Monitoring EU waste law negotiations

Stack of plastic bottles for recycling against blue sky

The EU waste policy map is a tool designed by EU NGOs and their national members to monitor the ongoing negotiations on waste laws at the EU level.

Policymakers and NGOs, along with a growing number of industries, agree that moving to a ‘circular economy’ – where waste is prevented and products reused or recycled – is the best solution for the planet and for business.

The ongoing negotiations in Brussels will determine the future of EU waste laws in the 28 member states, and reveal if the EU is ready to transition to a circular economy.

High representatives from member states met in May to define the position of the Council of the European Union. In May, all three EU institutions – the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council – also started the negotiations to define the final text of the new EU waste laws. Negotiations are expected to last until the end of the year, and the position of the Council can change at any time depending on the evolving stance of national governments.

The proposals, already approved by the European Parliament in March and to be achieved by 2030, include:

  • higher recycling targets for municipal solid waste;
  • targets for preparation for reuse of municipal solid waste;
  • targets for reuse of packaging;
  • better separate collection of all waste streams, including biowaste;
  • EU-wide rules for producer responsibility, and
  • Objectives to reduce waste generation.


A transparency problem

1st round of negotiations

In May, we asked government officials whether they are going to support these much-needed proposals. Our aim is to promote an open and transparent process of decision making at the EU level, and a full transition to a circular economy.

Unlike amendments and votes in the European Parliament, where discussions are recorded and publicly available, inter-institutional negotiations take place behind closed doors. In many cases, EU citizens are prevented from knowing the position of their governments–let alone joining the debate.

Member states failing to disclose their position are therefore shown in red on the map. While their lack of transparency does not necessarily mean they will oppose the proposals in the negotiations, as civil society organisations we denounce this level of secrecy.

2nd round of negotiations

In June, following the first round of negotiations, we gathered more information on the evolving position of EU governments.

The information presented in the map is based on leaked documents and official positions claimed by governments during the negotiations.

Find out more


Timeline of the negotiations

*Negotiations may continue in 2018 if member states fail to reach a satisfactory agreement.

The Maltese Presidency kicked off the negotiations in May. The Estonian Presidency will lead the discussions from July to December. If no agreement will be reached by the end of the year, the Bulgarian Presidency will take the lead in 2018.