Agenda item 4.8 - Developments with regard to the implementation of EU Waste legislation-Waste Implementation Agency and Minimum Criteria for waste related inspections (Terry Shears)
Terry Shears said that the meeting with the Commission of 25 March showed clearly that waste and especially landfills are a big issue. He asked Peter Wessman to inform the meeting about the latest state of play regarding the implementation of Waste Agency
Peter Wessman said that this area has the highest rate of complaints alongside nature protection.
The EC is collaborating with MSs to emphasise the importance of enforcement, but at the same time new ways of tackling the issue are being explored.
The study on the feasibility of the Waste Agency is available on the EC webpage. The study recommends an EU mechanism, mentions the agency option, as well as the possibilities of other bodies. IMPEL is mentioned in the final report. The report was produced by independent subcontracted experts, and the EC has not yet decided how to use the study.
The study identifies seriousness of gaps, but also potential benefits of strengthening enforcement and implementation, such as creating a level playing field, possibilities of innovation etc.
The Commission is now at the stage of the assessment, and would like to continue close exchange of information with IMPEL. It would also like to promote new projects, especially regarding the implementation of the Landfill Directive.
France observed that it might not be such a good idea to add another body to the local level. France is enthusiastic about the exchange of information with IMPEL and other levels of collaboration, but not so much about the agency.
Gerard Wolters said perhaps it is not time for IMPEL to give views on the desirability of the Agency. A proposal was prepared for a response on behalf of IMPEL.
Terry Shears agreed that it is probably not appropriate for IMPEL as a network to say “yes” or “no” to the Agency, as different countries have different views. He read the text of the proposal for IMPEL's response on the feasibility of the creation of the Agency, and asked for comments:
Suggested elements for IMPEL’s response
to the Study on a Waste Implementation Agency
· IMPEL appreciates the efforts of the EC in general to improve the implementation of the EU legislation on waste;
· IMPEL is concerned about the multitude of EC initiatives in this field and asks for a transparent and coherent strategy;
· IMPEL would like to stress in this respect also the importance of linking the Waste initiatives to other EC initiatives related to improving implementation and enforcement of EC Environmental law, like the review of the RMCEI;
· IMPEL would like to suggest the Commission to more regularly inform IMPEL about the different developments so that IMPEL when deemed necessary can give timely and adequate feedback from the practitioners’ point of view;
· IMPEL is interested to hear from the Commission what further steps it currently is considering;
· IMPEL acknowledges the challenges when it comes to strengthening the implementation and enforcement of EU Waste legislation;
· Such a challenge is for instance the need to develop commonly agreed minimum requirements and comprehensive practical guidance on planning and carrying out WSR inspections and the review of authorities implementing these ;
· IMPEL thinks it can and should take up these challenges, regardless of a future debate on a possible Waste Implementation Agency; the expertise and experience of the participants within the different IMPEL Clusters make the network uniquely qualified to work on such regulatory and technical aspects of EU environmental legislation;
· When broadening and intensifying its work on Waste, IMPEL would however need the increased support and cooperation from the Commission.
Germany mentioned that TFS Steering Committee also prepared a report on this, and asked who this response will come from?
Nancy Isarin confirmed that TFS SC drafted some inputs and circulated them to some Board members.
Gerard Wolters concluded that only one draft response is to be considered as IMPEL's official response.
France said the response is balanced, as it talks about future work and is responding to the problem
Belgium observed that the north of Belgium has had a waste agency for 30 years and no major problem on the treatment of waste was encountered. It is not sure if that part of Belgium is covered in the Survey.
As TFS Cluster is about shipments of waste, and not waste treatment, it is not so sure TFS would be the right body to prepare a response.
Italy proposed some stylistic improvements and pointed out that the waste agency would not look only on shipments but also other issues, so the proposal for response should be reformulated in this sense.
It also pointed out that the reviewing of a policy of a country is not possible so the point mentioning the review should be modified.
Likewise, the point on the support from the Commission seems to be unnecessary as there is already an MoU with the EC.
Peter Wessman said there are significant diversities across the EU on how legislation is put into place. No position has yet been taken at the EC level.
Gerard Wolters noted the preference for a general reaction of IMPEL as the most appropriate, considering that the study is only a first step. It is important for IMPEL to be on board when the EC is talking to stakeholders, otherwise IMPEL is standing aside from the process.
If necessary, more time could be taken to respond, given that a general comment is not immediately necessary.
The EC said it would be very useful to have IMPEL's views within 2 months. There are no deadlines for this, but any contribution is welcome.
Germany observed that perhaps it is useful to first pronounce IMPEL's general opinion and say we would like to be involved. Later on perhaps individual members can specify and add on to this with their knowledge
Croatia suggested that the point asking the Commission to inform IMPEL on further developments would be better placed as a concluding point of the document.
Gerard Wolters agreed that would be an improvement, and also agreed with Germany and France that it is a good tactical step to advance a general IMPEL view first and then perhaps complement it at a later stage.
Italy agreed that a response should be given, but stressed the importance of changes in the point on the review.
Terry Shears explained that on the point of review, that is exactly what the IRI initiative does and this represents an important part of the work of IMPEL.
Regarding the point on more resources to broaden the scope, it has to be noted that IMPEL has been very active on TFS issues, but has not done much on landfills. So this point is saying that this is a new direction and this will require more resources. Obviously this would have to be subject of negotiation and we will see what happens, but at this moment it is a fair comment to make.
Germany asked if it would help to say “IRI” instead of the review.
Ireland observed that calling it IRI might be limited but as IMPEL is not a regulator, maybe we can call it voluntary review instead of IRI. This wording was agreed upon.