Green experts: Reform Treaty “should enhance environmental protection”

Countryside near Malham, Yorkshire (picture David Benbennick)

Environment groups have given a cautious welcome to the revised EU treaty approved by heads of state and government at a summit in Lisbon in the early hours of Friday. There has been no scaling back of the bloc’s environmental ambitions, observers say, and the new text includes some changes that should enhance environmental protection.

John Hontelez, secretary general of the European environmental bureau (EEB), told ENDS there were “some clear advantages” in the new treaty. He pointed to the addition of a new chapter on energy policy, for which the EU and its member states will share decision making responsibility in future. One of the stated goals of EU energy policy will be to “promote energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy”.

Mr Hontelez also welcomed the fact that key environmental principles in the existing EU treaty had survived, including the need to integrate green considerations in all areas of EU policy and the primacy of the precautionary principle. “There are no environmental reasons to oppose this treaty”, he concluded.

Marc Pallemaerts of the Institute for European environmental policy (IEEP) welcomed a beefed-up reference to sustainable development in the list of EU objectives, covering not only domestic European policy but those affecting third countries. The extension of stronger decisionmaking rights to MEPs over the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) was probably “the most significant change” in environment policy terms, he said.

The treaty will now be formally signed by EU heads of state on 13 December, after which it must be ratified by all 27 national parliaments and the European parliament. If approved, the new treaty will enter force in 2009.

Source: ENDS Europe DAILY 2412, 19/10/07

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