MEPs to assess EU enlargement green issues

Parliamentarians push for transparency, seek to ensure EU law implementation in practice

The European Commission's negotiations with potential EU members in central and eastern Europe on environmental compliance are too secretive and could lead to environmental harm, according to the chair of the European Parliament's environment committee. A team of MEPs from the committee is to visit the countries and report on their ability to implement EU environmental laws.

"Our aim is to achieve greater transparency," said chair Caroline Jackson at the parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg this week. The negotiations opened last year, after Commission president Romano Prodi said he would push for accession despite reports of slow progress on environmental compliance (ENDS Daily 14 October 1999).

Ms Jackson said Mr Prodi's emphasis on early membership might create a "groundswell to let them in" without proper consideration for the environment. "There is a real danger that applicant states will agree to put existing EU law on the statute books, but then fail to implement them on the ground," she said. Last year the Commission's environment directorate rejected several requests from accession countries for long derogations from environmental laws (ENDS Daily 9 December 1999).

Four MEPs will report to the parliament ahead of a hearing on environment aspects of accession planned by the committee before the summer recess. The parliament has no direct input to negotiations with accession countries but has the power to veto applications from potential members.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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