The legislation passed by parliament's environment, public health and food safety (ENVI) committee "directly affects the lives of every citizen in Europe", says Giovanni La Via. The chair of ENVI since July of this year, La Via certainly isn't shying away from the "honour of being chair of parliament's largest legislative committee". Comprised of 69 members of the European parliament, ENVI's activities are "wide ranging", says La Via, who tells the Parliament Magazine that he intends to "carry out my responsibility to serve our citizens together with my colleagues from all the various political groupings".
"The immediate issues we will be dealing with are plastic bags, medical devices, air and water pollution, waste management and biodiversity protection"
"The main issues the ENVI committee will be tackling," says the Italian deputy, "are to do with policies on environmental protection, climate change and food product safety." However, he also points to "important issues such as public health, for example, in relation to regulations governing pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and medical devices". La Via, who is beginning his second term in the European parliament, says his committee will also be responsible for "consumer protection", citing the "the many cases to do with the labelling and safety of food products, veterinary legislation, protection against risks to human health and, finally, health checks on foodstuffs and production systems," that MEPs in ENVI will be tackling. "We are already working on the more important cases," he says, "on which we hope there will be close cooperation between the various political groupings and that there will be a general climate of cooperation with the committee and the council."
From a personal perspective, the EPP deputy will be pushing for a focus on "the battle against climate change", which he say will "definitely be central to the committee's work". "This issue has been under discussion since the beginning of this parliamentary term, given the forthcoming climate change summits which will be critical to the implementation of the international agreement planned for 2015." He also underlines "the cultivation of GMOs and the potential restriction of or ban on them in member states" as another high-priority issue, but adds that "the immediate issues we will be dealing with are plastic bags, medical devices, air and water pollution, waste management and biodiversity protection".
"The new Juncker led-commission is a blend of sound skills and personality"
Despite the lack of a dedicated environment or climate action brief in Jean-Claude Juncker's commission portfolio restructuring, La Via remains confident that "parliament will find a way of working in a strong spirit of cooperation with the new commission". "The new Juncker-led commission is a blend of sound skills and personality," he stresses, adding that the lack of a "single commissioner responsible for environment and climate change as a reference point" will not negatively affect the ENVI committee's work. In fact, for La Via, the format of working with "a number of commissioners with portfolios, with multidisciplinary skills to do with the environment, climate, health and consumer protection" should be considered "a prerequisite for establishing a relationship of mutual cooperation, aimed at reinforcing the necessary synergy between the European government and its democratically-elected representatives."
Giovanni La Via is chair of parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee