European Environment and Climate Ministers met in Brussels on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 January for an informal ministerial meeting to launch the work of the EU Council’s Environment configuration under the Belgian presidency. Monday’s discussions focused on the question of preparing for the risks associated with climate change and the challenges of a just transition. The ministers also exchanged views on the conditions needed to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. On Tuesday, the agenda centred on the circular economy and the issue of resource management.
The two-day Environment Council configuration, chaired by Alain Maron (Brussels Minister for the Environment), marked the first major meeting between European environment and climate ministers under the Belgian presidency of the EU Council.
On Monday, after a preview of the preliminary version of the European Climate Risk Assessment (EUCRA) to be published by the European Environment Agency in April, the ministers were invited to share their views on how the European Union should prepare for the impacts of climate disruption, which are becoming increasingly severe across Europe.
This was an important step towards harmonising visions and enabling ministers to work together on the priorities for the next European policy cycle so that the EU can strengthen its resilience and better prepare for the risks associated with climate change.
On the subject of a just transition, based on an opinion by the European Economic and Social Committee issued at the request of the Belgian presidency and presented by its rapporteur, the ministers examined the six key elements that should make up a common European policy framework aimed at promoting a climate-neutral, ecologically sustainable and fully circular society and economy by 2050.
Lastly, the ministers discussed the future of the circular economy at the heart of European policies after 2024. Based on the findings of the forthcoming Global Resources Outlook and State and Outlook Report on Circular Economy, the ministers examined how the circular economy can contribute to climate neutrality, biodiversity restoration and zero pollution. They also discussed how the EU governance framework can accelerate and strengthen the transition to a circular economy and the sustainable use of resources.
Two Councils of Environment Ministers are scheduled during the Belgian presidency, on 25 March in Brussels and 17 June in Luxembourg.
The European Commission will also respond to the European Environment Agency’s climate risk assessment, presented at Monday’s Environment Council, with a Communication on climate risk management, to be published in the spring
“We need to create the conditions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. We also need to ensure a just transition, while adapting our territories to make them more resilient in the face of climate disruption. This informal council enabled Europe’s environment ministers to work towards a shared vision for achieving this.”
Alban Brian, Press Officer of Alain Maron – +32 (0)490 677 459