HC Deb 24 October 1995 vol 264 cc521-2W
Mr. Day

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Environment Council on 6 October. [39829]

Mr. Gummer

I represented the United Kingdom at the Environment Council in Luxembourg held on 6 October.

Common positions were reached on a decision on the exchange of information on air quality and on a directive temporarily deferring the emission standards for certain diesel engines, in line with technical progress. On the latter I secured the deletion of text relating to fiscal incentives. Political agreement was secured on the second phase of the financial instrument for the environment—LIFE—which agreed a budget of 450 mecu over four years, 1996–1999, to be reviewed in 1997. Political agreement was also achieved on an amendment to the Waste Shipments Regulation. In both cases a common position is expected in December.

There was a policy debate about the proposed amendment to Directive 85/337 on Environmental Impact Assessment. I secured some helpful amendments to the proposals and further detailed discussions will now continue in the experts working group. The Presidency is aiming for a common position in December.

Council conclusions were agreed on a number of international conferences taking place in the coming months. These include the third pan-European conference, "Environment for Europe", the seventh conference of the parties to the Montreal protocol, the second conference of the parties to the biodiversity convention and the Euro-Mediterranean conference. Agreement was also reached on Council conclusions deferring the review of the functions of the European Environment Agency for two years.