§ Mr. Couchman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the outcome of the EC Environment Council on 1 October 1991.
§ Mr. Trippier
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and I represented the United Kingdom at this Council.
The Council agreed a directive to introduce new standardised reporting arrangements into a large number of existing environmental directives. Member states will be required to submit information to the European Commission in a prescribed format every three years on 121W the implementation of each directive concerned, with one exception. The Commission in turn will publish reports every three years, based on this information. The exception is the bathing water directive, where reports will be produced annually. The United Kingdom has strongly supported these proposals, which should help to ensure that existing environmental legislation is properly implemented and enforced throughout the Community.
The Council formally adopted a directive tightening emission limits from large diesel-engined vehicles, which was agreed in principle earlier this year. The new controls will come into effect in 1995 and 1996.
Considerable further progress was made towards agreement of the proposed directive on protecting the habitats of wild flora and fauna. Very few issues remain outstanding, and on these proposals were advanced which were acceptable to the large majority of member states, including the United Kingdom. The Presidency envisaged that final agreement should be possible at the next Environment Council in December.
The Council also discussed the proposed regulation establishing a new Community Environment Fund ("LIFE"), and the proposed regulation to control the movement of waste into, out of and within the Community. Brief reports were delivered concerning the progress of discussions on regulations about evaluating and controlling the risks posed by existing dangerous substances, about controlling the import and export of dangerous chemicals, and about establishing a Community eco-labelling scheme. The Commission introduced new communications to the Council on preparations for the 1992 United Nations conference on environment and development, and on measures to combat climate change, including the possibility of taxes on energy and the carbon content of fuels.