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Approving the new Environment Commissioner


Karmenu Vella, a Maltese, is likely to be the new European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Following the well-defined ‘hearings’ process, where Commissioners-designate appear in front of the European Parliament, Mr Vella attended the ENVI Committee session on Tuesday 29 September to answer questions from the members on his experience and knowledge.

Prior to his appearance, Mr Vella had already submitted written answers to some initial questions by the Parliament. For his hearing on Tuesday he faced the Parliament’s ENVI and the PECH Committees (environment and fisheries).

In his 15 minute opening speech Mr Vella flagged three priorities he wants to pursue as Commissioner: green growth, the revision of the birds and habitat directives to improve the protection of the ecosystems, and the risks arising from environmental pressures on air and water and their impact on citizens’ health. On the latter point, Mr Vella stressed the progressive implementation of the REACH Regulation, a tool he considers adequate to address risks associated to chemical substances.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) asked many questions on Mr Vella’s plans for the birds and habitat directives, shale gas and fracking, access to justice in environmental matters and environmental inspections. Others referred to the air quality and the packaging waste legislation currently under negotiation. How the Commissioner would ensure the implementation of EU law by member states was another big topic.

Despite the fact that Mr Vella mentioned risks to water in his opening speech, no MEP picked up this topic.

Seeing as the European Commission public consultation on the quality of drinking water in the EU received 22,000 answers, we will have to wait and see if water will be high on the agenda of the new European Parliament?


EurEau. Water matters. EU matters.

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