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Joint Statement of the 15th Meeting of Ministers of Environment of the Visegrad Group Countries

Budapest, 18–19 September 2008

Minister of Environment of the Czech Republic, Minister of Environment and Water of the Republic of Hungary, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Poland and Minister of Environment of the Slovak Republic, representatives of the Visegrad Group Countries,
  • reaffirming the importance of the cooperation of the Visegrad Group countries in the field of environmental protection within the European Union,
  • bearing in mind the previous meetings of the Visegrad Group Environment Ministers,
  • noting the Program of the 2008/2009 Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group and recalling the objective of "Green Visegrad",
  • recalling the relevant conclusions of the different European Council formations in March 2008 as well as in June 2008,
  • bearing in mind that the fourteenth session of the conference of the parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be hosted by Poland,
  • considering that the Czech Republic will take the next presidency of the European Union as of January 2009
the Ministers have agreed as follows:
EU level legal instruments to reduce CO2 emissions from motor vehicles

The Ministers realizing that climate change and the reducing of the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are among the most important environmental challenges expressed their views that endeavors to create means of regulation aiming at facing these challenges in particular by reducing the CO2 emission from motor vehicles at EU level should be supported.

The Ministers support the objective of limiting the CO2 emissions of new car fleet to 130 g CO2/km by the manufacturers by developing vehicle motor technology and the additional 10g CO2/km reduction by other measures by taking into account the relevant environmental and competitiveness issues.

The Ministers welcome the wider use of biofuels for reducing GHG emission however they stress that only the use of those biofuels can be supported the production of which meet the sustainability criteria to be agreed on at EU level. The Ministers stressed the importance of priority to the EU origin of the components of the biofuels.

The Ministers agreed on coordinating their positions in relation to the ongoing negotiations on the EU level regulation on the reducing of CO2 emission from motor vehicles.
Illegal waste shipment among EU member states

The Ministers reaffirmed their concerns about the illegal waste shipments to the countries of the Visegrad Group and reiterated their endeavors to find a reassuring solution for this issue.

The Minister reiterated the importance of exchange of information and experience on the control of transboundary waste shipments and encouraged national authorities to increase and improve of joint inspections at the border area with special attention to non-hazardous waste intended for recovery. In this regard the Ministers underlined the significance of IMPEL TFS project European Enforcement Actions II.

The Ministers call all EU Member States and their relevant authorities to take responsible measures within their countries to treat and prevent illegal waste shipments in particular to V4 countries.

The Ministers affirmed that further attention should be paid to the prevention of illegal transport of wastes and enforcement of EU waste shipment legislation as well as agreed on the strengthening of the co-operation of the national authorities responsible for the control of transboundary waste shipment within the V4 countries.
Greening of the tax systems in the EU Member States

Ministers agreed on the importance of the use of economical instruments in the environmental protection. The basic motivation of the green tax system is to internalize the externalities. The Ministers support greening the tax system based on principle of fiscal neutrality.

The Ministers exchanged their views on the environmental significance of the tax systems and different financial mechanisms. The Ministers agreed that in order to shift to the use of sustainable production and consumption patterns these approaches have utmost importance.

The Ministers proposed to exchange information on expert level on the use of economic instruments for more sustainable solutions of waste management and consumption issues including: the reduction of the volume of packaging waste (in particular the PET bottles), water consumption, problems related to the end-of-life vehicles. The ministers also stressed that their countries will support the PET bottles refund system to improve the efficiency of recycling; furthermore the existing pollution fees and payments should be set up on the level in order to motivate polluters to modernize technologies.
Climate Conference in Poznan, 2008
The Ministers took note of the presentation by the head of the Polish delegation on the preparations for the 14th Session of the Conference of the Parties to UN Framework Convention on Combating Climate Change and 4th Session to the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Ministers emphasized that the Climate Conference in Poznan should be a major step forward to have successful negotiations in 2009 and to achieve the new global and comprehensive agreement for the post 2012 regime to combat climate change.
EU Climate/Energy Package

The Ministers realizing that there is a need to strengthen the efforts in reducing the emission of green house gases (GHGs) support the principles and the targets of the EU climate policy as agreed by the European Council in March 2007 and 2008. According to these agreements, the EU is committed to reduce the GHG emissions by at least 20% by 2020 compared to the 1990's level. It will reinforce EU's leadership in the international negotiations. The EU is ready for a 30% reduction target if other developed countries take similar commitments and the relevant emerging economies also contribute to the global efforts.

The V4 countries are determined to contribute to the common EU's targets in a fair way. Ministers strongly reaffirmed the importance of early conclusion of the EU climate change and energy package but no later than in March 2009. It will be also essential in order to successfully negotiate the global climate change deal in Copenhagen in 2009.

The Ministers specifically had a shared vision on the following areas: flexibility in terms of trading within the non-ETS "sector"; the need for further EU wide negotiations on the ways and means for the 30 % emission reduction target; the need to find reasonable solutions for concerns raised by a number of EU members in context of recognition of the achievements of the Member States in relation to the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; the importance to deal with the issues related to the carbon leakage and auctioning mechanism.
The Ministers fully supported the initiative of the French Presidency of the European Union regarding the in-depths discussions on the authorization procedure of genetically modified organisms.
The Ministers welcomed the French efforts on reviewing the risk assessment procedures based on the increasing scientific expertise. The Visegrad Group also believes that assessment of environment and health related risks of GMOs must be based on concrete scientific studies. Specific, updated guidelines and protocols on safety assessment of GMOs for cultivation, food and feed have to be elaborated and adopted as legally binding as soon as possible.
The Ministers expressed their strong belief that there is a need to consider and open new ways aimed at reinforcing cooperation between the EU Member States, the European Commission and relevant European and national scientific bodies.
Czech EU Presidency
The Ministers took note of the presentation of the Czech Minister on the preparations and priorities of the forthcoming Czech EU Presidency and agreed that as far as it is necessary they are ready to contribute to achieving the objectives of the program of the Czech Presidency.
Done in Budapest on 19 September 2008

His Excellency Dr. Martin Bursík
Minister of the Environment
Czech Republic
His Excellency Mr. Imre Szabó
Minister of the Environment and Water
Republic of Hungary

His Excellency Mr. Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State
Ministry of the Environment, on behalf of Maciej Nowicki minister
Republic of Poland
His Excellency Mr. Ján Chrbet
Minister of the Environment
Slovak Republic

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