The EU’s proposals to amend the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and to strengthen the principle of equal pay for equal work were the two main agenda topics at the 23rd meeting of the Forum of Regional and Elected Representatives of the EEA EFTA States (EEA EFTA Forum). The meeting was chaired by Beate Marie Dahl Eide from the Norwegian delegation.
The Forum consists of elected local and regional politicians from Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland as observers, and serves as an informal body to include the elected representatives in EEA matters. It works closely with other EEA EFTA bodies and has established links with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, an EU advisory body that was established in 1994 just after the signing of the EEA Agreement.
At their meetings on 1 and 2 December 2022 at the EFTA House, the Forum first discussed the EU’s proposal to amend the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. The legislation was adopted in 1991 with the aim of protecting the environment from adverse effects of wastewater discharges from urban sources and specific industries. Although an in-depth evaluation across the EU, conducted in 2019, showed high level of compliance with the Directive, challenges persist: Remaining pollution from urban sources, alignment of the Directive with the European Green Deal, and insufficient and uneven level of government. The main objective of the EU’s proposal for revision is to tackle these issues in a cost-effective way while keeping the Directive as simple as possible.
For the EEA EFTA Forum’s discussion of the Commission’s proposal on 1 December, they then discussed a draft opinion prepared by the rapporteur Þórdís Lóa Þórhallsdóttir from the Icelandic delegation in detail with experts and then adopted a joint position of this highly important topic, which will have a great impact on municipalities throughout all the EEA. The Forum adopted the opinion on 2 December.
On 2 December, the EEA EFTA Forum debated the EU’s proposal to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work through pay transparency. The right to equal pay for equal work is one of the EU’s founding principles enshrined in the Treaty of Rome and set out in the 2006 “Recast Directive” and the 2014 Recommendation on pay transparency. Nevertheless, effective implementation of this principle remains a challenge. One of the key obstacles is lack of pay transparency. The proposed legislation aims at tackling this by establishing pay transparency standards to empower workers to claim their right to equal pay.
The proposed opinion of the EEA EFTA Forum on Pay Transparency, prepared by rapporteur Kari-Anne Opsal from the Norwegian delegation, was discussed in detail with experts and between the local politicians. Later in the day the Forum adopted the opinion.
Finally, the forum elected a new Chair for 2023. Rósa Guðbjartsdóttir from the Icelandic delegation will take over from Beate Marie Dahl Eide from Norway as Chair of the EEA EFTA Forum next year.
Opinion on pay transparency and equal pay
Opinion on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive
Find pictures of the meetings here
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