(Please note: This story has been updated to include information received from a European Parliament source about the text now going straight to plenary and to include comments from MEP Korhola)
The back-loading text was signed off by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) early on Wednesday, the Lithuanian Presidency said in a statement, with the next step towards final approval now being the plenary in December.
Countries in the committee – tasked with preparing the work of the European Council – earlier this month agreed on the text given the green light by the Parliament in July.
Under the amendment passed by plenary, back-loading – aimed at supporting carbon prices by delaying some of the scheduled auction supply – can be done only once in phase III of the Emissions Trading System, for no more than 900m EU allowances, after an impact assessment of the carbon leakage risk for particular sectors.
The consensus made trilogue negotiations between the Council, Parliament and the Commission redundant.
Next stop: plenary
The proposal will now head directly to plenary, a European Parliament source said on Wednesday.
“No committee vote is needed – the text is identical. It will go straight to plenary,” the source said, after indications that this could happen emerged ( see EDCM 19 November 2013 ). A tentative date for the plenary has been set for 10 December.
But “the plenary agenda is to be confirmed always the week before, on Thursday, at the conference of political group presidents,” the source added.
On Tuesday, Finnish MEP Eija-Riitta Korhola – one of the most hard-liners against back-loading in the Parliament – said on Twitter that “nothing has changed” and that the European People Party’s lawmakers “still have all the reasons to reject” it in plenary.
After plenary, 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. Finally, the EU’s Climate Change Committee would need to decide the appropriate volumes of EU allowances to back-load and over what timescales – a decision that then requires three-month scrutiny. The committee is also expected to meet in December. Silvia Molteni