Unlike the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union is not yet ready to enter trilogue talks on the revision of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR). Last year, the Council's Working Party on the Environment had primarily focused on rules governing transboundary shipments of waste between EU member states in the course of five meetings. According to an update provided by the Czech government at the Environment Council meeting shortly before Christmas, several general clarifications had also been sought under the Czech EU Presidency on the relationship between the WSR proposal and international agreements such as the Basel Convention.
This means that closer examination of the proposed changes to the rules for exports to third countries, both to OECD states and to non-OECD member countries, must still be carried out. This work will now be led by Sweden, which took over the rotating EU presidency at the beginning of the year. The WSR is on the agenda for today's meeting of the Council's Environment Working Party.
At the Council meeting before Christmas, Hungary's representative argued that the proximity principle should also be taken into account in the prior notification and consent procedure for intra-EU shipments of waste destined for recovery. The country of destination should be able to object not just to shipments of waste for disposal, but also to waste imports for recovery if the planned shipments jeopardise the recovery of domestic waste. Slovenia argued that the needs of smaller member state that may not have sufficient capacity for the management of certain types of waste and this should also be considered in the compromise proposal.
Representatives of several other member states stressed the need to take account of the situation of remote and sparsely populated regions. France, for example, called for a simplified procedure for transit shipments of waste from French ultraperipheral regions through other member states to continental France. The representative of the French government referred to it as "a question of equality among French citizens".
At the meeting, Romania expressed support for limiting the number of interim recovery operations in order to ensure traceability of shipments. The Netherlands announced that it would pay special attention to further promoting the high-quality processing of waste.
The intended digitalisation of administrative procedures was welcomed by several member states at the Environment Council meeting. However, the Presidency pointed out in its mid-December progress report that despite improved communication, competent authorities in the member states would still need sufficient time to examine documents and obtain the necessary information. According to the Czech Presidency, the discussions on the new electronic system may also "result in the need for further regulatory adjustments".