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Climate, just transition and circular economy at the centre of discussions
16 January 2024 - The European environment and climate ministers met in Brussels on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 January for an informal ministerial meeting. This meeting marks the launch of the work of the Environment Council configuration under the Belgian presidency.
On Monday, discussions focussed on the issue of preparing for the risks associated with climate change and the challenges of the just transition. The ministers also exchanged views on the conditions needed to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. On Tuesday, the circular economy and the issue of resource management took centre stage. The two-day meeting was chaired by the Brussels Minister for the Environment.
Visit the website of the Belgian presidency for a full summary of the debates.
Two Councils of Environment Ministers are scheduled during the Belgian presidency, on 25 March in Brussels and 17 June in Luxembourg.
The European Commission will also respond to the European Environment Agency's climate risk assessment, presented on Monday at the Environment Council, with a Communication on climate risk management. This will be published in the spring.
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Informal and formal meetings: what's the difference?
The Council's so-called "informal" meetings provide representatives from the ministries of the Member States with an opportunity to take part in an informal and intensive exchange of views on topical issues in their area of competence. Informal meetings take place in the country holding the rotating presidency and represent an opportunity for the host country to bring a special touch to European meetings. The Commissioners responsible for the areas concerned (in the case of the informal Environment Council, Commissioners Hoekstra and Sinkevičius) are also invited, and in some cases, they are joined by representatives of civil society or other European partners. Member States do not take formal decisions on European legislation at these informal meetings, which are more of a forum for dialogue.
The so-called "formal" meetings bring together only the representatives from the ministries of each of the Member States, who discuss, amend and adopt legislative measures. These meetings take place in Brussels and Luxembourg and are chaired by the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU. At these meetings, the representatives of each of the 27 Member States are authorised to make commitments on behalf of their governments and to exercise their right to vote on decisions relating to issues of importance to the EU.