Jospin promises green-focused EU presidency

France aiming to lead European push for global precaution, sustainable development

French prime minister Lionel Jospin has pledged to make sustainable development and the precautionary principle central to France's six months as presidency of the EU later this year. Speaking in Paris on Monday, Mr Jospin also called for creation of a European "foundation for sustainable development," and a "World Environment Organisation" alongside the existing World Trade Organisation.

Portugal will hand over the EU presidency role of coordinating the Council of Ministers and representing the EU internationally on 1 July. France has already pledged to seek stronger maritime safety measures while it holds the presidency (ENDS Daily 7 January). Mr Jospin's speech suggests a much broader push on environmental issues.

Achieving sustainable development would require "new ways of governing" and "voluntarism" on the part of governments, said Mr Jospin. He added that the world needed to achieve "political globalisation" to match economic globalisation and said that Europe could play a key role.

"Our vision of society, the values that we share, the will that we have to advance together have already enabled us in Europe to place the foundations of a veritable [sustainability] strategy," he said. For this reason, France's EU presidency term would be "inspired" by sustainable development while further developing the precautionary principle would be "a priority". The government would also "very soon" appoint an ambassador for the environment and would develop a national sustainable development strategy, he added.

At world level, Mr Jospin said, the onrush of globalisation meant that "the moment has arrived to give global regulation a new architecture". France would promote debate on this issue in the run-up to the international debate planned in 2002 to mark the tenth anniversary of the 1992 "Earth Summit," he said. In this context, creation of a World Environment Organisation as a forum for negotiating global environmental norms was an idea that had taken on "renewed importance".

Follow Up:
French prime minister's office, tel: +33 1 42 75 80 00, and Mr Jospin's speech.

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