The plans, unveiled on 1 July, contained few surprises as the UK largely picked up from where Luxembourg left off (ENDS Report 365, p 24 ). As expected, climate change and securing a political agreement on the proposed Regulation on the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (REACH) are the two big environmental priorities, but the UK will have space to push forward a handful of other policies.
At the European level, the UK will prepare the ground for the second phase of the EU's climate change programme next year and could conceivably push for new, more stringent, medium and long-term targets, though the EU's recent lacklustre performance on emissions reduction could undermine this (see p 6 ).
The October meeting of the Environment Council was to be dominated by a policy debate on aviation and climate change. But this has been thrown into question following the Commission's last-minute decision in July to delay publication of a Communication on aviation emissions.
The move is a blow to the UK's ambitions to secure the early entry of aviation into the EU emissions trading scheme. The Commission has consistently held out for 2012 - the start of the third phase of the trading scheme - but the UK wants it in during the second phase which runs from 2008. The issue was due to be decided at the December meeting of the Environment Council.
In September, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett will host an informal meeting of agriculture and environment Ministers in London to discuss the relationship between agriculture and climate change.
Two of these - on air quality and the marine environment - are largely complete and were due to be released in July, but Mr Barroso blocked their publication reportedly because of industry concerns over cost (see pp 3-4 ).
If the strategies eventually emerge, they will be discussed at the October Environment Council, and in the case of the pesticides strategy the Agriculture Council, in the context of better regulation. There is also a slim chance that initial discussions on legislation stemming from the air quality strategy could begin at the December Environment Council.
The Commission will table its proposals for a revised EU sustainable development strategy on the UK's watch, and the Environment Department (DEFRA) has identified reaching agreement on it as one of its priorities. The signs are that Mrs Beckett will have a fight on her hands as economically focused players at home and in the EU are bringing pressure to bear to secure the prioritisation of the economic dimension of sustainable development over the environment and society.
The UK, is keen to put the drive for service liberalisation back on track and will use its Presidency to break the deadlock and resolve political concerns over the Directive.
The UK is also a champion of policy integration and wants to breathe new life into the stalled Cardiff process for integrating environmental concerns into all areas of EU policy. Mrs Beckett will use her role as chair of the environment and agriculture councils to press for more coordination between these two areas in particular.