Kok stands firm on environment

Environmental policy will not be withdrawn from the Lisbon agenda, despite mounting pressure put on the Dutch ex-Prime Minister Wim Kok's report.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) did not expect the Kok Report, which was presented to EU institutions this week, to be a green report, but it is now clear that the green agenda will not be over-ridden by other issues.

While stakeholders have generally welcomed the Kok Report on the state of the Lisbon strategy, there is considerable disagreement on how to strike the right balance between its economic, social and environmental agendas.

"The Kok Report takes a cautious traditional position on the balance between economic, social and environmental dimensions," stated EEB secretary general, John Hontelez. "More importantly, it takes the environmental dimension seriously."

The report stresses the need for consistency, delivery, the quick and full transposition of EU legislation, and benchmarking the Lisbon targets, including the 14 indicators, with environmental issues among them.

All in all, the report offered important recommendations on eco-innovation, getting prices right by removing harmful substances, providing green risk and encouraging green procurement, but Mr Hontelez said that there were some disappointments too.

It does not, for instance, refer to a longer-term Sustainable Development Strategy, adopted by Gothenburg in June 2001, which should function as a framework for the shorter-term economic activities triggered by the Lisbon agenda.

"What we find embarrassing is that in the description of global competition with Asia and the USA there is no reference at all to global sustainable development, or to the EU's global responsibilities relating to what was agreed internationally at the Johannesburg Summit and the Millennium Goals," he said.

He added that the EEB was also unsure of the Kok group's unconditional support for the Quick Start Programme infrastructure plans, which needed further investigation as its social, environmental and economic impacts still remained largely unclear.

By Jane Kettle



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