The German EU Presidency is especially concerned with shaping Europe's ecological future. This comprises the five focal points ecological industrial policy, climate, energy, sustainable mobility and biodiversity.
A sustainable Europe which creates jobs and prosperity needs an active environmental policy. Faced with dynamic growth in important newly industrialised countries, global challenges such as climate protection and resource scarcity require “green” innovations. To this end we need an ecological policy for innovation and industry at European level which systematically promotes environmental technologies such as energy- and resource-efficient processes and products, or renewable energies.
In this way we can also achieve the highest possible level of environmental protection, sustainable economic development, competitiveness and not least of employment. The German EU Presidency wants to give the impetus for this in the context of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs at the Environment Council in February and the Spring Council in March 2007. We aim to elaborate more detailed contributions at the informal meeting of environment ministers in Essen in June.
The European Union plays a leading role worldwide in combating environmental pollution and climate change. The Presidency will advance international climate protection for the post-2012 period under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and on the basis of the agreed 2 degrees Celsius target, in order to effectively counter climate change and to create long-term planning security for investments in innovative and energy-saving technologies.
In this context particular attention should be given firstly to elaborating a negotiation package with proposals for emission reduction targets and developing options for incorporating other major emitters, and secondly to the implementation and further development of emissions trading. The European Union aims to bring new impetus to the international process at the upcoming climate negotiations in autumn 2007 (COP 13).
Germany’s Presidency of the EU will advance discussions in the Council on experience gained in emissions trading and incorporate the announced Commission proposal on the inclusion of the aviation sector into the Council’s work.
Innovations are especially needed in the energy sector. High energy prices, growing concern over security of energy supply and major challenges in the field of climate protection underline the need for a common European energy policy.
The March 2007 European Council will adopt an Energy Action Plan which will focus in particular on making progress in energy efficiency and on the expansion of renewables. A key aim of the German EU Presidency is to specify further goals for the expansion of renewable energies in the European Union. Other topics are the use of renewable energies for heating and cooling and the increased use of biomass and biofuels.
Germany will make sustainable and environmentally sound mobility a priority. This will include advancing the discussions on European Commission proposals for reducing pollutants from motor vehicles. Another key issue is the discussion of effective measures for reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars. This also includes measures in the field of environmentally sound fuels.
A particular concern is the protection and sustainable use of biological diversity, which is now declining at an alarming rate. To achieve the goal of halting the loss of biological diversity by 2010 we need additional efforts, e.g. towards protecting tropical forests, promoting sustainable forestry, changing certain fishing practices, creating a global network of protected areas, designating marine protected areas and financing global nature conservation.
The preparations for the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Germany in 2008 will be supported with solid contributions which will strengthen the European Union's leading role in the field of biodiversity.
The German Presidency will take up the discussions on soil conservation and waste. We want to complete the proposal for a framework directive on waste management. The German Presidency in the EU aims to conclude the discussions on the directive on certain hazardous substances in water bodies.
The Presidency will support a safer and more efficient chemicals management, at both European and global level, especially with regard to an export ban on mercury.
At the Thessaloniki European Council in 2003, the EU Member States agreed on an initiative to promote the integration of environmental aspects into general external relations. It was named the Green Diplomacy Network.
The network uses the resources of foreign ministries and their diplomatic missions throughout the world to advance environmental topics significant to the EU's external relations. These include climate change, biodiversity and chemical safety.
For more on this topic, see the EU Commission's English pages: