Press Release - Political commitment to safeguard the European waters
17.12.2012, 19:44 (CET)
The Blueprint to safeguard Europe's Water Resources was the subject of extensive discussions during the Environment and Climate Change Council of the European Union that took place today, Monday December 17, in Brussels.  At this final Environment Council under the Cyprus Presidency, other major items discussed included the Annual Growth Survey for 2013, the proposed new Environment Action Programme as well as a number of issues relating to climate change.

Cyprus' Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr. Sofoclis Aletraris, who chaired the Council, concluded the meeting by emphasising his satisfaction for the outcome of the Cyprus Presidency agenda on the environment. He also expressed his appreciation for the broader spirit of mutuality and support which characterised the cooperation and interaction with Member States and European Institutions. 

The Blueprint and Council Conclusions address a key environmental issue

“The European Union is determined to address the threats to the European waters”, said Mr. Aletraris.  According to the Minister, the Commission’s Water Blueprint and the Councils’ Conclusions adopted today, signify a major step in the efforts to effectively tackle current and emerging threats to the European Waters. 

This step became imperative as current assessments show that more than half of the surface water bodies in Europe are classified as being below the level of ‘good ecological status’. At the same time, water scarcity is spreading in Europe, while the frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, as well as their environmental and economic impact appear to have increased over the past thirty years.

Doha outcome in the context of the fight against climate change

Regarding issues of climate change, the most important one on the agenda concerned the outcome of the UN Conference on Climate Change held earlier this month at Doha, Qatar. The ministers held discussions relating both to the achievements at Doha, as well as the further steps the European Union needs to take in order to ensure that the agreements at Doha will be speedily and effectively implemented. 

The major outcomes from the Doha summit were the start of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol on January 1 next year and the roadmap for the negotiations to conclude a new universal binding agreement on climate by 2015.

Greening the EU’s economic and fiscal policies

On the issue of resource efficiency and green growth, the Council held a fruitful debate providing input to the forthcoming spring 2013 European Council aimed at greening the European Semester. 

Inter alia, the use of environmental taxation, the gradual facing out of environmentally harmful subsidies, energy efficiency, improved waste management, as well as integrated water management, constitute the main priority areas to be targeted.

“Such actions”, said Minister Aletraris, “have great potential to also contribute to job creation, in addition to their indisputable environmental benefits”.

Environmental Action Programme and other work

Other important work carried out during the meeting included the discussion on the content and priorities of the proposed new Environmental Action Programme. It was also underlined that significant progress has been made in the negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for greenhouse gas emissions and removals from activities related to land use, land use change and forestry, which is expected to result in a first reading agreement.

On Sunday 16, December, prior to the ministerial meeting, Mr. Aletraris co-chaired the meeting traditionally held with the Green- 10 organisations, which provided an opportunity for Member States and the Commission to engage in a dialogue with the environmental community on issues to be discussed at the Council.

Presidency Spokesperson in Brussels
Marianna Karageorgis

Coreper I

Telephone: +32 27404002
Mobile: +32 473858237
Advisor, Communications Officer
Nikos Georgiades

Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment
Telephone: +357 22408324

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17.12.2012 - 17.12.2012