for this purpose. We believe that this should be put into effect sooner rather than later. The Commission's strategies on waste point to the possibility of greater national flexibility in implementing overall EU objectives, for example by setting recycling targets at the Community level but with tradable national obligations. For the UK fully to take advantage of this change in approach a clear understanding of the capacity of local authorities to deliver is crucial. It does, however, place a greater onus on the local authorities themselves to be more proactive in assessing their own capacities and perhaps also in developing their own targets and policy responses.

102. We believe that better communication between the Government and local authorities can be assisted through the creation of a single point of information and consultation on waste policy.

103. Financing new commitments was a major concern of the LGA, and we agree that it should be made much clearer what the responsibilities were likely to be for local authorities as early as possible. To facilitate this, initial regulatory impact assessments by the Government should show how responsibilities will be divided between local authorities, central government and other agencies; the percentages of the overall cost represented by this breakdown; from which budget lines local authorities are expected to meet their shares; and whether extra money is likely to be provided.

Co-ordination of Government

104. From the evidence received by the Committee it is clear that the Government need to develop more strategic thinking, leading to clear and achievable objectives at the EU level, and at the national level to establish a clear process of implementation.

105. We believe that the current split of responsibility between departments without a clear strategic lead results in a lack of accountability and direction. Also, industry expects the Government to speak with one voice. A single waste policy unit could provide strategic leadership on policy development and a single source of information for stakeholders. As Defra is currently responsible for overall waste policy, it would seem sensible for such a unit to be based within this Department and report to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We therefore recommend that an inter-departmental group on waste policy, reporting to the Environment Secretary, should be set up as soon as possible.

106. The current placing of consultations and general information on disparate websites is confusing to stakeholders and the public. We therefore recommend that the inter-departmental group is backed by a single government website containing all matters relating to waste management, together with links to European Commission and other relevant sites. Whilst we look to Defra to take the lead in setting up and maintaining this website, we would expect it to have due regard to the responsibilities of DTI, other relevant departments and the devolved administrations.

107. In the interests of transparency, all Explanatory Memoranda on relevant EU documents sent to Parliament should also be placed on this website.

Box 13

The Commission's Waste and Recycling Strategy
Key Requirements for Reform

The Commission's waste and recycling strategy identifies areas of policy in need of reform. We believe that in addition this strategy should focus more clearly on issues of process, which affect the quality of legislation. The key requirements are:

·  waste policy placed in the context of reconciling sustainable development and economic development;

·  clear long term objectives;

·  a systematic approach to identifying weaknesses in developing and implementing legislation, co-ordinated by the Commission; and

·  unambiguous framework legislation, which provides achievable steps towards the long term objectives set in the Strategies.

Will the Commission's strategy achieve its objectives?

108. The Commission is seeking to create a comprehensive and consistent policy on waste prevention and recycling. It sees this as being embedded within the overall objective of resource efficiency. It is developing new tools and methodologies for carrying out this work, for example through the Communication on Integrated Product Policy.

109. Our inquiry has attempted to find out whether the process of developing legislation, as currently applied to waste policy, has had an impact on the quality of legislation and whether the process needs to be changed in order to respond effectively to the Commission's ambitious agenda.

110. The strategy on waste and recycling places considerable emphasis on creating incentives to the public and business to pursue waste prevention. In order to do this, Community legislation must be framed in a way which provides these incentives. From the evidence received from our witnesses we are not convinced that waste legislation has been developed in a manner which provides the steps necessary to achieve longer term objectives. This criticism does not apply simply to earlier legislation. The Better Regulation Task Force report argues that the recently agreed producer responsibility Directives do not provide correct incentives for the cultural change necessary to achieve their objectives. In this the Task Force is not referring just to the domestic implementation process but to the Directives themselves.

111. The Commission states that the waste and recycling strategy is "to open a discussion about strategic options for the further development of Community policy on waste prevention and recycling [rather] than giving a full analysis of waste management policy at all levels. This would go beyond the role and available resources of the Commission"[77].

112. We believe that sound legislation is essential to the realisation of the Commission's strategy on waste. In our view this requires a review to be made of how waste legislation has been developed in the past. The Landfill Directive is mentioned specifically in the waste strategy as a driver "for the development of waste management policies at national level during the current decade, including efforts to promote the diversion of waste towards material recycling and biological treatments"[78]. During the inquiry we have identified weaknesses in the development of that Directive, for example a lack of initial analysis when devising targets and a poor approach to implementation. The inquiry has also highlighted inadequacies with the current system of reviewing implementation, which will make it extremely difficult for the Commission to assess the effect of the Directive. We do not believe that this is an appropriate way to drive forward Community waste policy. A proper review of the policy-making and legislative process is fundamental to developing appropriate waste legislation in future.

113. We conclude that significant improvement can be made to the policy-making process at the EU and national level. The Commission should commit itself to reviewing the operation of the EU legislative process as it applies to waste.


20   Q 49 Back

21   Implementation of Community Waste Legislation - Period 1998-2000 (COM(03) 250) Back

22   ibid. at p 4 Back

23   See European Union Committee, 3rd Report (1998-99): Delegation of Powers to the Commission: Reforming Comitology, (HL 23); and European Union Committee, 31st Report (2002-03): Reforming Comitology (HL 135) Back

24   EUC, 3rd Report (1998-99) op citBack

25   For example: Report from the Commission on the working of the committees during 2001 (COM(2002) 733 final) Back

26   Q 108 Back

27   p 28 Back

28   Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfilling of waste Back

29   Co-disposal is a common practice in the UK, in which hazardous and non-hazardous wastes are mixed together Back

30   Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) Back

31   Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment Back

32   Fifth Environmental Action Programme, OJ C138 (17 May 1993) Back

33   Directive 1996/61/EC Back

34   See, for example, the Commission White Paper on European Governance (COM(2001) 428) Back

35   See cases C-6/00, C-228/00 and C-458/00 Back

36   Written Question E-0790/03 Back

37   Directive 1991/271/EEC concerning urban waste water treatment, OJ L135 (21 May 1991) Back

38   Q 20 Back

39   Q 23 Back

40   Communication: Towards a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (COM(2003) 301 final), at p 23 Back

41   Regulation (EC) No 2150/2002 Back

42   ibid., at p 23 Back

43   Q 119 Back

44   Directive 1999/31/EC on the Landfill of Waste Back

45   Q 75 Back

46   ENDS Environment Daily, Issue 1435, 2 May 2003 Back

47   See the findings of the Better Regulation Task Force (paragraph 86) Back

48   COM(2001) 428 Back

49   COM(2003) 723 final Back

50   Q 291 Back

51   See Box 1 Back

52   QQ 292-93 Back

53   An agreement between the European Parliament, Council and Commission Back

54   2003/2131 (ACI) Back

55   Inter-institutional agreement on Better Law-making, para. 25 Back

56   Communication on the sixth environment action plan of the European Community (COM(2001) 31 final), at p 64 Back

57   Q 280 Back

58   Report on standardising and rationalising reports on implementation of directives on the environment, A5-0259/2002 Back

59   Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the implementation of community waste legislation for the period 1998-2000 (COM(2003) 250 final) Back

60   Q 280 Back

61   Q 281 Back

62   Evaluation of the European Environment Agency, an IEEP/EIPA study, August 2002

http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/pubs/eea_a_en.pdf Back

63   at p 53 Back

64   Q 121 Back

65   Q 107 Back

66   Q 80 Back

67   Q 251 Back

68   Q 110 Back

69   Q 165 Back

70   Report on the implementation of community waste legislation (COM(2003) 250 final) Back

71   Environmental Regulation: Getting the Message Across, July 2003 Back

72   Q 8 Back

73   Q 206 Back

74   Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, 4th Report (2001-02): Disposal of Refrigerators (HC 673) Back

75   Q 205 Back

76   Q 197 Back

77   Commission Communication: Towards a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (COM(2003) 301), at p 12 Back

78   ibid., at p 14 Back


 
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