Skip to main content

Article Category

News

Article available in the folowing languages:

Commission resignation affects environmental work

Two Commission proposals for environmental work have been postponed as a result of the resignation of the European Commission (EC). In a recent newsletter, Ritt Bjerregaard, the current European Union (EU) Environment Commissioner, clarified which proposals have been stalled ...

Two Commission proposals for environmental work have been postponed as a result of the resignation of the European Commission (EC). In a recent newsletter, Ritt Bjerregaard, the current European Union (EU) Environment Commissioner, clarified which proposals have been stalled because of current uncertainties within the Commission. The affected proposals include one on "national emission ceilings", aimed at reducing acid rain and smog by up to 78% of 1990 levels by slashing emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ammonia and volatile organic solvents. The second proposal is aimed at setting up a penalty system for polluters. The Commission will soon put forward a White Paper on the "polluter pays" premise, which seeks to ensure that the Member States share responsibility for maintaining and enforcing rules applying to the environment. The proposal is intended to establish common rules to prevent damage to the environment and to strengthen the "polluter pays" principle. The White Paper will put forward a number of model options for ways to achieve environmental targets at the EU level. In the same newsletter, Commissioner Bjerregaard also reviewed the EC's recent activities in the field of chemicals, agriculture and environment, and genetically modified (GM) products. The EU, she said, is currently planning a new, more environmentally friendly chemicals strategy, which would maintain vigorous industrial development, while minimising the damage wrought by chemicals as they become entangled in the food chain. The Commission hopes that this chemicals strategy, now in development, will act both to minimize the environmental burdens of industrial chemicals and to remove public uncertainties over their safety. In the newsletter, Commissioner Bjerregaard also outlines how the Commission intends to encourage greater interaction between agricultural and environmental concerns, highlighting the following priorities: - A reduction in guaranteed minimum prices for beef, cereals and milk, since excessive consumption of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and energy cannot justify the effort; - Support for farmers in the Member States to depend more upon their compliance with environmental law, under this policy; - More support for farmers who pay attention to environmental protection; - Particular support for environmentally friendly dairy farming, with more money to be given to provide support for pasturage rather than numbers of animals; - In response to research claims that intensive agriculture and forestry is contributing to the deletion of species, the Commission is drawing up an action plan to see how European agriculture can continue to be highly productive without crushing natural biodiversity. Commissioner Bjerregaard also reviews the EU's position on GM products and stresses that only after all questions relating to GM products have been answered satisfactorily will the EU authorise such products for sale.