Lithuanian Commissioner-designate Virginijus Sinkevičius. Image: EU Commission

Political groups’ co-ordinators and chairs from the environment and oceans committees have met to assess the performance of Lithuanian Commissioner-designate Virginijus Sinkevičius following his introductory speech.

He listed biodiversity, the circular economy and zero pollution as his three priorities, advocating working at a global level to achieve the equivalent of the Paris climate agreement for biodiversity.

Concerning fisheries, he said that he is committed to fully implementing the Common Fisheries Policy and its upcoming evaluation, stating that the EU must remain a global leader for sustainable fisheries and ocean governance. He also made a point of mentioning the importance of healthy oceans to ensure healthy fish stocks and thriving fishing communities.

Fisheries-related questions touched upon the desired reciprocal agreement to access waters and resources in the event of Brexit, employment and youth matters for small fishing communities, multi-annual fishing plans, as well as the future of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

He also proposed extending circular economy policies to new sectors, such as textiles, food and the information and communications technology sector. To fight pollution, he announced he will focus on the challenges of hazardous chemicals, endocrine disruptors, as well as the runoff of nutrients, pharmaceuticals and microplastics.

MEPs put forward several questions on how EU environmental policies can enhance the role of forests as carbon sinks and biodiversity reservoirs, tackling air pollution from agriculture and industry. Members also questioned the Commissioner-designate on plastic pollution, over-packaging and eco-design.