Employers question EU target-setting in 6EAP

Unice says next EU environmental action programme should define priorities, not targets

The EU's sixth environmental action programme should establish a set of "guiding priorities" and "qualitative objectives" for environmental improvement rather than fixed quantitative targets, according to the European employers' organisation Unice. Unice says the programme should be used to set up an "overall [EU] environmental framework" with detailed quantified objectives left for "follow-up initiatives."

The EU's sixth environment action programme is to be drafted by the European Commission by the end of the year. Last year, it concluded that the previous programme, which included many quantitative targets, had largely failed (ENDS Daily 25 November 1999). EU environment ministers last month endorsed the Commission's outline plans for the new programme, calling for it to include "qualitative and quantitative targets where appropriate" (ENDS Daily 30 March).

In a position paper, Unice says the programme should be used instead to set out fundamental principles of EU environmental policy, the instruments to be used in reaching targets, and the roles to be played by different stakeholders. Without clarifying these, it says, the EU will find it "very difficult to define environmental objectives with a genuinely strategic character" and "optimise the efforts of all the players involved."

Unice said it supported the ministers' declaration that the number of policy instruments to achieve environmental improvement should be widened. But it said that the "dominant role played by regulation" should be reviewed, with more use of self-regulation, voluntary initiatives and negotiated agreements, and "market mechanisms."

Follow Up:
Unice, tel: +32 237 6511, and the position paper.

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