Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Building a sustainable Europe - Commission Communication on environment and employment

The European Commission has adopted a Communication on environment and employment entitled "Building a sustainable Europe". Jointly presented by Commissioners Ritt Bjerregaard (Environment) and Padraig Flynn (Employment and Social Affairs), the Communication aims to demonstrat...
The European Commission has adopted a Communication on environment and employment entitled "Building a sustainable Europe". Jointly presented by Commissioners Ritt Bjerregaard (Environment) and Padraig Flynn (Employment and Social Affairs), the Communication aims to demonstrate how environmental protection can contribute to job creation, how environmental and employment policy can be made mutually reinforcing, and how both these policies of common concern can be integrated into wider European Union (EU) policy making.

The Communication announces a concrete agenda for building a sustainable Europe, setting out a number of measures aimed at achieving a competitive economy combined with less environmental degradation, improved resource efficiency of energy and raw materials, and higher employment rates. Commenting on the adoption of the Communication, Commissioner Bjerregaard noted: "It is now clear that environment and employment are mutually compatible and that if the two policy areas give more attention to each other we will obtain greater results".

The Commissioner quoted from the "Employment in Europe Report 1997" pointing out that already 3.5 million people in the EU work in environment-related jobs. She also gave concrete examples of new possibilities: "A greater use of renewable energy could generate half a million of jobs by 2010, while in urban areas thousands jobs can be created through investments in renovation of houses and in public transport, improving considerably the quality of life and of the environment."

The Communication suggests a number of areas for action relating to five sectors in particular: industry, transport, energy, agriculture and consumption patterns. These include the following key actions:

- Highlighting best practice with regard to employment and environment and promoting success stories which can serve as examples;

- Promoting technology assessment and development and broadening the scope of existing assessment exercises to include employment effects and a detailed assessment of energy, resource and raw materials use;

- Continue and increase efforts to ensure that Community Funds and Instruments support, in an integrated way, employment and sustainable development, with particular focus on urban renovation and rural development;

- Continue the gradual restructuring of tax systems by reducing non-wage labour costs on the one hand, and on the other by incorporating environmental and resource costs into the market prices of goods and services;

- Promoting education and training to support the implementation of new environment-friendly technologies and working practices.

The Communication points to a rapidly growing demand abroad for environment-friendly equipment and services. While the European market was worth ECU 90 billion in 1994, at world level it is currently estimated to be around US$ 280 billion and expected to grow to US$ 640 billion in 2010, giving an annual growth rate of some 8%. Commenting on the Communication, Commissioner Flynn said: "The faster there is a shift to new, clean technology, the faster Europe will get a sustainable environment and more jobs."
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top