The Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change Dr Jose Herrera participated in the EU Council Ministerial Meeting for Environment Ministers held in Luxembourg. This was the last Environment Council meeting of the Dutch Presidency and presented Ministers the opportunity to address various issues, including the Circular Economy Action Plan, the ratification of the Paris Agreement and the amendment for a review of the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
In the margins of the meeting, Minister Herrera met the Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete, the Commission Director General for the Environment Daniel Calleja Crespo, as well as the Commission Director General for Climate Action Jos Delbeke.
Circular Economy Action Plan Malta welcomed the Council conclusions on the Circular Economy Action Plan, which were prepared by the Dutch Presidency. Minister Herrera reiterated Malta’s support for the principles of the Circular Economy and the need to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the EU economy for as long as possible, whilst minimising the generation of waste.
The Minister highlighted that, although effective waste management is pivotal to ensure the success of the circular economy, it is crucial that all the stages of the value chain are given equal importance in order to successfully close the loop. Malta also highlighted the added value of more efficient use of scarce resources, such as water.
Minister Herrera pointed out that the different starting points and the realities and challenges that Member States face in shifting towards a more circular economy should be duly taken into account at the European level. The Minister explained that Malta’s particular geographical circumstances and lack of economies of scale makes it highly dependent on shipments of waste both within and outside the Union, which require complex logistical and market mechanisms to ensure Malta is able to contribute to a Circular Economy in an affordable manner.
The Minister stated that Malta looks forward to future developments and work in this area on the basis of the Circular Economy Action Plan.
EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) Minister Herrera congratulated the Dutch Presidency on the developments made on this dossier. He stated that the most important aspect which Malta can adhere to is the clear reinforcement that the revision of the ETS Directive needs to remain in line with the guidance set out in the 2014 European Council conclusions.
Minister Herrera said that in Malta’s case, significant importance is attached to the predetermination of the distribution of the overall cap between allowances to be auctioned and free allowances.
While welcoming the concept of an Innovation Fund as part of the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Minister said that the Innovation Fund should not be restricted only to installations that fall within the scheme, but rather it should be open for projects which contribute towards the objective and aim of the Emissions Trading Scheme, and that all Member States should be able to access funds in the context of carbon-reducing measures within the 2030 climate package.
Ratification of the Paris Agreement Minister Herrera thanked the Dutch Presidency for taking stock of the different domestic processes which needed to be respected in all the different Member States for national ratification of the Paris Agreement to occur.
Malta considers it important that the European Union and its Member States send a clear message on their readiness to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Source: medNews