18 NOVEMBER 2003
By the Select Committee appointed to consider European
Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.
EUROPEAN UNION WASTE MANAGEMENT POLICY
10113/03 Communication from the Commission: Towards
a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste (COM (03) 301)
10801/03 Communication from the Commission: Integrated
product policybuilding on environmental life cycle thinking
(COM (03) 302)
13239/03 Communication from the Commission:
Towards a thematic strategy on the sustainable use of natural
resources (COM (03) 572)
PART 1: SUMMARY OF THE REPORT
i. The European Commission has been seeking to
develop a comprehensive and consistent policy on waste prevention
and recycling within an overall objective of resource efficiency.
Three initiatives form the basis of the Commission's future work
in this area:
· a consultation
exercise on strategy for the prevention and recycling of waste;
· a Communication
which sets out the Commission's thinking on an integrated product
· a consultation
exercise on strategy for the sustainable use of natural resources.
ii. The aim of the Committee's inquiry has been
to review current processes for developing Community legislation
in the waste policy field and the impact they have had on the
quality of legislation. The report considers whether implementation
of the Commission's ambitious agenda requires changes to be made
to these processes.
iii. In the Committee's view, the European Union
has in the past tended to base policy on inadequate evidence and
data, leaving significant details to be agreed behind closed doors
after framework legislation has been adopted.
iv. Inconsistent definitions (e.g. of "waste"
and "recycling"), confusing overlaps between Directives
and inconsistent practices between different Member States in
relation to the same Directive need to be reviewed.
v. The Committee considers that placing waste
in an overall context of sustainable use of natural resources
is a rational approach, but that far better information is needed
from which to develop workable, effective and proportionate legislative
instruments in future.
vi. Once EU legislation has been implemented,
it should be monitored and evaluated in detail to find out whether
it is having the desired effect. The Commission should make greater
use of the European Environment Agency for collating data and
ensure that Member States provide the Agency with sound and consistent
data, which are essential to the proper discharge of its functions.
vii. The UK has a poor record in influencing
EU waste policy. It needs to operate at a more strategic level.
It should initiate and innovate, not just react passively to legislative
proposals from the Commission. This calls for a far greater level
of collective working within Government, overseen and co-ordinated
by a dedicated unit at the centre with the task of ensuring clear
accountability for successes and failures.
viii. The crucial interaction between central
and local government in this field needs to be better recognised
ix. The report concludes that:
improvements can be made to the policy-making process at the Community
and national level;
Commission should review the operation of the EU legislative process
as it applies to waste; and
results of this review must be fed into current consultations
on Community strategies for waste management and recycling and
sustainable use of natural resources.