European constitution upholds environmental responsibility

WWF has praised the new European constitution for enshrining Europe's strong commitment to environmental protection and giving the EU a clear mandate to move towards a more ecologically sustainable economy.

The environmental group said the constitution provides a good basis for the EU to take a global lead in tackling major environmental threats such as climate change, chemical contamination and the loss of biodiversity.

However, the constitution was criticised for still carrying forward old wording unchanged from previous treaties in crucial policy areas like agriculture and fisheries.

The constitution states: “The Union shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment.” (Article 1 – 3)

The same article goes on to say that, in its relations with the wider world the Union “shall contribute to the sustainable development of the Earth.” In addition, it states that “environmental protection must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the policies and activities” of the EU “in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development.” (Article 111 – 119)

The constitution also gives one aim of EU energy policy being to “promote energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy.”

“The European Union’s bold statements in favour of sustainable development and environmental protection are about to be given the added status that a constitution brings,” said Tony Long, director of WWF’s European Policy Office. “This will make Europe unique in the world because these legally binding environmental commitments apply to such a large economy and population.”

“There is now every reason why European environmental leadership shown in the case of Kyoto treaty ratification should be shown repeatedly in areas requiring strong environmental leadership, including freshwater protection and sustainable fisheries management.”

By David Hopkins

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