Environmental protection groups are fighting the latest EU draft environmental protection legislation which they say will be far weaker than the ones already in place.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment and Public Health (CEPS) is due to vote on the legislation on Wednesday.EU ministers have warned they will not change the existing legislation.
However, environmentalists and environmental groups have warned the bill could lead to a lack of protection for areas such as marine protected areas, biodiversity hotspots, coastal erosion and wetlands.
The EU environmental protection agency, EP, says the draft law will give the Commission a greater ability to intervene and change policies.
“This will mean that the Commission will have more flexibility and will have the ability to take more aggressive action to address problems, including by limiting the size of the areas covered,” EP spokesman Jens Laerke told Al Jazeera.
“We have a long way to go in protecting our environment.”
Laerke said the draft legislation was a good starting point but there were more needed to improve the law.
“The draft law, despite being a positive step forward, is not going far enough.
It is not enough to protect biodiversity hotspot areas, but the draft has to be stronger,” he said.
He added that the draft was “not yet a good compromise” between environmental groups and the Commission, adding that the EU was “deeply concerned” about the draft’s protection of the marine protected area (MPOA) at Tarpon Springs, near the French-Italian border.’
Failing to protect vulnerable’In March this year, the EU Environment Agency (EEA) proposed new rules to protect the MPOA at Tarsus.
It proposed amendments that would have allowed MEPAs to protect up to 3,000 square kilometres (1,300 square miles) of marine protected waters, the first such area in the EU.
But the Commission rejected the amendments.
A few weeks later, MEPAs and environmental protection groups in the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC) signed a letter to EC President José Manuel Barroso urging him to veto the new measures.
Barroso said he was not persuaded by the EP’s position and the EP would not support the new draft.
“I am not convinced by this proposal,” Barrose told Aljazeera.
“For the first time in its history the EP will not be able to act on this.
And I would say this is a failure to protect nature, biodiversity and ecosystems.”
There is nothing new in the way the MEPAs are trying to protect these areas.
But we need to do better.
“The draft bill also seeks to create an EU agency to manage the environment, which critics fear could lead the Commission to act unilaterally.