Details of how the chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) Matthias Groote is trying to fast-track back-loading are emerging, as the proposal is due to receive formal approval from the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) on Wednesday.
As reported by ICIS last week ( see EDCM 13 November 2013 ), Coreper – a committee which prepares the work of the European Council and consists of representatives from EU countries – will give the final green light to the text on 20 November, as the agenda shows.
Earlier this month, the committee gave the Lithuanian presidency the mandate to negotiate on the proposal with the Parliament in trilogue negotiations. But as countries agreed on the same text accepted by the Parliament in July, trilogue is redundant and Coreper will now approve the agreed text without further discussion. After this step, the proposal would be required to go back to the Parliament’s Environment committee (ENVI).
But ENVI chair Matthias Groote is trying instead to send the proposal directly to plenary. A European Parliament source told ICIS that Groote seeks to skip the ENVI stage by using two procedural rules (57 and 56).
While Parliament approved the back-loading text in July, it did not formalise its position, or legislative resolution, to allow for trilogue negotiations with the Council, the EU’s other lawmaking body ( see EDCM 3 July 2013 ). The aim was to speed up talks and agree a single text in the first reading.
According to rule 57, if Parliament postpones the vote on the legislative resolution, as it did in July, the issue is referred back to the relevant committee – the ENVI. The ENVI then has a maximum of two months to report back to Parliament. If it fails to meet this timeline, according to rule 56, the ENVI has to ask Parliament for a new deadline. If it rejects this request, Parliament directly moves on to the vote.
So Parliament has to reject the ENVI’s request for a new time-frame, to achieve Groote’s plan for the back-loading text to skip the committee stage.
A tentative plenary vote on back-loading is set for 10 December. After that, the proposal would still need the approval by either the Council of the European Union on 13 December or the European Council on 18-20 December.
As the measure under discussion is just a legal clarification of the powers of the European Commission to change the auction calendar, the EU’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) would then need to step in and decide the appropriate volumes of EU allowances (EUAs) to back-load and over what timescales – a decision that then requires three-month scrutiny.
The only limitation is that back-loading is possible for a maximum of 900m EUAs, according to the text approved by Parliament’s in July.
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed on Tuesday it expects the CCC to discuss the volume and timescale for back-loading already next month.
“We expect Member States to discuss [back-loading] at the next meeting of the CCC in Brussels in December,” a spokeswoman said. The CCC usually meets monthly, around mid-month.
The spokeswoman added that the UK government supports back-loading the maximum 900m EUA figure agreed on. “The UK supports a swift conclusion to the negotiations, so that back-loading can take place as early as possible in 2014 and allow for a focus on structural reform,” the spokeswoman added.
An impact assessment on the sectors deemed at risk of relocating outside the EU, where carbon costs are lower, is also necessary for back-loading to be implemented. The study is already underway ( see EDCM 12 November 2013 ). Silvia Molteni