WWF demands greener Mediterranean

Group calls for more emphasis on sustainability, greater transparency, in EU programme

A new Mediterranean initiative planned by the European Commission is in danger of overlooking sustainable development in favour of free trade, environmental NGO the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said today. The second Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (MEDA II), currently being debated in the European Parliament, will replace the EU's three-year MEDA I programme which expired in 1999.

In a statement, WWF claimed that the Commission's proposed MEDA II programme was likely to "focus on trade at the expense of environmental, social, cultural and security aspects" of the partnership agreed under the 1995 UN Barcelona convention (ENDS Daily 21 November 1997). WWF's plan calls for more support for sustainable development through a sustainability impact assessment of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area.

"The Commission committed to this a year ago, but nothing has been done," Paloma Agrasot of WWF told ENDS Daily today. She said a declaration on water management, greater EU involvement at regional level, more public consultation earlier on, and greater transparency were also necessary.

WWF believes that, although the Mediterranean is under "severe environmental pressure," EU-Mediterranean protection projects, such as the short- and medium-term action programme adopted in 1997 (ENDS Daily 28 November 1997), have not taken off. This echoes findings recently published by the European Environment Agency (ENDS Daily 3 March).

Follow Up:
WWF European Policy Office, tel: +32 2 743 8800.

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