December 17, 2014 / 11:17 AM / 3 years ago

Italy says will oppose EU plans to scrap environment law

* Eleven member states signed letter opposing withdrawal

* European Commission has said will listen

By Francesco Guarascio and Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Plans by European policymakers to scrap a draft EU law on air quality and waste send a "negative signal" about Europe's ambition to curb climate change and governments will challenge them, the Italian environment minister said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the European Commission laid out its legislative plans for 2015, saying it would focus on priorities such as jobs and economic growth. At the same time, it planned to withdraw some proposals made by the previous EU executive, including on improving air quality and cutting waste.

Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti of Italy, holder of the rotating EU presidency, was one of 11 EU ministers who signed a letter to the Commission saying they opposed plans to tear up environmental legislation. He told journalists the opposition would continue.

Sections of innovative industry, such as electrical goods maker Philips, have also voiced support for laws to shift to an economy based more on recycling and reduced waste.

Galletti has just returned to Brussels from U.N. talks in Lima, which made modest progress towards a new global deal on climate change, meant to be reached in Paris at the end of 2015.

Italy has major problems with garbage disposal, and Galletti said the withdrawal of the draft law on waste in particular "would be contrary to what we did in Lima".

"It would certainly not help the road to Paris, because in that package there are measures that contribute to reducing CO2 and show the engagement of European countries," he said.

Frans Timmermans, first vice-president in charge of better regulation, said the Commission was withdrawing the environmental laws to put forward more effective legislation, but critics say there is no logic in starting an already lengthy process from scratch.

The Commission also said it would take on board the view of the European Council of member states and the European Parliament. (Editing by Dale Hudson)

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