Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Scrutiny of EU Legislative Proposals: COM (2012) 141, COM (2012) 221 and COM (2012) 242

2:20 pm

Photo of Michael McCarthyMichael McCarthy (Cork South West, Labour)
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The joint committee will now consider the following EU legislative proposals: COM (2012) 141; COM (2012) 221; and COM (2012) 242.

COM (2012) 141 is a Council directive amending annexe 1 to European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste. Article 3.1 of that directive provides a generic definition of packaging and criteria on what can be viewed as packaging. Annexe 1 of the directive provides an illustrative list of the application of these criteria. The aim of the directive is to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of the packaging legislative framework and to create a level playing field for package producers across the EU internal market. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has advised that the list is nothing more than illustrative. The legal definition provided in the directive determines what is packaging and that definition has not been amended. The Commission has produced the illustrative list to give greater clarity on foot of requests from industry sources. It is proposed that the proposal does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

COM (2012) 221 is a proposal for a Council decision on the adoption of the 2012-15 high-flux reactor supplementary research programme, to be implemented by the joint research centre of the European Atomic Energy Community, EURATOM. An agreement was signed between EURATOM and the Netherlands in 1961 for the Commission to use the experimental high-flux reactor, which is located at EURATOM's joint research centre in Petten in the Netherlands. The operation of the high-flux reactor has been supported by a series of supplementary research programmes funded by Belgium, France and the Netherlands. This proposal seeks to put in place a further supplementary research programme for the period 2012 to 2015, with funding from the same countries. Ireland supports the supplementary research programme as it benefits from the medical isotope production of the reactor and regards as positive research into improving nuclear safety standards. It is proposed that the proposal does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

COM (2012) 242 is a proposal for a Council directive laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation. Even exposure to low levels of ionising radiation can cause ill-effects to health, including in particular cancer later in life. The overall objective of the initiative is to ensure a high level of protection to workers, members of the public and patients against the potentially serious health consequences arising from exposure to ionising radiation, while also protecting the environment. This directive also seeks to simplify existing legislation by consolidating the five concurrent directives that exist at present. This proposal first appeared in Commission document COM (2011) 593 in September 2011. Due to the highly technical nature of the proposal, a technical working group made amendments to it before it was signed off by the college of Commissioners. Ireland does not have a nuclear industry but it recognises the right of other member states to determine their own energy mix, including nuclear energy. In that context, Ireland's position is that the nuclear power industries of member states should operate to the highest international standards of safety and environmental protection. The joint committee has sought and received information from the Department on its considered views on the unamended proposal and has received an undertaking that it will be kept informed of all developments. It is proposed that the proposal does not warrant further scrutiny. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I propose that we suspend the meeting to allow the witnesses who are appearing before the committee to take their seats. When they have done so we will consider the topic of maintaining and enforcing regulations in the building sector. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 3.47 p.m. and resumed at 3.48 p.m.