On the 27th March, the European Parliament approved the final text of the draft Directive on the reduction of certain types of plastics during its plenary session without any further change to the text. The ultimate edition was agreed during the trilogue negotiations between the Parliament and Council before Christmas last year and then approved by the Environment Committee earlier in January 2019.
Prior to the vote, MEPs have debated on their positions, the majority praising the initiative of the European Commission and urging to keep on working on plastics, ranging from micro- and nanoplastics to endocrine disruptors in packaging. Some MEPs, however, have also shared their concerns about the speed of the legislative process, the losses of jobs and the danger of similar short-sighted policies that do not take into consideration other single use materials, alternatives, and the overall lack of enforcement by Member States.
The Directive has been approved by a large majority of MEPs with 560 in favour, 35 not in favour and 28 abstentions. Clearly, the European Parliament has endorsed the proposal and the scope enlargement as earlier negotiated this year. This result comes as no surprise as, since its early stages, many politicians have seen such a topic as an entry pass for the next legislation cycle.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella were also present. The former has been an enthusiastic supporter of the proposal since the beginning and he declared that the focus on plastics is here to stay. As it is shared by the full spectrum of the Parliament, it will be taken on board by the next Commission and Council.
EuPC, while acknowledging the need for a clean environment and seas, still considers this legislative act and the text flawed, both on merit and on the procedural steps to hurry the overall legislative process.
Alexandre Dangis, EuPC Managing Director: “We regret the adoption of such a regulatory act, discriminating a material that has a crucial role in solving the current challenges for society globally in the decades to come. This vote will have a direct negative environmental impact and thousands of job losses all over Europe. It furthermore dictates countries and people how to live and change consumption habits without focusing on what’s key, namely education and anti-littering behaviour. Littering will continue but with other products. Regrettably, no proper impact assessment or LCAs have been done within the extraordinary short timeframe as EU politicians carried on the wave of fighting for so called good cause.“
Following the approval of the text of the Directive by the European Parliament, the Council will adopt the text without debate at a future meeting. As originally planned and recommended by the Commission, the publication in the Official Journal of the EU is now expected in April/May 2019, just in time before the European elections.