CO2 emission cuts, biodiversity in focus of Slovenian EU presidency’s environment agenda

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Brussels – A demanding legislative package to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and biodiversity will be at the core of Slovenia’s EU presidency priorities in the field of environment in the second half of 2021, Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said during his visit to Brussels on Monday.

The European Commission is expected to present Fit for 55, as the legislative package has been dubbed, on 14 July.

On the same day, Vizjak will present Slovenia’s presidency priorities for the environment at the relevant European Parliament committee.

The package will set the course to achieve the political goal EU leaders settled for after hard talks last December, and will be the most important dossier Slovenia will receive.

“This will be a very comprehensive dossier covering 16 areas,” Vizjak said, adding that four fall under the environment portfolio.

The rest are related to areas such as transport, industry, energy and agriculture. “We’re in for some hard work,” he announced.

Debate on the package will only just begin during Slovenia’s six-month stint at the helm of the Council, with no concrete agreements yet expected.

The EU presidency’s goal will be to make as much progress by the end of 2021 as possible to hand the dossier over to France in as best shape as possible.

Biodiversity will be another key priority, and will be given roughly the same attention because it is an important topic for Slovenia, whose biodiversity is great.

The main goal is to involve the protection of biodiversity in all policies.

However, a key task of Slovenia’s presidency in the environment will be to prepare the EU’s mandate for two major international conferences, one on biodiversity to be held in China in 11-24 October, and the other on climate change scheduled for 1-12 November in Glasgow.

There will be many other areas on which the Slovenian presidency will be working, seeking to make as much progress as possible, including in legislation on batteries, a strategy on forests and the zero pollution action plan.

Vizjak discussed these priorities with European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius and with the chair of the European Parliament’s committee on the environment, public health and safe food, Pascal Canfin.

A meeting with European Commission Executive Vice President for the Green Deal Frans Timmermans was rescheduled due to his engagements, but the pair will meet via video call on Friday.

There will be three sessions of EU environment ministers during Slovenia’s presidency, of which one will be informal. It is planned to take place in Slovenia on 20-21 July.