Fit For 55: ENVI Committee Meeting 20/04/2022
by Adeniran Adeboye
Rapporteur Christophe Hansen (EPP) began by thanking the commission for the proposal on halting deforestation and stressed the importance of forests in combating climate change, as they are the lungs of our planet. He also emphasized the importance of an EU perspective on global deforestation through the report from October 2020 nonetheless, several adaptations have to be made to make this report better. He finally encouraged other colleagues in the committee to ensure that the instruments in this policy are interoperable and not too technical.
Major points made by the Rapporteur:
- Scope: The scope of products and items which contribute to deforestation needs to be expanded, and it is a welcome development that the committee has decided to include products such as maize and rubberware. The rapporteur however proposed the additional inclusion of many palm-oil based derivatives, beef and charcoal as products putting pressure on forest resources.
- Role of indigenous people: There is a need to consider the rights and needs of indigenous people who rely on forest ecosystem services for survival.
- Smallholders: Smallholder farmers often better protect their environment and the forest, hence the need for this deforestation proposal to provide more financial and technical support for them.
D. Burkhardt (Germany, S&D)
She expressed her gratitude and pleasure in the fact that the commission has effectively taken up this proposal to combat deforestation even though it has just been a little over a year since it was established. She stated, however, some concern about the narrow definition being used for forest degradation and why it could be misleading.
C. Zacharoupoulou (France, Renew)
There is a need to consider the angle of human rights in deforestation policies. The inclusion of rubber and palm derivatives as deforestation products is also a welcome development however this regulation needs to be extended to other products as well.
Anna Zalewska (Poland, ECR)
She expressed her gladness about the work being done so far concerning the forest strategy. She however noted three major points. Firstly, each country in the EU has different possibilities and different forestry needs. Secondly, The forestry resources ownership structures are different in different states. Thirdly, different goods have varying distribution networks and so applying a single approach to all these products seems rather unfeasible.
Exchange of views with Mr Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, as part of the structured dialogue
Mr. T. Breton was invited to the ENVI committee meeting on the annual structured dialogue. Firstly, he discussed the current situation – the COVID crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Restrictions on steel, iron, and certain high-value technologies are however affecting the commission’s work. He also stressed the importance of reducing energy dependence on Russia if the green transition is to be achieved.
- In the solar supply chain, the US is well placed in terms of control and balance but still behind in the downstream sector where China has virtually a monopoly.
- In hydrogen and batteries, investment in the sector appears to be yielding good results and prospects. 70% of Europe’s battery needs will be provided from within Europe and resulting in about 500,000 jobs by 2025.
- Chips Act: Green transition cannot be achieved without semiconductors hence more needs to be done in this area.
J. Polfjard (Sweden, EPP)
She stated that a focus on the transition to a more circular economy is ideal and cannot be overemphasised.
- In light of the current socio-economic realities, how can Europe be more resilient and promote a strategic resource base to achieve the green transition?
She encouraged the commission to do more to promote European forestry and bioeconomy sectors so that forests can absorb and replace fossil fuels thereby supporting the circular economy.
J. Melin (France, ID)
The MP, noting that since electric car batteries take up large amounts of cobalt, nickel and cadmium, asked the following question: what measures are being set in the green objective to ensure sustainable recycling of these materials?
N Procaccini (Italy, ECR)
Some member states are indeed in favor of neutrality but are against the imposition of some ideologies which might be encompassed in the fit-for-55 package. It is possible that the people of Europe may not be fully ready for such a transition right now.