The Council of the EU for the Environment and Eco-Innovation – final day

The third and last day of debates has marked the end of EUROmad, which for this 4th edition and for the commission of the EU for the Environment and Eco-Innovation, has ended successfully. As had been hoped, the text proposal passed and will be enacted, as the qualified majority voted in favor. If I’d said the second day was the most intense, then I was mistaken. Today was definitely the most grueling day of debate. 

Though shorter than the others, two sections still remained to be processed before proceeding to the final vote. Section 3 discussed Compensation Measures – which are eco-friendly and innovate the community – to EU citizens, in recognition of their effort to help fight the climate war. The debate started off with zeal. The delegates were keen and provided elaborate explanations to convince everybody.

So far, the most taxing and time-consuming section was the third, with delegates proposing amendments and modifications left and right. Article 1 requested that all EU members add ecological points – points of vegetation and/or water – to all city centers in hopes of diminishing transport pollution and traffic. An amendment by the delegation of Germany is presented and the majority approves. It accepts the introduction of these ecological points, but only in primary and secondary city centers. With this article, an ecological value will be added to those centers. No precise deadline is indicated for the completion of the new policy. 

The following articles in this section propose to give certain advantages to EU citizens who own electric or hybrid vehicles, as well as to add an extra tax on road-tolls to the vehicles that run on non-sustainable and polluting resources. In this case, Portugal proposes to make charging stations free for electric and hybrid cars, as an advantage. Portugal’s amendment for article 2 passes with 7 delegations voting in favor. For article 3, the discussion is particularly intense, with both Austria, Spain proposing amendments. In the end, a part of Austria’s amendment passes – suggesting making the tax price on road-tolls flexible depending on the type of vehicle. On the other hand, Spain’s article passes as such – taxes on road-tolls starting with the price of 1.5 euros for diesel cars and gradually decreasing for petrol and hybrid cars, enabling electric cars to be used for free. As this last amendment passes, it is made into a sub-article (3.1) of article 3.

The commission then moved on to the 4th and last section, which was assessed swiftly. Section 4 addressed funding. It suggested increasing the budget for investment in the Research and Development sector, as well as to compel EU members with the highest PIB to set aside a fund to help EU countries struggling with the transition to sustainability. Overall, after processing many amendments, the delegations decided to concur with both articles. This was done with minimal modifications to the original articles.

To end the last day of debate, the vote on the finalized proposal text was carried out. As stated above, the vote resulted with the qualified majority in favor. Each delegation had to vote in favor or against, or abstain in relation to all the amendments and articles proposed throughout this text, which was debated over three days. The delegates representing Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia and Sweden were absent. Their vote was presented as abstention. The results are 75% who voted in favor and 25% who abstained. Content with the results of the vote, the commission had one last session of Gossip Box, where a coordinated dance took place with all the delegates, commissioners and the presidency. And so, the 4th edition of EUROmad – the online edition at least –  has come to an end. The delegates will see each other again for a farewell on Friday, April 29th for the Closing Ceremony. 

Lisa Banti / S6EN / EEB1 Uccle

Reporter for EUROmad 2022

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