BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European environment ministers opposed plans on Wednesday from the EU executive to scrap draft laws on waste and air quality, saying they sent a “negative signal” about Europe’s ambition to curb climate change and were at odds with a push for growth.
The European Commission on Tuesday laid out its legislative plans for 2015 with a promise to focus on priorities such as jobs and boosting the economy.
As part of a drive to cut red tape, it plans to withdraw some proposals made by the previous EU executive, including on air quality and cutting waste.
Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti of Italy, holder of the rotating EU presidency, summing up a debate of the 28 member states, said a majority of ministers believed legislation on waste was an “absolute priority”.
Eleven environment ministers have written to the Commission voicing their concern, including Germany as well as Italy, which has spent much of its six months at the helm working on the waste package.
Sections of innovative industry, such as electrical goods maker Philips, have also given their support to 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 at the weekend made modest progress towards a new global deal on climate change, meant to be reached in Paris at the end of 2015.
He 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,” he said.
Britain, nervous over the rise of Euroscepticism, was a lone voice in support of the Commission’s work plan.
David Lidington, Britain’s Europe minister, issued a statement saying he welcomed the aim to scrap “a number of costly and unnecessary draft laws” and it would help business.
The new European Commission, in office since the start of November, has promised to listen to the views of EU governments and the European Parliament.
Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella said he agreed with ministers that green technology and recycling could spur growth, but the Commission would next year propose a more effective plan than the one put forward by its predecessor.
Critics counter there is no logic in starting an already lengthy process from scratch.
Editing by Dale Hudson and David Evans