The European Commission proposed three new regulations to curb EU-driven deforestation, boost the circular economy through sustainable waste management and combat desertification through soil protection in order to meet the EU’s climate objectives.
“To succeed in the global fight against the climate and biodiversity crises we must take the responsibility to act at home as well as abroad”, emphasised Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans at the press conference which introduced the public to the Commission’s new package of proposals.
“Our deforestation regulation answers citizens’ calls to minimise the European contribution to deforestation and promote sustainable consumption. Our new rules to govern waste shipments will boost the circular economy and ensure that waste exports do not harm the environment or human health elsewhere. And our soil strategy will allow the soil to get healthy, be used sustainably and receive the legal protection it needs”, added Mr Timmermans.
The regulation against EU-driven deforestation would guarantee that the products that EU citizens buy, use and consume on the EU market do not contribute to global deforestation and forest degradation. It sets mandatory rules for companies that place commodities on the EU market and ensures that only deforestation-free and legal products are allowed on the EU market.
The Commission will also use a benchmarking system to assess countries for their deforestation risk levels and step up dialogue with other big consumer countries to join efforts.
Under the revised Regulation on waste shipments, stronger rules will be imposed on waste exports, waste circulation system and waste trafficking.
“The deforestation and waste shipment regulations we are putting on the table are the most ambitious legislative attempts to tackle these issues worldwide ever. With these proposals, we are taking our responsibility and walking the talk by lowering our global impact on pollution and biodiversity loss”, underlined Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries at the press conference.
Under the new regulation, while waste exports to non-OECD countries will be restricted, allowed only if third countries are able to manage certain wastes sustainably, waste shipments to OECD countries will be monitored and suspended if they generate environmental problems in the country of destination. The proposal will also introduce an electronic exchange of documentation.
Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the enforcement regime against waste trafficking, in addition, includes setting up an EU Waste Shipment Enforcement Group, empowering the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF to support transnational investigations by EU Member States, and providing stronger rules on administrative penalties.
A new EU Soil Strategy which is an important deliverable of the European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sets a framework with concrete measures for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of soils. It proposes a set of voluntary and legally binding measures that include a new Soil Health Law proposal.
“We also put forward a ground-breaking EU soil strategy with a strong policy agenda that sets out to grant them the same level of protection as water, marine environment and air”, Mr Sinkevičius pointed out.
In addition, the Strategy mobilises the necessary societal engagement and financial resources, promotes sustainable soil management practices and monitoring, supporting the EU ambition for global action on the soil.