Council of the European Union
The Environment Council is responsible for EU environment policy, including environmental protection, prudent use of resources and the protection of human health. It also deals with international environmental issues, especially in the area of climate change.
The Environment Council is made up of ministers responsible for matters specifically relating to the environment. There are about four Environment Council meetings a year.
In its role as a policy-maker, the Council is responsible for the adoption, together with the European Parliament, of ambitious environmental legislation that protects natural habitats, keeps air and water clean, ensures proper waste disposal, improves knowledge about toxic chemicals and helps businesses move towards a sustainable economy. It also makes sure that environmental aspects are properly integrated into other EU policies, such as industry, agriculture, transport, energy and services.
The Ministry of the Environment is also responsible for the management of fisheries, therefore will participate in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which takes place every month. The Council adopts legislation on fisheries policy, the setting of annual Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for each species, and on the allocation of fishing opportunities. A key challenge is to make fisheries more environmentally sustainable and more economically viable, while addressing issues such as over-fishing and fleet overcapacity.
More information can be found on the website of the Council of the European Union.
Working Parties of the Council of the European Union
Estonian points of view must be well represented and defended in working parties of the Council of the European Union, since over two-thirds (around 70%) of drafts and documents discussed by the Council are agreed upon in working groups and special committees.
The Ministry of the Environment and officials within its area of administration participate in the following working parties of the Council of the European Union:
- Working Party on the Environment negotiates issues in the area of climate change and EU environmental policies and legislation. It deals with a broad range of topics including: air quality such as the reduction of national emission, waste including the reduction of the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bag, greenhouse gas emissions both at EU and international level, biodiversity, water and chemicals.
- Working Party on International Environmental Issues prepares EU positions for international negotiations related to environmental and climate change issues. It works in subgroups, which cover various issues such as climate, biodiversity, chemicals, global sustinable development and waste. It also covers the activity within environment and climate change international bodies, such as the United Nations (UN), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
- Working Parties on Internal and External Fisheries Policy handle work relating to issues involving the EU's extternal relations in the area of fisheries and EU's internal fisheries policy. The working party on internal fisheries policy mainly deals with resource policy (total allowable catches TAC), technical conservation measures, structural policy, market and trade policy and fisheries control. The working party on external fisheries prepares and coordinates EU positions, including bilateral negotiations with non-EU countries and multilateral negotiations, ahead of meetings with the following international organisations: the UN general Assembly, OECD, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and regional fisheries organisations.
The Ministry of the Environment has three counsellors at the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU. More information can be found on the website of the Permanent Representation.