EEB calls for greening of the Lisbon Strategy

In a letter to the "Barroso Group", the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has called for a greening of the Lisbon Strategy this week.

Europe's largest federation of environmental citizens, the EEB sent the message to President Jose Manuel Barroso one day before the Barroso Group started its work, leading to proposals early next year for adoption by the European Summit in March.

The March European Summit will finalise the Lisbon review process, in which a high level group of experts led by former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok played a major role (see related story), particularly in the form of the Kok report, which will be used as a major source of guidance by the Barroso Commission.

The EEB reminds the Commission in the letter that in 2001, Commission and Council agreed on a sustainable development strategy that had clear objectives with regards to climate change, mobility, public health, biodiversity and resource use.

These objectives should be taken explicitly into account when deciding on actions to support the EU economy, according to Secretary General of the EEB John Hontelez, as he claims that the EU would otherwise be violating its own longer-term objectives.

"The Lisbon process' main aim is to accelerate the EU's growth," he said. "This is not necessarily bad for the environment, provide economic developments are directed by clear objectives such as reduced energy use, a reduced impact from transport on the environment, and respect for our remaining biodiversity."

"Such objectives, well translated into economic policies, can make the EU into the world leader in environmentally sound consumption and production patterns, for which sooner of later an enormous export market will come into existence, even in countries such as China and India."

The letter from the EEB refers to two important conclusions from the Kok report:

  • Environmental protection is a core objective for the EU and a key value in its own right, and has at the same time large potential, as a driver of economic innovation.

  • Establishing an appropriate regulatory framework to allow eco-innovations to be taken up in markets is essential. Market prices need to reflect the real costs of different goods and services to society. This requires gradually removing environmentally harmful subsidies while progressively including externalities in prices, taking account of other policy objectives such as competitiveness in the global economy and social aspects.

    According to the EEB, these two conclusions must essentially be included in the Commission's own proposals, as well as other specific proposals related to the sustainable development strategy, investment programmes, public procurement and global responsibilities.

    By Jane Kettle

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