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ESC opinion on international trade and the environment

At its plenary session of 31 October 1996, the European Economic and Social Committee (ESC) adopted an own-initiative opinion on international trade and the environment.

The opinion, which largely supports the positions adopted by the Commission in this area, contains the ESC...
At its plenary session of 31 October 1996, the European Economic and Social Committee (ESC) adopted an own-initiative opinion on international trade and the environment.

The opinion, which largely supports the positions adopted by the Commission in this area, contains the ESC's analysis and views on the following areas:

- The environmental effects of trade liberalization;
- The need for multilateral cooperation in international trade relations;
- Product-related and production method-related measures;
- New instruments of environmental policy (including eco-labelling systems).

The ESC feels that the primary causes of environmental problems is not liberalized trade but the failure of markets and governments to price the environment appropriately. It therefore supports any effort to internalize environmental costs, including the "polluter pays" principle.

The Committee shares the view that it is possible to use international trade as an engine for achieving sustainable development if the proper environmental policy measures are taken at national and international level. In this context, it stresses the importance of activities carried out within the framework of the GATT/WTO and, in particular, of the role of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). The ESC agrees with the Commission that the incorporation of MEAs into the multilateral trading system should be given the highest priority.
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