The Spanish presidency of the EU Council began on July 1 this year and extends for six months. Making progress in the green transition and environmental adaptation is one of the presidency’s four overarching priorities. Spain intends to place special emphasis on completing the work on the Fit for 55 package and promoting the green economy and competitiveness of European companies, among other things. However, just under four weeks after the start of the presidency, early general elections were held in the country, and the composition of the government is still unclear at present. Spanish representatives have assured that the political situation should not affect the country’s high presidency ambitions, and let’s hope they are right. The following five climate issues are expected to be particularly important to keep an eye on during the autumn:
European Critical Raw Materials Act
The proposal, which was presented in the spring, has the overarching goal of ensuring the EU’s access to a secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials and aims to strengthen the various stages along the entire value chain. The accountability of these value chains is, of course, a prerequisite for achieving set goals, not least in the EU’s Green Deal. The issue seems to have been handled with high priority by both the Swedish government and the Council of Ministers. The proposal was referred for consultation in the spring and is expected to be further discussed in the Council by EU Ministers of Industry already in early autumn.
The review of carbon dioxide standards for heavy vehicles
The European Commission has proposed new stricter EU targets for carbon dioxide emissions from newly manufactured heavy road vehicles. These vehicles currently account for approximately 6 percent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions and constitute a significant part of the EU’s climate impact. This issue is also important for achieving the climate goal of net-zero emissions by no later than 2045. The proposal has been referred for consultation and was also discussed by the EU’s environment and climate ministers in the early summer. The Council is expected to adopt its position in the autumn, followed by final negotiations between the Council, the European Parliament, and the Commission.
Directive on green claims
During the spring, the Commission presented its proposal for a directive on green claims aimed at strengthening consumers’ ability to make informed decisions, preventing greenwashing, and reducing environmental and climate impacts. This is part of the implementation of the EU’s Green Deal and is also related to the EU’s action plan for a circular economy, among other things. The proposal, which is debated, was open for consultation during the summer. The Council will continue to discuss the matter in the fall, but ministers will likely adopt their final position at the earliest in the spring, during the Belgian presidency.
Certification framework for carbon capture and storage
Carbon capture is expected to play an increasingly important role in the EU’s climate policy, and the proposal, presented at the end of last year, is intended to contribute to and ensure high-quality actions for carbon capture and storage. The proposal also includes quality criteria, a verification and certification process, and rules for certification systems. EU’s environmental and climate ministers discussed the issue during the spring. The Spanish presidency will likely prioritize advancing this matter and aim to adopt the Council’s position before the end of its presidency.
The revised air quality directive
Last autumn, the proposal for a revised directive on air quality and cleaner air in Europe was presented. The proposal is a significant part of the Green Deal’s action plan for zero pollution of air, water, and soil. Among other things, it suggests measures for stricter air quality standards by 2030, clearer rules and requirements regarding air quality standards, and strengthened air quality monitoring requirements. Environmental and climate ministers discussed the issue most recently in early summer, and there are strong indications that the matter will continue to be addressed during the Spanish presidency.