Europe - Commission to debate future environmental
policy
Due to be adopted at the end of July, thematic strategies on air quality    
and protection of the marine environment have been deferred and will be    
replaced by a general policy debate on July 20 on all thematic environment    
strategies, on the basis of a decision by European Commission President    
José Manuel Barroso. EIS reports that this debate can be interpreted as    
an evaluation, or even a questioning of environment policy in the broad    
sense. Differences between Commissioners on this point are far from    
negligible.   
   
Fears were expressed as early as January 2005 regarding the current    
Commission's determination to develop and ambitious environment policy.    
Initial comments by Mr Barroso placed emphasis on the economy and    
employment rather than the environment, the third pillar of the Lisbon    
Strategy. These fears therefore appear to be borne out, though the debate    
on July 20 may represent something of a 'mini-victory' for Environment    
Commissioner Stavros Dimas, given that some within the EU executive    
have been pressing over recent weeks for the thematic strategies to be    
thrown out without any further debate. A minor victory since Stavros Dimas    
has at least been allowed by José Manuel Barroso to defend his policy    
and his service's future activities.   
   
A recent Eurobarometer survey indicated that citizens want more action    
on the environment and public health yet Stavros Dimas has been hard    
pressed to convince his peers. The official support of UK Environment    
Secretary and Council President Margaret Beckett can be set against the    
virulent opposition of British Commissioner Peter Mandelson within the    
Commission - so the message from London appears confused. In one way    
or another, the debate will be capital: if the Commission team confirms a    
timetable for the adoption of thematic strategies it will give Mr Dimas    
something akin to a green light. If the adoptions are deferred indefinitely,    
on the grounds for example of the need for evaluations and impact studies,    
the Environment Commissioner and his Directorate-General may find their    
efforts paralysed for long months.   
   
Mr Dimas will base his presentation on a working paper recalling    
environment policy fundamentals, the sustainable development    
requirements confirmed by the March 2005 European Council, and    
obligations under the thematic strategies stemming from the 6th    
Environmental Action Programme. He will emphasise the evolution of a    
policy switching progressively from a specific approach by pollutant based    
on pollution sources to an integrated approach focusing on the entire life    
cycle from the use of resources to production and consumption and the    
disposal of products as waste.   
   
Stavros Dimas will argue that the thematic strategies constitute a logical    
continuation of and response to a desire to more effectively target    
environment policy, focus, update and simplify legislation. In this context,    
they are directly in line with the Commission and the European    
Presidency's desire to ensure better legislation and clean up EU    
legislation. He will recall the objectives of each of the seven strategies - air    
pollution, the marine environment, sustainable use of resources, prevention    
and management of waste, sustainable use of pesticides, soil quality and    
the urban environment - and their intrinsic links with the central priorities of    
the 6th Action Programme (climate change and clean energy, nature and    
biodiversity, environment, health and quality of life, management of natural    
resources, waste prevention and management), priorities included in the    
EU's sustainable development strategy.  
  
News artcile posted courtesy of Resource Recovery Forum: http://www.resourcesnotwaste.org/ 
Posted: 29/07/2005 By: Professor Paul Bardos



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