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Commission adopts White Paper on environmental liability

The European Commission has recently adopted a White Paper on 'Environmental Liability', aimed to explore how the 'polluter pays' principle can be best applied to serve the aims of Community environmental policy.

One of the main aims of Community environmental policy is to av...
The European Commission has recently adopted a White Paper on 'Environmental Liability', aimed to explore how the 'polluter pays' principle can be best applied to serve the aims of Community environmental policy.

One of the main aims of Community environmental policy is to avoid environmental damage and the polluter pays principle is one of the key environmental principles in the EC Treaty.

The new paper is a response to a request from the European Parliament for a Commission proposal for legislation in this field. The White Paper explores how a Community regime on environmental liability can best be shaped. Now, having explored the different options for Community action, the Commission concludes the most appropriate option is for a Community framework Directive on environmental liability.

At present, EU Member States' legislation on environmental liability covers damage to persons and goods and liability for and clean-up of contaminated sites. Yet, until now, these national regimes have not addressed the issue of liability for damage to nature - the area addressed by the White Paper. The Commission now hopes the introduction the White Paper will bring about a change of attitude that should result in an increased level of prevention and precaution.

On adoption of the White Paper, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Ms Margot Wallström, said:

'We have now laid the foundations for an environmental liability regime for Europe. Legislation in this field will provide common rules to ensure that polluters will effectively be held responsible for environmental damage they cause. This will improve protection of the health of Europeans and our natural environment'.

The Commission is now waiting for feedback on the White Paper from the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, as well as other interested parties.

Comments can be sent to the Commission before 1 July 2000 using a feedback form, which is available from:

URL: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/liability/index.htm
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