(Corrects previous version of story which incorrectly stated that Slovakia had opposed the MSR and backloading)
The Netherlands, assuming the role of EU presidency holder, has drafted plans to hold two meetings of the bloc’s environment ministers over the next six months that could both feature pivotal negotiations affecting the EU ETS.
A “forward-looking” climate and energy policy was identified as one of four priorities by the Netherlands, alongside migration/international security, innovation/job creation and sound finances.
It said the Dutch presidents will focus on following up on the December UN Paris climate summit and making progress on reforming the EU ETS, along with other sector priorities including a circular economy package on waste and how the EU will implement sustainable development goals.
According to the presidency’s provisional agenda, the formal Environment Council meeting of environment ministers planned for Mar. 4 will include following up on Paris and is likely to include whether the EU should review its 2030 goals as a result of the deal struck last month.
Just after the Paris summit, Europe’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said it would be for the next Commission to propose from 2019 whether to alter the 2030 goals, but several member states flagged last October the need for a review process.
UK MEP Ian Duncan has said the Paris Agreement’s reference to a 1.5C temperature goal may force the EU to at least reframe its goal, which was calibrated to meet a 2C goal only.
On Apr. 14-15, the Netherlands also plans an informal council meeting between both environment and transport ministers.
The Dutch presidents have scheduled a second formal Environment Council meeting on June 20, which will debate the post-2020 ETS reform proposal, following initial soundings at last October’s talks.
The member states are working in parallel with the EU Parliament, which is holding a series of expert discussions leading up to drafting a response to the proposal in April or May, to be heard in the assembly’s environment committee before its August summer break.
The Parliament’s draft timetable foresees a vote in the committee in September, after which it could be possible to enter fast-track negotiations with the Council of member states and have the bill formally agreed by the end of the year.
The next two countries to hold the rotating six-month EU presidency will be Slovakia and Malta.
The Slovak presidency in particular could be pivotal for the EU ETS reform proposal as the file is currently scheduled to be finalised on its watch.
While the EU presidents are meant to act politically neutral and steer any carbon market reform negotiations in an objective manner, Slovakia supported the two previous carbon market reforms of Backloading and MSR initiatives – efforts aimed at addressing the massive supply glut weighing on the ETS.
Council presidencies up to mid-2020:
Netherlands: January-June 2016
Slovakia: July-December 2016
Malta: January-June 2017
UK: July-December 2017
Estonia: January-June 2018
Bulgaria: July-December 2018
Austria: January-June 2019
Romania: July-December 2019
Finland: January-June 2020
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org