Wallström urges Poland to act on environment

EU commissioner tells Polish parliament to speed up work on transposing EU legislation

The EU's environment commissioner told the Polish government yesterday that it should pay more attention to compliance with EU environmental laws as it prepares to join the 15-member bloc.

Speaking to deputies in the Polish parliament, Ms Wallström said the country needed "to speed up its efforts to participate in EU environmental policy" after a report last year showed a "bleak picture" in its progress (ENDS Daily 14 October 1999). Ms Wallström said that Poland had "a lot of legislative work ahead" and that "environment should be granted higher priority."

A spokesperson for Ms Wallström said that a rush for economic growth, and not higher environment standards, was "still driving the [EU] enlargement process" in Poland. She said the aim of the commissioner's visit was to persuade the country to turn the steering wheel back in a "green" direction.

The spokesperson said finance and foreign ministers had both stressed to Ms Wallström the high costs of investment to meet EU standards in areas such as sewage treatment; Poland has requested the greatest number of "transition periods" to comply with EU laws after accession (ENDS Daily 9 December 1999). However, the commissioner said the health benefits of improving water quality would amount to euros 1bn annually and that the benefits of meeting EU air quality standards would exceed costs by 50%.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; Polish environment ministry, tel: +48 22 825 0001.

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