Waste shipments: MEPs adopt tougher EU rules

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 February, 2024 at 2:35 pm by Andre Camilleri

The European Parliament on Tuesday approved updated EU procedures and control measures for waste shipments.

With 587 votes in favour, eight against and 33 abstentions, MEPs endorsed the deal reached with the Council, which aims to protect the environment and human health more effectively, while contributing to the EU’s circular economy and zero pollution goals.

The rules for exporting waste from the EU to third countries will be stricter. Plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries will be prohibited within two and a half years after the entry into force of the regulation, while those to OECD countries will be subject to stricter conditions.

Within the EU, the exchange of information and data on waste shipments would be digitalised, through a central electronic hub, to improve reporting and transparency. Shipping waste destined to be disposed in another EU country would be allowed only in exceptional circumstances.

The law also establishes an enforcement group to improve cooperation between EU countries to prevent and detect illegal shipments.

Rapporteur Pernille Weiss (EPP, DK) said: “The revised law will bring more certainty to Europeans that our waste will be appropriately managed, no matter where it is shipped to. The EU will finally assume responsibility for its plastic waste by banning its export to non-OECD countries. Waste is a resource when it is properly managed, but should not in any case be causing harm to the environment or human health.”

Following the final vote in plenary, the Council will now have to formally endorse the text, too, before its publication in the EU Official Journal.

The proposal to reform the EU’s rules on waste shipments lays down procedures and control measures depending on the waste’s origin, destination and transport route, as well as the type of waste and the treatment it will undergo at its destination. In 2020, EU exports of waste to non-EU countries reached 32.7 million tonnes, representing about 16% of global trade in waste. In addition, around 67 million tonnes of waste are shipped between EU countries every year.

In adopting this report, Parliament is responding to citizens’ expectations for the EU to increase environmental standards related to waste shipments both within the EU and to third countries, and enforce more stringent controls and sanctions to stop illegal exports, as expressed in proposals 5(11) and 20(2) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

On Tuesday, the EP also adopted new rules on transparency and targeting of political advertising, which will make election and referenda campaigns more transparent and resistant to interference. The new rules will regulate political advertisements, notably online ads, while also providing for a framework for political actors to advertise more easily across the EU.

Greater transparency and accountability

Under the new rules, political advertising will have to be clearly labelled. Citizens, authorities and journalists will be able to easily obtain information on whether they are being targeted with an ad, who is paying for it, how much is being paid, and to which elections or referendum it is linked. All political advertising and related information will be stored in a public online repository.

To limit foreign interference in European democratic processes, sponsoring ads from outside the EU will be prohibited in the three-month period before an election or referendum.

Regulating targeting strategies

In order to protect voters from manipulation, targeting and amplification techniques will only be possible for online political advertising based on personal data collected from the subject once their explicit and separate consent has been given. Special categories of personal data (e.g. ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation) or minors’ data cannot be used.

Protecting freedom of expression

The rules only concern remunerated political advertisements. They do not affect the content of political ads nor rules on conduct and financing of political campaigns. Personal views, political opinions, such as any unsponsored journalistic content, or communication on the organisation and participation in elections (e.g. announcements of candidates) by official national or EU sources are not impacted.

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