Tag Archives: Protection of the environment

Other substances: protection of groundwater

Other substances: protection of groundwater

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Other substances: protection of groundwater

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Environment > Water protection and management

Other substances: protection of groundwater

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 80/68/EEC of 17 December 1979 on the protection of groundwater against pollution caused by certain dangerous substances [See amending acts].

Summary

The purpose of this Directive is to prevent the discharge of certain toxic, persistent and bioaccumulable substances into groundwater.

The following are not covered:

  • discharges of domestic effluents from isolated dwellings;
  • discharges containing substances listed in Directive 80/68/EEC in very small quantities and concentrations;
  • discharges of matter containing radioactive substances.

There are two lists of dangerous substances drawn up for the protection of groundwater:

  • direct discharge of substances in List I is prohibited. This list includes organohalogen, organophosphorus and organotin compounds, mercury and cadmium and their compounds, and hydrocarbons and cyanides;
  • discharge of substances in List II must be limited. This list includes certain metals such as copper, zinc, lead and arsenic, and other substances such as fluorides, toxic or persistent organic compounds of silicon, and biocides and their derivatives not appearing in List I.

All indirect discharges of substances in List I and all direct or indirect discharges of substances in List II are subject to prior authorisation. Such authorisation:

  • is granted after an investigation into the receiving environment;
  • is granted for a limited period and subject to regular review;
  • lays down the conditions that have to be met for discharges. If they have not been or cannot be met, the authorisation is withdrawn or refused.

Monitoring of compliance with these conditions and of the effects of discharges on groundwater is the responsibility of the competent authorities of the Member States.

The Directive provides for exceptions, under certain conditions, to the ban on discharges of substances in List I.

It also lays down special rules for artificial recharges of groundwater intended for public water supplies.

The competent authorities of the Member States must keep an inventory of authorisations:

  • of discharges of substances in List I;
  • of direct discharges of substances in List II;
  • of artificial recharges for the purpose of groundwater management.

The Member States concerned must inform one another in the event of discharges into transboundary groundwater.

Member States may introduce more stringent measures than those laid down in this Directive.

Every three years, reports by the Member States on the implementation of Directive 80/68/EEC and other relevant Directives, drawn up on the basis of a questionnaire or outline drafted by the Commission in accordance with the procedure laid down in Directive 91/692/EEC. The Commission is responsible for publishing a report on the basis of this information.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 80/68/EEC 19.12.1979 19.12.1983 OJ L 20 of 26.01.1980
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 91/692/EEC 23.12.1991 01.01.1993 OJ L 377 of 31.12.1991

Related Acts

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy [Official Journal L 327 of 22.12.2000].
This Directive repeals Directive 80/68/EC as of 21 December 2013.

Commission Decision 92/446/EEC of 27 July 1992 concerning questionnaires relating to Directives in the water sector [Official Journal L 247 of 27.08.1992].

This Decision draws up the outlines of questionnaires needed to monitor the implementation of and compliance with the provisions of all Directives in the water sector, including Directive 80/68/EEC.

 

Guidelines for developing national maritime policies

Guidelines for developing national maritime policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Guidelines for developing national maritime policies

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Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Maritime affairs

Guidelines for developing national maritime policies

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 26 June 2008 on “Guidelines for an Integrated Approach to Maritime Policy: Towards best practice in integrated maritime governance and stakeholder consultation” [COM(2008) 395 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Union (EU) has proposed guidelines for the development of an integrated maritime policy, which constitutes one of the Commission’s strategic objectives for the period 2005-2009. This new approach at the European level is at the heart of the EU’s integrated maritime policy proposed by the Commission in October 2007. The guidelines set out the policy’s overarching vision and encompass the actions of Member States and maritime stakeholders towards an integrated approach to maritime affairs at the national level.

Member States are encouraged to establish their own integrated maritime policies in close collaboration with their national and regional maritime stakeholders. Due to the many interactions between different maritime policies, efficient coordination of every action developed by government organisations will be required. To achieve this it is advised that Member States improve and facilitate cooperation at all levels of maritime governance, including at the European level.

Member States should consider creating internal coordinating structures within their government frameworks (government departments, national parliaments, etc.). Such a structure could provide a government framework to facilitate decision-making at the national level. A post responsible for the coordination of maritime affairs could be created. The role would consist specifically of structuring the dialogue between the different sectoral interests.

Coastal regions and other local decision-makers should be allowed to play a role in the development of integrated maritime policies, taking into account their experience of Integrated Coastal Zone Management and regulating the spatial deployment of their activities.

All maritime stakeholders should participate in integrated maritime policy-making. These include economic partners (industries and services), social partners, NGOs, universities and research institutions. Their participation at the national, regional and local levels is recommended. Member States should authorise the participation of these stakeholders in the governance of maritime affairs whilst ensuring the transparency of the decision-making process.

It is essential to develop cross-border coordination at regional sea basin level, to ensure the dissemination of good practices and to develop improved cooperation between Member States in certain areas, such as those relating to the protection of the marine environment, to the safety, security, and surveillance of Europe’s maritime areas and to marine and maritime research. To this end, the European Commission is developing regional strategies and is currently preparing strategies for the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean.

The Commission invites Member States to share information on the steps they are taking towards integrated maritime governance. The Commission shall publish the collated information on the Internet in table form. The information could be used as a model for sharing good practice.

The Commission will report on progress towards an integrated approach to maritime affairs by the end of 2009, as stated in the Blue Paper on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU.

Context

These guidelines form a central part of the Communication on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (Blue Paper) adopted by the Commission in October 2007 and approved by the European Council in December 2007.

These guidelines also form part of the United Nations’ 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.

Trans-European networks: towards an integrated approach

Trans-European networks: towards an integrated approach

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Trans-European networks: towards an integrated approach

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Transport > Intermodality and trans-european networks

Trans-European networks: towards an integrated approach

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 21 March 2007 to the Council and the European Parliament entitled: “Trans-European Networks: Towards an integrated approach” [COM(2007) 135 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The trans-European networks (TENs) constitute an ambitious and essential objective for the competitiveness of the European Union and therefore for growth and jobs. Several major industrial programmes such as GALILEO, ERTMS and SESAR are following the logic of Europeanisation of transport infrastructures, often designed only according to national requirements.

Sustainable use of resources is a key element in TEN policy, since the most environmentally-friendly procedures enjoy a privileged status amongst the priority projects.

Assessment of TENs in 2006

The completion of 30 priority transport projects is behind schedule as the new, very costly infrastructures required have not been granted sufficient resources. The network is still incomplete, with investments of EUR 160 billion needed to finance the priority projects alone for the financial programming period 2007-2013. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund remain the principal sources of Community intervention, and the European Investment Bank (EIB ) will continue to fund the infrastructures via its loans and a specific Guarantee Instrument.

The Community has recently adopted guidelines aimed at updating the trans-European energy networks (Decision No 1364/2006/EC). Some 42 projects, including 10 relating to gas networks, have been declared of European interest. The EU must invest at least EUR 30 billion in infrastructures between now and 2013. Between 2000 and 2006, approximately EUR 140 million was invested in the trans-European energy networks under the TEN budget. A figure of EUR 155 million has been earmarked for the financial period 2007-2013. The Commission has stressed here again, however, that the allocated amounts are limited in light of the issues at stake and actual requirements.

Investments in telecommunications are currently focused on modernising existing networks. The Commission has highlighted the disparities between urban and rural areas (already identified in its communication entitled Bridging the Broadband Gap) and invites the Member States to take concrete measures and define goals for reducing these differences by 2010. Public aid is encouraged in the event of market failure, in strict compliance with telecommunications and State aid regulations. A map of the infrastructures is needed to help the competent authorities assess their requirements and take advantage of ongoing civil engineering work.

Towards an integrated approach: the findings of the steering group

The steering group set up on 20 July 2005 at the request of the Commission has examined the possible synergies between the trans-European networks along with methods of funding and potential distribution. It has established that combinations of rail and road networks have shown themselves to be of significant value (more efficient use of space, reduced costs and environmental impact) and there are definite advantages in linking the two types of TEN. Synergies between the transport and telecommunications networks seem the most promising and ways of interconnecting the electricity networks are also worth exploring.

The steering group also underlined the potential environmental benefits of integrating the TEN. In fact, the 30 priority projects involving the trans-European transport network largely favour methods of transport which are more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly, such as rail or water. Interconnections between the national energy networks and connections with renewable energy sources will also optimise the use of available capacities in each Member State, thus reducing the environmental impact.

The steering group recommends:

  • continuing research into synergies between the TENs with the aim of producing and circulating a manual of good practices, and developing synergies between the objectives of cohesion policy and the priorities adopted in the TEN context;
  • evaluating the need for alternative solutions for availability payments over several financial periods and making appropriate legislative proposals if necessary;
  • monitoring the development of public-private partnerships and promoting this type of funding;
  • completing TEN priority projects on schedule while ensuring the application of environmental law.

New technologies

A midterm review of the 2001 White Paper on transport policy acknowledges the role of new information and communication technologies in ensuring that people and goods can travel safely and sustainably. Numerous schemes, including the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITSs), the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and the European satellite navigation project GALILEO, represent effective tools for increasing safety and reducing congestion and environmental impact.

The group thus recommends that investments in the ITSs be integrated, from the early planning stages, into all new trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects.

Legal clarification on non-cumulation of Community funds

The steering group concluded that there must be no possibility of cumulation of subsidies from several Community funds and has confirmed the need to maintain a consistent approach across the various legal instruments. Thus, when granting aid under the TEN arrangements, the Commission will check whether or not the projects have already received aid from the Structural or Cohesion Funds.

According to the steering group, delays in the priority transport projects are largely due to difficulties in reconciling the rules for granting Community subsidies from the TEN budget with the actual financial needs of the projects. The new TEN regulation should make it easier to part-finance the major cross-border projects, which are technically and financially complex.

The steering group also stressed the advantages of funding by public-private partnerships (PPP), and the benefits of a European Guarantee Instrument (provided by the EIB) to encourage the PPPs to fund the TEN-Ts. Such a system could help to lessen the risks linked to insufficient revenue during the initial years of operation of a project, and generate a considerable lever effect.

Based on the availability risk, PPPs will also form an integral part of the forms of subsidies eligible for Community financial support under the new regulation on transport and energy TENs.

Towards a strategy for the Arctic

Towards a strategy for the Arctic

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards a strategy for the Arctic

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External relations > Industrialised countries

Towards a strategy for the Arctic

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – The European Union and the arctic region [COM(2008) 763 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Union (EU) wishes to develop a new policy for the Arctic, in cooperation with the different States and territories of that region.

The EU is closely linked to the Arctic region because some Member States have territories there. In addition, some of the States in the region are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), and some are strategic partners of the EU (Canada, United States, Russia).

The priority objective of this policy must be to preserve the environment, whilst ensuring the sustainable use of resources.

Preserving the Arctic region

The fight against climate change represents a challenge of paramount importance for the future of the region. Appropriate strategies should allow ecosystems and human activities to be managed in a sustainable way, as well as international processes (the transport of pollutants, etc.). Crisis management should also be improved in view of the fragility of the environment, the low demographic density and the lack of existing infrastructure.

The Commission proposes, in particular, to:

  • assess the effectiveness of policies and international agreements on the environment;
  • maintain permanent dialogue with associations;
  • promote high environmental standards and coordinate the management of sea areas;
  • cooperate at international level as regards disaster management;
  • cooperate on energy efficiency and primary energy savings.

The living conditions of indigenous peoples and the local population may be particularly affected by climate change and globalisation. The Commission therefore proposes to:

  • engage the population in regular political dialogue;
  • support self-driven development and lifestyle protection;
  • protect marine mammals whilst authorising their regulated hunting for the subsistence needs of the population.

The Arctic region must be a priority area for research, but also for the monitoring and assessment of environmental processes. In this regard, the Commission proposes to:

  • better assess the melting of ice and its effects on ecosystems;
  • develop infrastructures;
  • coordinate activities at international level;
  • develop surveillance from space (GMES system), and create an Arctic component in the Global Earth Observing System of Systems.

Sustainable use of resources

There are untapped hydrocarbon reserves in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Arctic States. However, their exploitation is subject to risks due to climate conditions and the fragility of the environment. The EU possesses sustainable exploitation technologies, and the Commission proposes, in particular, to:

  • cooperate on exploitation and the sustainable transport of resources, particularly with Norway and Russia;
  • comply with strict environmental standards with a binding international dimension;
  • promote research and development;
  • create groups associating universities, research centres and enterprises, in order to foster innovation.

Fisheries may be modified by climate change. Some sea areas are not covered by an international conservation and sustainable exploitation regime. The Commission therefore proposes to regulate the Arctic high seas area and extend the mandate of the organisations managing marine resources.

Concerning transport, the melting of ice opens up new opportunities for navigation. Such waterways would allow energy savings to made, emissions to be reduced, and congestion in current channels to be alleviated. The Commission encourages the gradual introduction of commercial navigation in the Arctic, whilst complying with:

  • mandatory international navigation rules on maritime safety, the environment and labour legislation;
  • the prohibition of discrimination by Arctic States as regards merchant vessels from third countries;
  • competition law.

Furthermore, in view of developments in tourism in the Arctic, the Commission supports improvements in passenger safety, and respect for the environment and the local population.

International governance

The North Pole and the Arctic Ocean are subject to an international legal framework. This framework comprises mainly the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and general provisions on the exploitation of resources and protection of the environment. High seas areas are managed by the International Seabed Authority.

Countries participating in the Arctic Council and the Nordic Council cooperate at regional level. Similarly, the EU is applying the Northern Dimension policy to develop its cooperation with Norway, Iceland and Russia.

The EU wishes to uphold the development of a cooperative Arctic governance system at global level, by improving existing legal instruments. In this context, the Commission proposes to:

  • assess international agreements and maritime delimitation processes;
  • improve ecosystem management, and create a Marine Protected Area Network;
  • increase the EU’s contribution to the Arctic Council;
  • promote cross-border and regional cooperation;
  • apply the European strategy for the marine environment in the EEA and part of the Arctic Ocean.

This summary is provided for information purposes only. It does not aim to interpret or replace the reference document, which shall remain the only legally binding instrument.

Access to justice in environmental matters

Access to justice in environmental matters

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Access to justice in environmental matters

Topics

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Environment > General provisions

Access to justice in environmental matters

Proposal

Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council 24 October 2003 on access to justice in environmental matters (presented by the Commission).

Summary

This proposal establishes a set of minimum requirements on access to administrative and judicial procedures in environmental matters. It thus transposes the third pillar of the Århus Convention into Community law and the law of the Member States.

Acts and omissions by private persons

The Member States guarantee that members of the public (natural or legal persons and their associations, organisations or groups) may initiate administrative or judicial procedures against acts or omissions of private persons that do not respect environmental law.

Acts and omissions by public authorities

Member States will ensure that members of the public have access to administrative or judicial proceedings against administrative acts or omissions which infringe environmental law if they have a sufficient interest or if they show that their rights have been affected.

Member States guarantee that qualified entities (associations, groups or organisations recognised by a Member State whose objective is protecting the environment) may initiate administrative or judicial proceedings against violations of environmental law, without showing a sufficient interest or impairment of a right if the subject of the procedure is within the scope of their statutory and geographically relevant activities. Qualified entities recognised in a Member State may have recourse to such proceedings in another Member State.

Members of the public and qualified entities who have access to justice against an act or an omission must be able to submit a request for internal review. This request is a preliminary procedure under which the person or entity concerned can contact the public authority designated by the Member State before initiating legal or administrative proceedings. It must be submitted within four weeks of the date of the administrative act or omission. The public authority then has 12 weeks to take a written and reasoned decision and notify it to the party that submitted the request. In the decision, the authority should describe the measures necessary to comply with environmental law or, where appropriate, reject the request. If the authority cannot take a decision, it should inform the party submitting the request as soon as possible. If the authority fails to respond to the request within the period fixed for this purpose or if its decision does not enable compliance with environmental law, the party submitting the request may initiate an administrative or judicial procedure.

Recognition of qualified entities

The Member States should lay down a procedure for recognising qualified entities. They may choose between a preliminary procedure and a case-by-case (ad hoc) procedure. A qualified entity must always meet the following criteria:

  • operate on a non-profit basis and pursue the objective of protecting the environment;
  • have an organisational structure enabling it to achieve its objectives;
  • be legally constituted and have experience in environmental protection;
  • have its annual accounts certified by a registered auditor.

Administrative and judicial procedures

The administrative and judicial procedures provided for in this proposal must be objective, effective, adequate, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.

Context: the Århus Convention

The Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (Århus Convention) was signed by the European Community and its Member States in June 1998. Apart from the present proposal, two others presented in October 2003 were intended to give final approval to the Convention and apply its provisions to the Community’s institutions and bodies.

The Århus Convention consists of three pillars. The first pillar, concerning the public’s access to information, was implemented by the Community in Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information. The second one, transposed by Directive 2003/35/EC, concerns public participation in environmental procedures. The third pillar relates to public access to justice in environmental matters. The present proposal for a directive is intended to implement this third pillar of the Convention.

The Århus Convention is based on the idea that improving public access to information and justice and greater public participation in decision making in environmental matters lead to better application of environmental law.

References And Procedure

Proposal Official Journal Procedure
COM(2003) 624 final Codecision COD/2003/246

2007 Environment Policy Review

2007 Environment Policy Review

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about 2007 Environment Policy Review

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Environment > General provisions

2007 Environment Policy Review

The 2007 Environment Policy Review reports on progress in European Union (EU) policy during 2007 and analyses coming challenges.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 2 July 2008 “2007 Environment policy review” [COM(2008) 409 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission highlights that a certain number of decisive steps were taken in 2007 in European Union environmental policy, with in particular the endorsement by the European Council of the energy and climate change package. In January 2008, the Commission translated the commitments into concrete action by adopting a Climate Action and Renewable Energy implementation package which includes proposals on the improvement of the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme, the participation of Member States in efforts to reduce emissions from non-ETS sectors, the promotion of renewable energies and the geological storage of carbon. The Commission also published new guidelines on State aid for the protection of the environment.

In other fields, the commitments under theEnvironment Action Programme have almost all been delivered. The Commission presented seven thematic strategies (air, waste prevention and recycling, marine environment, soil, pesticides, natural resources and urban environment) and the accompanying legislative proposals have been adopted or are being adopted. Moreover, an Industrial Emissions Directive has been adopted. The REACH Regulation, the Environmental Liability Directive and the Regulation on hazardous waste shipment came into force.

Financial instruments

New financial instruments for environmental policy became operational in 2007, including LIFE+, the Thematic programme for the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources, including energy, and the financial instrument for civil protection.

“Better Regulation”

The Commission has also continued to take action to simplify legislation and to improve its efficiency, in particular by presenting a Green Paper devoted to market-based instruments and guidelines to clarify standards for monitoring and declaring greenhouse gas emissions.

The environment in other policies

Integration of the environment into other policies progressed in 2007, particularly in transport with the entry into force of the Regulation on pollutant emissions from light vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards) and proposals on new norms for CO2 emissions from new vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles, and on fuel quality. This integration has also been continued in the fields of agriculture, cohesion policy, development, health, industrial policy, research and commercial policy.

International

Internationally, 2007 was marked in particular by the decision taken in Bali to work on a global agreement on the warming of the climate system after 2012, the decision of the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to declare a nine-year moratorium on ivory sales, and the launch of negotiations between the Commission, Indonesia, Ghana and Cameroon on logging.

Challenges in 2008 and beyond

Despite progress made in 2007, the Commission highlights that efforts must not be relaxed because there are still many challenges ahead. It also stresses the need to strengthen implementation of environmental policy, which is often slow or incomplete in Member States. To this end, the Commission will step up its efforts to support Member States through better information exchange, guidance and training.

In 2008, the Commission will present an Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production, a revision of the Community Eco-Management and Audit System (EMAS) and the Ecolabel scheme, and will present a White Paper on adaptation to climate change.

Context

This annual activity report aims at ensuring that the 6th Environment Action Programme is monitored. It also aims to contribute to the Lisbon Process and the European Sustainable
Development Strategy.

Debate on the eco-labelling of fisheries products

Debate on the eco-labelling of fisheries products

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Debate on the eco-labelling of fisheries products

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Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Debate on the eco-labelling of fisheries products

At the end of June 2005 the Commission launched a debate on a Community approach towards eco-labelling schemes for fisheries products. It evaluates the current situation as regards eco-labelling and puts forward objectives, accompanied by available options for the level of regulation by the public authorities.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee – “Launching a debate on a Community approach towards eco-labelling schemes for fisheries products” [COM(2005) 275 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The need to discuss eco-labelling * schemes was first addressed in a Commission Communication on the Future for the Market on Fisheries Products in the EU in December 1997. However, no progress was made on the issue due to differing views on how a common approach should be implemented. The importance of ensuring more sustainable exploitation of the marine environment has since increased considerably with the introduction in 2002 of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. As consumers are demonstrating a growing interest in these labels and as significant progress has already been made, eco-labelling seems to be one way of further integrating the environmental aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy. The progress made as part of this policy opens up the issue of eco-labelling schemes.

The recent increase in the number of eco-labelled products creates difficulties in terms of competition, trade and consumer protection policies and has put the issue back on the agenda.

International momentum has also been created with the adoption of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) guidelines on “eco-labelling for fish and fisheries products from marine fisheries” and attention should be given to the work in the FAO and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on this issue.

Existing eco-labelling schemes

Existing schemes use different certification criteria, and in some cases are liable to cause market access problems. There prove to be reserves on the part of developing countries which fear their products may be excluded from the markets of developed countries. Furthermore, it is not always easy to ascertain the credibility of environmental claims displayed on the labels and the criteria used for issuing the label.

Work on eco-labelling in international fora

Despite the commitment under the Doha Development Agenda, the debate within the WTO has still not resulted in a better synergy between trade, development and environment policies. However, the FAO Committee on Fisheries adopted guidelines for eco-labelling at its 26th meeting in March 2005. The Commission was involved in drawing up these guidelines and fully supports them.

Objectives of a Community approach

The Commission considers that eco-labelling must stimulate consumer awareness of the environmental dimension of fishing and thereby give managers in the sector the financial incentive to go above and beyond the requirements of existing ecology rules. The Community policy should ensure:

  • sustainable fisheries and an adequate level of protection of the ecosystem;
  • a harmonised approach throughout the Community;
  • transparent and objective information for consumers. Information must be clear and verifiable in accordance with the consumer protection policy;
  • fair competition;
  • labelling schemes are not prohibitive for small and medium enterprises or developing countries.

Possible levels of regulation

The Commission feels there are three options. The public authorities therefore have the choice between:

  • non-action;
  • creating a single Community eco-labelling scheme;
  • establishing minimum requirements for voluntary private and/or public eco-labelling schemes.

Having assessed the advantages and disadvantages of each option, the Commission is in favour of the third one as it would offer enough flexibility and would be proportionate in terms of costs. It would also offer an appropriate level of consumer protection.

The key points of the assessment carried out by the Commission include:

  • The cost in terms of the administrative resources needed for action by the public authorities, and the expertise needed within the public authorities to take this action.
  • Ease of access to the schemes for small and medium sized enterprises and developing countries.
  • The transparency, credibility and reliability of the assessments carried out by eco-labelling schemes.
  • Integration into a certification procedure carried out by a third party.
  • The risk of market distortion, or even fragmentation, and restrictions on the free circulation of goods and on market access.
  • A division between private sector initiatives and public sector regulatory activities.
  • The flexibility of the schemes and therefore their ability to adapt their requirements to any developments without being discriminatory.
  • The coherence between various schemes which apply different criteria for awarding their eco-label, such as ecological stock management, protecting the ecosystem or the fishing technique used.

The debate

Before arriving at a real Community approach to eco-labelling a debate must be held on some key questions, such as:

  • What should an eco-labelling scheme certify?
  • How to ensure a non-contradictory approach whilst simultaneously offering a high degree of voluntary participation and feasibility?
  • How to use fully the potential of schemes to promote sustainable fisheries, while yielding real benefits for fishermen, processors and consumers?
  • Should the approach be more result oriented or means oriented?

Background

This Communication invites the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee, the members of the European Economic Area and all interested parties to participate in the debate on a Community eco-labelling policy.

As a result of to the debate the Commission may be able to put forward appropriate legislative proposals.

Key terms used in the act
  • Eco-labelling: an eco-labelling scheme under which a product can bear a distinctive logo or statement by which consumers are assured that the product in question has been produced according to a given set of environmental standards.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 16 December 1997 – The future for the market in fisheries products in the European Union: responsibility, partnership and competitiveness [COM(1997) 719 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 28 May 2002 setting out a Community Action Plan to integrate environmental protection requirements into the Common Fisheries Policy [COM(2002) 186 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

An Energy Policy for Europe

An Energy Policy for Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about An Energy Policy for Europe

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Tackling climate change

An Energy Policy for Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament of 10 January 2007, “An energy policy for Europe” [COM(2007) 1 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication, a strategic review of the European energy situation, introduces a complete set of European Energy Policy measures (the ‘energy’ package).

JUSTIFICATIONS FOR A EUROPEAN ENERGY POLICY

The European Union (EU) faces serious energy challenges concerning sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions as well as security of supply, import dependence and the competitiveness and effective implementation of the internal energy market.

A European Energy Policy is acknowledged as the most effective response to these challenges, which are faced by all Member States.

The EU intends to lead a new industrial revolution and create a high efficiency energy economy with low CO2 emissions. To do so, it has set itself several important energy objectives.

ESTABLISH THE INTERNAL ENERGY MARKET

An internal energy market has been developed on a Community level to ensure that consumers have the opportunity to choose a supplier, at a fair and competitive price. Nevertheless, as highlighted by the Communication on prospects for the internal energy market and the inquiry into competition in the gas and electricity sectors, there are obstacles which continue to prevent both the economy and European consumers from fully benefiting from the advantages of opening up the gas and electricity markets. Ensuring the effective implementation of the internal energy market thus remains crucial.

A competitive market

There must be a clearer separation between the management of gas and electricity networks and production or sales activities.

If a company controls the management of networks as well as production or sales, there is a serious risk of discrimination and abuse. A vertically integrated company has little interest in increasing the capacity of the network and thereby exposing itself to increased competition on the market and a consequent fall in prices.

A separation between the management of networks and production or sales will encourage companies to invest more in networks, thereby promoting the entry onto the market of new arrivals and increasing security of supply.

This separation may either be achieved through the establishment of an Independent System Operator responsible for the maintenance, development and operation of the networks, which remain the property of the vertically integrated companies, or through full ownership unbundling.

An integrated and interconnected market

The internal energy market is essentially dependent on cross-border trade in energy. However, such trade is often difficult because of the disparity between national technical standards and differences in network capacity.

Effective regulation on a Community level is required. The competences and independence of energy regulators need to be harmonised, their collaboration must be reinforced and they must be obliged to take into account the Community objective of realising the internal energy market and defining regulatory and technical aspects and common security standards required for cross-border trade on a Community level.

With the goal of making the European energy network a reality, the Priority Interconnection Plan highlights the importance of financial and political support for implementing the infrastructures which have been identified as essential and of nominating European coordinators for monitoring the most problematic priority projects.

An energy public service

The EU is determined to persevere with its fight against energy poverty by developing an Energy Customers’ Charter. The charter will principally encourage the implementation of aid schemes for the most vulnerable citizens in the face of increasing energy prices and also the improvement of the level of information consumers receive concerning the different suppliers and supply options.

ENSURE A SECURE ENERGY SUPPLY

Minimising the EU’s vulnerability concerning imports, shortfalls in supply, possible energy crises and uncertainty with respect to future supply is a clear priority. This uncertainty is all the more problematic for Member States dependent on one single gas supplier.

The new energy policy emphasises the importance of measures which ensure solidarity between Member States and of the diversification of supply sources and transportation routes.

Measures supporting strategic oil stocks must be reinforced and the possibilities for improving the security of gas supply must be explored. Increased security of electricity supply, which remains crucial, must also be guaranteed.

REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Energy accounts for 80 % of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

Determined to fight against climate change, the EU is committed to reducing its own emissions by at least 20 % by 2020. It also calls for the conclusion of an international agreement which will oblige developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % by 2020. In the framework of this agreement, the EU would set itself a new objective of reducing its own emissions by 30 % compared with 1990 levels. These objectives are at the heart of the EU’s strategy for limiting climate change.

Of course, reducing greenhouse gas emissions involves using less energy and using more clean energy.

Energy efficiency

Reducing its energy consumption by 20 % by 2020 is the objective the EU has set itself in its Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (2007-2012).

Concrete effort needs to be made to achieve this objective, in particular with respect to energy saving in the transport sector, the development of minimum efficiency requirements for energy-using appliances, awareness-raising amongst consumers about sensible and economic energy use, improving the efficiency of the production, transport and distribution of heating and electricity and also developing energy technologies and improving the energy performance of buildings.

The EU also intends to achieve a common approach on a global scale for saving energy through the conclusion of an international agreement on energy efficiency.

Renewable energy

The use of renewable energies (wind power, solar and photovoltaic energy, biomass and biofuels, geothermal energy and heat-pump systems) undeniably contributes to limiting climate change. Furthermore, it plays a part in securing energy supply and creating employment in Europe, thanks to the increase in the production and consumption of local energy.

Renewable energies, however, remain on the fringe of the European energy mix as they still cost more than traditional energy sources.

To increase the use of renewable energy sources, in its Renewable Energies Roadmap the EU has set itself the objective of increasing the proportion of renewable energies in its energy mix by 20 % by 2020.

This objective requires progress to be made in the three main sectors where renewable energies are used: electricity (increasing the production of electricity from renewable sources and allowing the sustainable production of electricity from fossil fuels, principally through the implementation of CO2 capture and storage systems), biofuels, which should represent 10 % of vehicle fuels by 2020, and finally heating and cooling systems.

DEVELOP ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

Energy technologies play a central role in offering both competitiveness and sustainability in the energy sector while increasing security of supply. They are likewise crucial for attaining the other energy objectives.

The EU, today a global leader in the renewable energy sector, intends to consolidate its position and play an equally leading role in the rapidly growing market for low carbon energy technologies.

The EU must therefore develop existing energy-efficient technologies as well as new technologies, in particular those devoted to energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Even if the EU considerably diversifies its energy mix, it will still be highly dependent on oil and coal and must thus also pay particular attention to low carbon-output fossil fuel technologies, especially carbon capture and storage systems.

Investment in these emerging technologies will directly contribute to the Community strategy for increasing employment.

The Commission proposes an outline for a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan which will cover the entire innovation process, from the initial research to entry onto the market. This strategic plan will support the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, which foresees a 50 % increase in spending on research in the energy sector, along with the Intelligent Energy for Europe programme.

CONSIDER THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Faced with increasing concerns with regard to security of supply and CO2 emissions, nuclear energy has the benefit of being one of the low-carbon energy sources offering the most stable costs and supply.

The decision whether or not to use nuclear energy is made by Member States. Nevertheless, the illustrative nuclear programme emphasises the need to have a common and coherent approach with respect to security, safety and non-proliferation as well as concerning the dismantling of installations and the management of waste.

IMPLEMENT A COMMON INTERNATIONAL ENERGY POLICY

The EU is not able to achieve the objective of secure, competitive and sustainable energy alone. To do so requires the involvement and cooperation of both developed and developing countries, energy consumers and producers and countries of transit. To ensure efficiency and coherence, it is crucial that Member States and the EU are able to speak with a single voice on international energy issues.

The EU will be a driving force in the development of international energy agreements, in particular by strengthening the European Energy Charter, taking the initiative in an agreement on energy efficiency and participating actively in the post-Kyoto climate change scheme.

EU relations with consumer countries (such as the United States, India, Brazil or China), producer countries (Russia, Norway, OPEC countries and Algeria, for example) and countries of transit (such as the Ukraine) are of prime importance from the perspective of geopolitical security and economic stability. The EU will thus strive to develop energy partnerships with these countries which are transparent, predictable and reciprocal, in particular with its neighbouring countries. The EU also proposes a new partnership with Africa which will deal with a large variety of energy issues.

The EU is committed to helping developing countries to implement decentralised energy services which are low-cost, reliable and sustainable. The EU encourages these countries, in particular Africa, to immediately invest in renewable energies and the new generation of clean energy technologies.

BACKGROUND

The development of a European energy policy was at the heart of the European project, with the ECSC Treaty (establishing the European Coal and Steel Community) in 1951 and the Euratom Treaty (establishing the European Atomic Energy Community) in 1957. Despite economic and geopolitical changes since, it remains essential today.

The Energy Package presented by the European Commission on 10 January 2007 is part of the movement begun by the Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy in March 2006 and once again places energy at the heart of European activities.

Based on the Energy Package, the Heads of State and Government at the spring European Council on 9 March 2007 adopted a comprehensive energy Action Plan for the period 2007-2009 .

Green Paper on energy efficiency

Green Paper on energy efficiency

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on energy efficiency

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Tackling climate change

Green Paper on energy efficiency

The Commission wishes to relaunch European Union (EU) action in energy saving using this Green Paper. It invites public authorities to make citizens and businesses more accountable by rewarding energy saving behaviour. Energy efficiency is a major challenge as current developments in energy consumption threaten the environment and the economic growth of the EU. Efforts must be made in the transport, energy production and building sectors in particular.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Green Paper, 22 June 2005, “Energy Efficiency – or Doing More With Less” [COM(2005) 265 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Why save energy?

The EU depends on energy imports for 50% of its current consumption, a figure that could reach 70% by 2030. This high level of dependence is added to the expected depletion of traditional energy resources and the insufficient development of renewable resources, three factors that require energy demand to be controlled in order to do more with less.

In the Green Paper, the Commission estimates that the EU could reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2020, which would release a sum of EUR 60 billion per year for other investments. Such a level of saving would have a positive impact on EU citizens in two ways. It would reinforce the competitiveness of European industry within the framework of the Lisbon agenda and could lead to the creation of a million jobs in related fields (transport management, high energy efficiency technologies, etc.). A 20% energy saving would also allow the EU to meet its Tokyo commitments by reducing CO2 emissions in order to protect a healthy environment for the citizens of today and tomorrow.

In which areas could energy efficiency be strengthened?

If current consumption trends continue, energy consumption in Europe will rise by 10% in the next fifteen years. The Commission intends to reverse this trend by combating the main forms of energy waste.

The first sector with a high energy saving potential is transport, representing a third of the EU’s total consumption. The dominance of road transport and its high level petrol dependence are accompanied by congestion and pollution problems which add to energy waste.

Another area affected by the improvement of energy efficiency is energy production itself. Depending on the technology used, 40 to 60% of energy necessary for electricity production is lost in the production process.

Finally, important progress can be made in the buildings sector, either in houses or offices. Heating and lighting buildings counts for nearly 40% of energy used in the EU and could be managed more efficiently.

Applying existing measures and thinking of new ones

The Commission emphasises energy saving actions already launched at European level. Out of the 20% of possible savings that could be made by 2020, 10% could result from the full application of existing legislation, particularly in the transport, heat production and buildings sectors. Effectively implementing the Intelligent Energy – Europe (2007-13) programme is equally important before launching new initiatives. Instruments for improving energy efficiency in the EU exist and so must be used.

The other 10% of energy savings require new laws and new behaviour to be adopted by all players concerned, i.e. across all public authorities, industries and individuals. The Commission therefore proposes practical energy saving measures in different sectors to meet the objective of 20% by 2020.

Avenues opened by the Green Paper

In the transport sector, tax schemes favouring clean and economical vehicles must be put in place to ensure that the polluter really pays. Similarly, manufacturers supporting energy efficiency must be rewarded and consumers must be made accountable for issues such as tyre pressure, use of public transport and car pools. The Commission also wishes to finance research and the development of alternative fuels. Finally, it calls for better road and air traffic management on a continental scale to limit congestion and pollution, particularly by using the applications of the GALILEO programme.

In the buildings sector, the Commission intends to encourage industry and consumers to use their energy better through more economical technology and behaviour. Replacing light bulbs, boilers and refrigerators with better performing appliances should be encouraged. However, the stand-by function in electrical appliances seems to be a significant source of electricity waste. The Commission points out that households can save significant amounts by being more careful with their energy use, and invites construction companies to apply the legislation transposed at national level in 2006.

In the industrial sector, the Commission invites businesses to invest in more efficient technology to produce more with less energy. Public authorities must be ready to take action if market mechanisms are not sufficient to give an incentive for energy saving. In the long term, investing in efficient technology allows businesses to reduce their production costs and to be more competitive. Europe can also reinforce its place in the energy efficient technology market and lead the debate on energy saving on a global level.

Background

Five years after the Commission’s action plan of 2000-06 on energy efficiency, this Green Paper attempts to relaunch the debate at all levels of European society, to find solutions adapted to this urgent and universal problem. Consultation with all interested parties should lead to concrete measures, for example national action plans to establish best practice in terms of energy saving. This would allow the EU to operate at the centre of the international effort against climate change and depletion of energy resources.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission – Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential [COM(2006) 545 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Green Paper

, of 29 November 2000, “Towards a European Strategy for the Security of Energy Supply” [COM(2000) 769 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Communication from the Commission

to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 26 April 2000, “Action Plan to improve energy efficiency in the European Community” [COM(2000) 247

final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 29 April 1998 “Energy efficiency in the European Community – Towards a strategy for the rational use of energy” [COM(1998) 246

final – Not published in the Official Journal].

 

Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms

Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Specific themes

Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC. [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The main aim of this Directive is to make the procedure for granting consent for the deliberate release and placing on the market of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) more efficient and more transparent, to limit such consent to a period of ten years (renewable) and to introduce compulsory monitoring after GMOs have been placed on the market.

It also provides for a common methodology to assess case-by-case the risks for the environment associated with the release of GMOs (the principles applying to environmental risk assessment are set out in Annex II to the Directive), common objectives for the monitoring of GMOs after their deliberate release or placing on the market, and a mechanism allowing the release of the GMOs to be modified, suspended or terminated where new information becomes available on the risks of such release.

Public consultation and GMO labelling are made compulsory under the new Directive. The system of exchange of information contained in notifications, set up under Directive 90/220/EEC, is maintained. The Commission is obliged to consult the competent scientific committees on any question which may affect human health and/or the environment. It may also consult ethical committees. The Directive requires registers to be established for the purpose of recording information on genetic modifications in GMOs and on the location of GMOs. Rules on the operation of these registers are laid down in Decision 2004/204/EC (see related acts).

Every three years, the Commission must publish a summary of the measures taken in the Member States to implement the Directive, and a report on experience with GMOs placed on the market. This report should include a separate chapter on the socio-economic advantages and disadvantages of each type of GMO authorised to be placed on the market, taking due account of the interests of farmers and consumers (the first report was due to be published in 2003). An annual report on ethical issues will also be published. The Directive invited the Commission to present a proposal for implementing the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety, which led to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 1946/2003 on transboundary movements of genetically modified organisms.

Directive 90/220/EEC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms will be repealed by the present Directive from 17 October 2002.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2001/18/EC

17.4.2001

17.10.2002

OJ L 106 of 17.4.2001

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003

07.11.2003

OJ L 268 of 18.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003

07.11.2003

OJ L 268 of 18.10.2003

Directive 2008/27/EC

21.3.2008

OJ L 81 of 20.3.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2001/18/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version  is for information only.

Related Acts

GMOs placed on the market in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC
Decision 2010/135/EU – potato product EH92-527-1 [Official Journal L 53 of 4.3.2010];
Decision 2009/244/EC – carnation 123.8.12 [Official Journal L 72 of 18.3.2009];
Decision 2007/364/EC – carnation 123.2.38 [Official Journal L 138 of 30.5.2007];
Decision 2007/232/EC – oilseed rape products Ms8, Rf3 and Ms8xRf3 [Official Journal L 100 of 17.4.2007];
Decision 2006/47/EC – maize product MON863 x MON810 [Official Journal L 26 of 31.1.2006];
Decision 2005/772/EC – maize product 1507 [Official Journal L 291 of 5.11.2005].
Decision 2005/635/EC – oilseed rape product GT73 [Official Journal L 228 of 3.9.2005];
Decision 2005/608/EC – maize product MON 863 [Official Journal L 207 of 10.8.2005];
Decision 2004/643/EC – maize product NK603 [Official Journal L 295 of 18.9.2004].

Information gathering and dissemination

Commission Decision 2005/463/EC of 21 June 2005 establishing a network group for the exchange and coordination of information concerning coexistence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops [Official Journal L 164 of 24.6.2005].

Commission Decision 2004/204/EC of 23 February 2004 laying down detailed arrangements for the operation of the registers for recording information on genetic modifications in GMOs, provided for in Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 65 of 3.3.2004].
Pursuant to Directive 2001/18/EC, the Commission must establish one or more registers recording information on genetic modifications in GMOs. The Decision specifies that the registers will contain information accessible to the public, and information accessible only to the Member States, the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority. The information which must be recorded includes:

  • detailed information on the person responsible for the deliberate release or the placing on the market;
  • general information concerning the GMO(s) (the commercial and scientific names, the Member State concerned, the decision to authorise the GMO, etc.);
  • information on the DNA inserted into the GMO;
  • information on detection and identification tools;
  • information on the lodging, storage and supply of samples.

Commission Decision 2003/701/EC of 29 September 2003 establishing, pursuant to Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, a format for presenting the results of the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified higher plants for purposes other than placing on the market Official Journal L 254 of 8.10.2003.

Summary notification format

Council Decision 2002/813/EC of 3 October 2002 establishing, pursuant to Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, the summary notification information format for notifications concerning the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms for purposes other than for placing on the market Official Journal L 280 of 18.10.2002.

Council Decision 2002/812/EC of 3 October 2002 establishing pursuant to Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council the summary information format relating to the placing on the market of genetically modified organisms as or in products Official Journal L 280 of 18.10.2002.

Explanatory notes on the annexes

Council Decision 2002/811/EC of 3 October 2002 establishing guidance notes supplementing Annex VII to Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC Official Journal L 280 of 18.10.2002.

Commission Decision 2002/623/EC of 24 July 2002 establishing guidance notes supplementing Annex II to Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC Official Journal L 200 of 30.7.2002.

Reports

Second report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 5 March 2007 on the experience of Member States with GMOs placed on the market under Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms [COM(2007) 81 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Between October 2002 and October 2005, 13 applications to place genetically modified plants on the market were submitted in 8 Member States and led to the authorisation of 5 products:

  • NK603 maize from Monsanto Europe S.A;
  • MON863 maize from Monsanto Europe S.A;
  • GT73 oilseed rape from Monsanto Europe S.A;
  • 1507 maize from Pioneer Hi-Bred International INC and Mycogen Seeds;
  • MON863 x MON810 maize from Monsanto Europe S.A.

Moreover, in the same period, 245 applications for the release of GMOs for purposes other than for placing on the market (e.g. for research purposes) submitted to 13 Member States led to 191 authorisations (with 23 applications pending in October 2005).
Those Member States which have handled applications are generally positive about their experience with the implementation of the Directive, despite a number of technical issues which have yet to be adequately addressed. Other stakeholders have tended to be less positive in their assessment of the Directive. Some Member States have called for more guidance on specific aspects of environmental risk assessment and increased harmonisation of the process of release for research purposes. The majority of Member States has emphasised the need for a legal instrument establishing seeds’ thresholds.

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 31 August 2004 on the experience of Member States with GMOs placed on the market under Directive 2001/18/EC and incorporating a specific report on the operation of parts B and C of the Directive [COM(2004) 575 – not published in the Official Journal].
This report concerns only 15 Member States as the reference period for this report ended before the accession of the new Member States (1 May 2004). The vast majority of GMOs that have been developed for deliberate release are transgenic crop plants, modified for tolerance to certain herbicides or resistance to certain insect pests. Despite the fairly limited experience gained since this Directive entered into force, the report stresses that the Directive and the relevant Regulations (see below) help to increase confidence in the legislative framework and to increase the predictability of the decision-making process.