On 21 December, the ENVI Committee held an EoV with Commissioner Vella on the Circular Economy Package replacing the one presented last year, during which the various items of legislation in the Commission’s proposal were debated.
In the beginning of the month, during plenary debate, the MEPs generally welcomed the draft rules, but nevertheless criticized those on waste recycling, reducing food waste and landfill for aiming too low.

Commissioner Vella presented briefly the Package, noting that the Commission aimed to be realistic in its ambition and that it wanted to achieve real results, fine tuned to the economic circumstances in Member States, and not just put aspirations that look nice on paper. He added that the Commission also proposes an ambitious and comprehensive framework that comes in the shape of an action plan, defining areas that need to be addressed and covering the full lifecycle of products. He also informed MEPs that the Commission is currently testing an environmental footprint methodology that could be used in the future to better measure and to better inform the public on the environmental performance of products.

There were mixed responses from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): they appreciated the proposal as including the whole circle, but many again criticized the reduced targets and lack of concrete legislative action on food waste and resource efficiency while others questioned whether the new CEP was ambitious enough.

EPP MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, noted that he does not think that the package is more ambitions. He added that it is broader, but thus there are more loopholes built in. He said “It is regrettable that the ecological and economic effects which should be brought in by the circular economy are not made clear here. The industry is worried that this is a cost instrument but we have to make it clear that that this is an economic and ecological instrument which will ultimately help companies make more money.”

S&D MEP Simona Bonafè, responsible for the waste package in the European Parliament, noted that the Commission kept its promise to deliver the package before the end of the year. She added “there is a more balanced and holistic approach, the idea is that the CE is not only an environmental policy, it is also an economic policy that covers all stakeholders”. Among the areas that need further attention she pointed out the lack of specific targets on prevention, tackling food waste, making separate collection of waste mandatory and with clear deadlines.

ALDE MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy joined his colleagues noting that the proposal did not meet all expectations. Still he noted that there are points that are better like the definition of extended producer responsibility. He urged the Commission to come with much stronger legislative part of the action plan, which should be also much more concrete.