There are reports today that some proposed environmental measures put forward by the last Commission might be dropped — particularly those intended to combat air pollution and waste.
At this stage, we should take these reports with a pinch of salt. This is an unofficial leak regarding an official announcement which isn’t due till next week, so it may well turn out to be off target. And we should also bear in mind that these are not “laws” being scrapped, as the Guardian’s headline frets, but merely proposals which have not yet been passed either by MEPs or national ministers, never mind implemented.
But if the report does turn out to be true, it’s very disappointing. Anti-pollution measures are vital to improve the quality of the air we breathe, and moreover, they enjoy wide cross-party support in Parliament. It looks like the new Commission is being overzealous in bowing to pressure from certain national governments — including our own — who want to cut back on European rules just because they are European, ignoring the benefit of joint action across our continent on such issues.
Incidentally, it’s all very well for Conservative MEP Julie Girling to complain “in the strongest possible terms” about the threat to scrap the proposals, and praise the draft as “a good package of legislation”. On that, as it happens, I agree with her. But in an atmosphere where constant Tory grumbling about ‘EU red tape’ and ‘Brussels meddling’ is the norm, good packages of legislation can be thrown out all too easily for bad reasons — so they can hardly plead innocence.