Press release

May 3, 2007

       

Put environment policy at the heart of the EU project

(Brussels, 3 May, 2007) - EEB welcomes the Commission’s long-awaited review of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme (6EAP), which has recently been published.  The 6EAP was agreed in 2002 to guide the EU’s environmental policies for this decade. EEB agrees with the Commission’s conclusion that ”the EU is not yet on the path of sustainable development”, and welcomes the Commission’s assumption that “developing and implementing policies which can effectively protect Europe’s environment will be at the heart of the ‘European project’.  “However, apart from climate change policies, the Commission can’t really claim it’s on track with implementing 6EAP”, said John Hontelez, EEB’s Secretary General. “EEB is therefore calling for a serious debate on the direction of EU environmental policy based on this review.”

EEB believes the review has failed to admit major weaknesses with 6EAP’s key tool, Thematic Strategies and related Framework Directives. Particularly in the waste policy area, it does not defend its changed approach, which in EEB’s view has led to a failure to achieve 6EAP’s objectives. John Hontelez said: “6EAP promised quantitative and qualitative reduction targets covering all relevant waste, for achievement by 2010, leading to a major overall reduction in the volume of waste generated, and it foresaw priority waste-stream legislation. Instead, the Waste proposals are undermining existing waste policies”.

Another EEB concern is the high profile the review gives to the better regulation exercise, a product of the Lisbon process, which risks undermining badly-needed attention for the better enforcement of existing legislation.  From EEB’s perspective, ‘better regulation’ may damage the credibility of existing EU legislation, while it is far from certain that alternative policies will bring more effective environmental protection. The recent waste and air quality proposals are two examples which illustrate EEB’s concerns.

On the plus side, “EEB welcomes several elements of the review: the plea to shift the tax burden away from employment and onto resource and energy consumption and pollution, the commitment to remove environmentally-damaging subsidies and the initiative for a discussion on rethinking Gross Domestic Product as proxy indicator of human development and well-being”, said Ursula Vavrik, EEB’s EU Policy Director. EEB looks forward to the promised strategy paper on implementation and enforcement and will ask the Environment Council and the European Parliament for an exhaustive debate. “We think it’s important that improved implementation and enforcement, further promotion of policy integration and the use of market solutions to deliver environmental results, are considered as high priority themes”, said Ursula Vavrik.

 

For further information please contact:-
 
John Hontelez, Secretary General, hontelez@eeb.org; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1091;
Mobile: +32 (0)486 51 21 27

Ursula Vavrik, EU Policy Director: ursula.vavrik@eeb.org; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1304

Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer: press@eeb.org; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

 

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