Chris Patten highlights environmental priorities in northern European countries

Questions about future environmental policy for the EU's Northern Dimension - including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - were raised at the Foreign Ministers' Conference in Helsinki.

Chris Patten, Commissioner for external relations, addressed ministers on the subject of the Northern Dimension on 12 November.

“The Northern Dimension is still a new idea for the EU,” he said. “The Northern Dimension is sure to be an increasing part of the external relations of the European Union as enlargement brings in new members to the region. Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all candidates for accession” (see related story).

The EC believes that the basic aims of the Northern Dimension should be to “promote security, political stability and sustainable development”.

On the subject of the sustainable development and the environment, Patten announced the publication of a position paper entitled Environment in the Northern Dimension and other papers on gas supply and energy policy for the region.

Priority areas for environmental and nuclear safety were identified in Patten’s speech:

  • energy saving
  • investment to improve nuclear safety and reduce pollution to the seas
  • regional programme to combat climate change
  • environmental impact assessments for cross-border projects
  • more co-operation with NGOs

Specifically discussing nuclear safety and radioactive waste management, Patten stated that the EU must working with Lithuania and Russia to reduce operational risks at the ten reactors in power plants bordering the EU and it should work with Russia on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste issues.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie