COMMISSION ACTS TO PROTECT WORKERS AGAINST CANCER-CAUSING CHEMICALS
The Commission proposed limiting the exposure of workers to five chemicals which have been linked to workplace related cancer. Specifically, the proposal sets a maximum concentration for the presence in workplace air of cadmium, beryllium, arsenic acid and its salts, formaldehyde, and MOCA. The changes to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive is intended to lead to fewer cases of work related cancer, but also limit other health problems caused by carcinogenic and mutagenic substances. The proposal comes as a result of a broad consultation with employers, workers, and Member States’ representatives.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE SUPPORTS EU PLASTICS STRATEGY
The European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) published a draft report on the EU’s Plastics Strategy. The document agrees with the Commission’s recommendations that all plastic packaging should be reusable and recyclable by 2030, and that the Commission should come forward with legislation specifically targeting single-use plastics. Conversely, it opposes the introduction of an EU-wide plastics tax as a potential own resource stream for the EU, stressing that fiscal policy remains a Member State competence. The report will be presented to ENVI at the end of April with the adoption anticipated for July and a final plenary vote in September.
NEW RULES GUARANTEEING THE RIGHT TO PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE ENTER INTO FORCE
New common EU rules guaranteeing that anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty came into force on 1 April. The directive prohibits public authorities from making any references to guilt before the person is proven guilty. It also gives people the right to remain silent. The rule is part of a package of laws providing minimum standards on the procedural rights of suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings. This package aims to ensure that European citizens have common rights if they are accused or suspected of committing a crime wherever they are in Europe.
HORIZON 2020 WILL PROVIDE MORE THAN €12 MILLION FUNDING FOR INNOVATIVE SMES
Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, will support 257 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) from 31 countries with €12.65 million of funding under the SME instrument. Each SME will receive €50,000 to prepare feasibility assessment plans, known as phase 1 of the SME instrument. The companies will also receive coaching and business acceleration services. Most of the SMEs work in the field of health, engineering, and information technology. Examples of selected projects among the 257 chosen are solar street lights, a diagnosis tool for sleep apnoea, an innovative mobile payment technology, and a wrapping machine for sustainable packaging.
GROUPS CALL ON PRESIDENT JUNCKER TO ALIGN BUDGET WITH CLIMATE GOALS
More than 30 civil society, business, and environmentalist groups have appealed to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to ensure that the EU’s next budget is aligned with the bloc’s Paris Agreement commitments on climate change. In an open letter to President Juncker, the organisations said that the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU’s seven-year budget currently being prepared within the Commission, should significantly increase current climate action spending. In addition, the letter also calls for the “climate proofing” of the budget to ensure investments do not come to contradict the aims of the Paris Agreement.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
• 10-11 April: Informal Meeting of EU Environment Ministers. On the agenda: ambient air quality, better regulation, and climate change.
• 12 April: General Affairs Council. On the agenda: Cohesion
Karl Isaksson, Managing Partner Brussels, Kreab