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19th Jan 2019

Agenda

Climate, waste, and Danish referendum This WEEK

  • At the Paris climate conference, the will push for a 50 percent reduction of carbon emissions in 2050. (Photo: Joe deSousa)

After two weeks dominated by the aftermaths of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the threat in Brussels, Europe will be turning this week to the more peaceful, but no less crucial, issue of climate change.

On Monday (30 November) the 21st UN climate change conference starts in Paris. Around 80 world leaders will attend the event until 11 December with the goal of reaching an agreement to limit carbon emissions.

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The event was maintained despite the 13 November terrorist attacks, but side events were cancelled for security reasons, as was as a giant climate march.

The EU negotiating team will be split between Carole Dieschbourg, the environment minister of Luxembourg, which holds the presidency of the EU Council, and EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

Member states' representatives will also speak for the EU on specific issues.

EU Commission and European Council presidents, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, will attend the opening of the conference on Monday.

50 percent target

The bloc's position, adopted in September by the 28 environment ministers, is to demand a "legally-binding agreement" and "a comprehensive package of decisions to enable implementation."

The target is to reach reduction of emissions "by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 and near zero or below by 2100" in order to keep global warming under 2°C.

But Poland said in October it would refuse any binding agreement it considers harmful to its economy.

The country has been at odds with the EU emissions targets because of it reliance on coal, which is still an important part of its economy.

The main internal EU event this week will be a Danish referendum on Thursday (3 December), where voters decide whether to scrap Denmark's opt-outs on EU justice rules.

Since voters rejected the Maastricht treaty in 1992, Denmark is exempt from EU juctice and home affairs policies such, as police cooperation or legislation on civil, commercial, or family affairs.


Voters will be asked to replace the opt-outs by opt-ins, like the UK and Ireland. That would make it easier for Denmark to join EU policies. This move is supported by the government, which announced a referendum in August.


Despite concerns about loopholes in EU anti-crime and anti-terrorism cooperation, analysts believe the Paris attacks and Brussels alert could swing voters towards a Yes vote, but the latest opinion-polls show a small No-majority..

On Monday, financial services commissioner Jonathan Hill will also launch new rules for capital markets union.

Circular economy

But the big announcement from the EU Commission this week will be its circular economy package. The plan has been presented as a flagship in the commission's action plan.

But leaked documents show the package will not go as far as a previous plan, ditched last year.

The commission is expected to set a target that “by 2030, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of municipal waste shall be increased to a minimum of 65 percent by weight," while the abandoned plan set a 70 percent target.

On Wednesday (2 December), commission vice-presidents Frans Timmermans will discuss the package with MEPs at a mini-plenary session in Brussels.

During the plenary, MEPs will also ask justice commissioner Vera Jourova about the assessment and in-depth monitoring of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, which they demanded in July.

The commission sent two weeks ago a letter to MEPs about the issue. But it did not convince those who think the EU should take action against the government of Viktor Orban.

Parliament

Terrorism and security will be on the EU Parliament's agenda Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, the civil liberties committee will vote on a deal with member states about the EU police support agency, Europol, to boost its ability to respond to threats and to improve scrutiny of its work.

The committee will also be briefed on the state of play of the current negotiations between parliament, commission, and member states on the Passenger Name Record (PNR) programme.

On 20 November, EU justice and interior ministers urged MEPs to accept before the end of the year a PNR that would be extended to EU internal flights.

On Tuesday, EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove will discuss with the civil liberties committee the EU anti-terror strategy after the Paris attacks.

On Tuesday and Wednesday (1-2 December), Nato foreign ministers will meet just days after the Turkish air force downed a Russian jet.

The incident could have consequences for regional stability, for France's efforts to get Russia on board against Islamic State and for EU efforts to work with Turkey on the refugee crisis.

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