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Annual meeting of the Commission and European environmental NGOs

The European Commission held discussions with the major Community non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for environmental protection on 1 February 1994. At this annual meeting, Commission President Jacques Delors and Commissioner Yannis Paleokrassas exchanged views with repre...

The European Commission held discussions with the major Community non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for environmental protection on 1 February 1994. At this annual meeting, Commission President Jacques Delors and Commissioner Yannis Paleokrassas exchanged views with representatives from the Bureau Europeen de l'Environnement (BEE), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace Europe and the Coordination Europeenne des Amis de la Terre (CEAT). Four main themes were taken up: - Foreign policy in the field of the environment (focusing on the subjects of Eastern Europe and GATT); - Sustainable development (the White Paper on competitivity and employment, trans-European networks, CO2/energy tax, the urban environment); - Participative democracy (access to information, use of EU resources); - Enlargement of the European Union (standards, agriculture and the environment). Among other comments made during the discussions, President Delors indicated that the Commission will prepare before the end of 1994 an overall assessment of EU actions in support of Eastern and Central European countries. Priorities established in this area are: to reinforce EU actions on nuclear safeguards; and to provide the Environment Agency with the human and financial means necessary to fulfil its role of scientific consultation in the decision-making process. With regard to GATT, the President noted that the Commission was prepared to incorporate social and environmental dimensions in future negotiations. Replying to NGO concern that some proposals in the White Paper on competitivity and employment maintained outmoded attitudes (for instance, the large-scale development of trans-European road haulage networks), President Delors stated that the White Paper introduces new ideas, but that this can only be done via a classical and accessible approach to ensure their acceptance. A part of the financing proposed for infrastructure will be dedicated to large-scale actions to the benefit of the environment. In addition, Commission policy supports the development of combined transport and better use of the railway infrastructure. Mr. Delors also expressed the Commission's determination to make the greatest effort towards the introduction of a combined C02/energy tax. On the subject of EU expansion, he noted that standards in the candidate countries are guaranteed by the Single Act. If those existing before the candidate joins the EU are higher than Community standards, they may be maintained within the new Member State. At the end of this meeting, it was agreed that close contact would continue between the Commission and the NGOs in view of the environmental aspects of several main policy areas the European Union will deal with in the coming months.

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