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Joint Statement of the 16th Meeting of the Environment Ministers of the Visegrad Group States

Cracow, 9–10 July 2009

The 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 "Solidarity in the region—together for democracy",

the Ministers have agreed as follows:

Challenges related to Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (CAFE)
The Ministers agreed that the substantial reduction of the atmospheric pollution is of utmost importance for the protection of human health and environment. In this regard, the CAFE directive is the key instrument of the EU and our countries are committed to meet it's objectives.
In order to fully implement this directive, the Ministers welcomed the possibility of postponing the attainment deadlines and exemptions from the obligation to apply certain limit values as created by Article 22 of the CAFE Directive. Notifications were submitted for the zones of the limit levels for particulate matter PM10 had been exceeded. If Commission approve exemptions for the zones with exceeded limit values for PM10, all V4 countries will make efforts to comply with the limit values in extended date (2011). In case that states will not be able to comply with the limit values in extended date, ministers consider further measures.
Furthermore, considering the effects of particulate matter PM2.5 on human health, the Ministers will make efforts to comply with the limit levels for particulate matter PM2.5 according the Directive 2008/50/EC. Ministers discussed the Italian proposal and agreed that in the light of new information which will be collected until the middle of 2011 about PM2.5 concentration in urban background stations and after the final review of the progress made by V4 countries in the derogation period for PM10 Air Quality Standards, bearing in mind its implications on the fulfilment of limits for PM2.5, Ministers will consider further steps regarding the possibility of postponing of the entry into force of limit value for PM 2.5 set in CAFE Directive before the revision scheduled for 2013.
Moreover, in connection with the persisting unfavourable ambient air quality in zones in the scope of particulate matter PM10, ozone and nitrogen dioxide, the Ministers call for the future exchange of views among the V4 countries on the measures to be taken to limit the emissions of these pollutants as well as on the possibility of applying effective remedial measures at national scale which will contribute to the reduction of the above mentioned emissions outside the borders of the countries.
Follow up to the discussion on the issue of illegal waste shipments between the Member States.
Appreciating the significance of such waste management which is safe for the environment and the health and life of citizens, the Ministers attribute particular importance to the effective prevention of illegal transboundary waste shipments.
Taking into account the recurrent cases of illegal transboundary waste shipments into the territories of the Visegrad Group States, the Ministers express their concern with the unjustified prolongation of the process of taking back the illegally shipped waste by the country of origin as set out in Regulation No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste.
The Ministers emphasise the need for the unified application of the regulations which govern transboundary waste shipments by all the Member States of the European Union, particularly in relation to the responsibility for illegal waste shipments. Feeling obliged to underline the importence of the transparency of the legislation in effect in the European Union and the effectiveness of its enforcement, the Ministers will make a joint submission to the European Commission to request the legal interpretation of the provisions of Article 24 of Regulation No 1013/2006 in order to eliminate any doubts whatsoever regarding this issue which hamper the effective and timely implementation of the procedures under the cited Regulation No 1013/2006.
The Ministers also agreed to submit information on this general problem and the initiative of the V4 Group on the conseguent interpretation of provisions of the above mentioned regulation to the next formal meeting of the EU Environmental Council as an AOB item of the agenda.
A proposal for a new Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment to replace Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 2003 on waste electrical and electronic equipment.
Ministers noted with appreciation the progress made by the V4 Countries on the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment and the efforts on improving recovery and recycling of this equipment. Underlining the need to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment, protect human health from this waste and its hazardous components, the Ministers expressed the necessity to further develop systems for separate collection and highly efficient recovery.
The Ministers also draw the attention to differences in the consumption patterns and the attitudes towards recycling among the various Member States of the EU countries.
Taking into account the changing circumstances on the market of electrical and electronic equipment and technological progress reflected in lighter products, the Ministers welcomed the proposal to change the manner of calculating the collection rate of waste equipment from the target expressed in kg per inhabitant per year to the target calculated as percentage of the weight of the equipment placed on the market in the territory of a given country. However, the Ministers point out that the new waste equipment collection rate to be established in the Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment should take into account both the protection of the environment against the adverse impact of waste equipment and the real capacity to collect this type of waste. The Ministers agreed on undertakeing joint efforts to ensure that the waste equipment collection rate indicated in the proposal of the European Commission become more realistic.
Moreover, analysing the difficulties now occurring on the recovery market, particularly in relation to waste recycling, the Ministers of the Environment declare that they will cooperate to ensure that such waste equipment recovery and recycling rates are established that will not pose problems for entrepreneurs and will, at the same time, lead to the development of the market of the recovery and recycling of waste arising from the treatment of waste equipment.
The status and significance of nature conservation, including Natura 2000 sites, in the discussion on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013
Discerning the multifunctionality of agriculture, the Ministers emphasised its contribution to the preservation of the natural heritage. Extensively used farmlands being areas with high biodiversity are covered by different schemes of nature conservation, including their incorporation into Nature 2000 in all V4 countries. It was agreed that agriculture in V4 countries should develop in a manner ensuring the quantitative and qualitative food security, while meeting the environmental requirements and avoiding the mistakes related to excessive intensification of farming the negative effects of which can be observed in certain European countries.
The Ministers stated that the prerequisite for the preservation of valuable species and their habitats in rural areas is the adjustment of the Common Agricultural Policy. The Ministers expressed their view that the structure of expenditure should be changed within the CAP—at least part of the funds from direct payments can be used to increase the subsidies supporting sustainable farming, e.g. within the framework of agri-environmental schemes, the present rates of which are sometimes too low to encourage farmers to apply the schemes. At the same time, the CAP should be consistent and its individual instruments must not support divergent aims.
The Ministers undertake that their declarations concerning CAP will emphasize that larger resources should be ensured for measures having a positive impact on the environment, especially biodiversity, in particular in protected areas.
The Ministers—having presented the experiences from the functioning of agrienvironmental schemes in their countries emphasised the importance of the analysis of the effectiveness of these schemes at the levels of the Member States and the EU as a whole—to identify the relationship between the environmental effect achieved and the funds allocated to the scheme. For this purpose, it would be necessary that the European Commission collects the results of the research conducted in this scope so far in the EU Member States and, if necessary, complements them with new data. The research results should be the basis for adjusting the schemes and may provide a point of departure for a discussion on the content of the future Common Agricultural Policy in relation to environmental protection.
The Ministers emphasized the need for through discussion within the EU, conducted jointly by ministers responsible for environment and agriculture, about the status and significance of biodiversity protection in framework of renewed CAP. The expressed the notion that 2010 as a final year for achieving current objectives in halting loss of biodiversity is a proper time to launch such discussion.
Experiences related to municipal waste incineration—the qualification of the energy as a form of a renewable source.
Bearing in mind
  • the potential offered by the possible qualification of the energy generated by municipal waste treatment as renewable energy, which would thereby facilitate the achievement of the targets in the scope of the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources as set out by the provisions of the European Union legislation, and
  • the common problems related to transboundary municipal waste shipments, the Ministers support the sharing of information among the Visegrad Group States concerning:
    • the adopted legal measures relating to municipal waste treatment and the calculation of the share of renewable energy in these processes,
    • the measures used to limit transboundary shipments of municipal waste.
Climate Conference in Copenhagen, 2009
The Ministers exchanged their views on the substantive preparations for the 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC (COP15) and the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
The climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time. Ministers representing the Visegrad Group intend to respond to this challenge taking into account both global need to tackle the negative aspects of climate change, as well as the sustainable development of developing and developed countries.
Ministers underlined the need to undertake the significant mitigation actions, recognizing the scientific view of need to limit the increase of the global average temperature below the 2 degrees C compared to the pre-industrial level. Ministers underlined the need of comparability of these efforts by all the developed countries based on principles of paying capacity and responsibility.
Following that Ministers are aware of the importance of the work between now and COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen within the EU and at the global level under the Convention to reach agreement on an ambitious midterm and long-term reduction targets.
Ministers recognize the adaptation to the climate change as crucial issue for the sustainable development especially for the countries that are most affected by negative effects of climate change. They recognize the need to assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries to improve their adaptive capacities. Both mitigation and adaptation actions need to be implemented on the synergic way and supported by technology transfer and appropriate finance.
The Ministers confirmed the need for further work on the EU position on the comprehensive agreement concerning the pursuit of climate policy after 2012 and the need to conclude a new global and comprehensive agreement in the course of COP15 in Copenhagen in December of this year.
The Presidency of the Czech Republic in the EU
The Ministers became acquainted with the Czech Minister's presentation on the experiences and conclusions on the work carried out under the Czech Presidency in the EU.
The International Environmental Governance Process
The Ministers appreciated the presentation of the Polish Minister on the results of the First Meeting of the Consultative Group of Ministers or High-Level Representatives on International Environmental Governance, which was held on 27-28 June 2009 in Belgrade. The ministers reaffirmed their support for the strengthening of the international environmental governance and expressed their hope to the positive outcome of work of the Consultative Group.
Information on project proposals by Czech Republic
Czech Republic presented two project proposals:
  • "Joint project of V4 environment protection agencies on establishing Methodological Centre for Environment Assessment (MECENAS)",
  • Joint project of V4-IMPEL-INECE-US EPA—"Exchange of experience and information on compliance and enforcement—EU and US approach"
Information was welcomed by all Ministers and discussion on these proposals will be continued.
Information by the forthcoming V4 Presidencies.
The Ministers took note:
  • of the priority topics on environment of the Hungarian V4 Presidency
  • and invitation by the Slovak Delegation for the next V4 meeting in Slovakia.

Done in Cracow on 10 July 2009
His Excellency Karel Blaha
Deputy Minister
Ministry of the Environment, on behalf of Minister Ladislav Miko
Czech Republic
His Excellency István Kling
State Secretary
Ministry of the Environment and Water, on behalf of Minister Imre Szabó
Republic of Hungary
His Excellency Maciej Nowicki
Minister of the Environment
Republic of Poland
His Excellency Miloslav Šebek
State Secretary
Minister of the Environment, on behalf of Viliam Turský
Slovak Republic

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