Speaking at the Global Jean Monnet Conference 2007, in Brussels, on Monday, José Manuel Barroso said the EU was building sustainability into every area of its work.

The annual conference brings together policy makers, academics and other delegates from around the world to discuss European integration, and this year the two-day event put the spotlight on one of the EU’s major challenges – how best to promote sustainable development.

Mr Barroso told the conference: “I want to make it very clear that Europe is assuming its responsibilities.

“It is leading the way – leading by example and leading from the front.”

He said the fight against climate change is a core dimension of sustainable development and pointed to the EU’s targets to create a low-carbon economy as evidence of its leadership in this field.

“I am proud to say that the European Union is the prime mover on climate change,” Mr Barroso said.

“I believe this is a historic turning-point for Europe because it opens the way to a third industrial revolution. There is a widespread consensus that we must pursue the road towards a low-carbon society.”

He appealed to other industrialised nations to follow Europe’s example first, but added that developing countries would also have to be helped and encouraged to reduce their emissions.

He said: “We have a common responsibility with developing countries, of course, but there can be no one-size-fits-all policy when those who will suffer the most from global warming are also those who most lack the resources to counteract its effects.”

Mr Barroso said the EU would back the UN framework at Bali and keep applying pressure to reach an ambitious global agreement on tackling climate change by 2009.

Kate Martin

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