§ Mr. Patrick Thompson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Environment Council on 15 and 16 December 1994.
§ Mr. Gummer
I attended the Environment Council in Brussels on 15 and 16 December with my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside. The Council reached a common position on the directive on polychlorinated biphenyls in a form acceptable to the United Kingdom. The Council decided by a qualified majority on a list of hazardous waste as required by directive 91/689. The UK and Italy voted against because the list contains wastes which, under certain circumstances, are not hazardous, and thereby contrary to the directive.
Council conclusions were agreed on a Community strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which, inter alia, reflected the view reached at the European summit at Essen on the possibility of an optional carbon and energy tax. Council conclusions were also agreed on the preparation of an EU position for the first conference of the parties to the framework convention on climate change.
During the discussion of the Commission's annual report on the implementation of Community law my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment and Countryside emphasised the need to consider the effectiveness of existing Community legislation in the real world and suggested that there should be an assessment of each piece of environmental legislation to see how successful it had been in meeting its objectives.
There were helpful discussions to prepare the EU position for the next meeting of the Commission for sustainable development and on the draft biocides 513W directive. Council conclusions were also agreed on transport and the environment following a useful debate during which I highlighted the very positive measures which the UK Government have already taken in this area.