Call for stronger NGO role in EU policy-making

EEB demands stakeholder rules to end industry "dominance" of EU technical committees

The European Commission should strengthen the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and public authorities in technical consultations that form the basis of EU environmental policy, the European Environmental Bureau said today. In a report published today, the group says industry interests are dominating many of the EU committees that discuss policy initiatives.

The EEB says the "weakness" of NGOs and public agencies on the working committees is most apparent in EU chemicals, standardisation and industrial pollution control policies. On the other hand, it says, the working groups that guided the development of recent air quality directives had good stakeholder involvement and an "ambitious environmental mandate" and should serve as a model for future participation.

In its report, the EEB argues that the EU has "bypassed the democratic and legislative decision-making process" by delegating "considerable policy responsibilities" to technical committees. Guidelines are needed to increase the representation and resources of non-industry groups during talks in these committees if the environment is to be properly protected, the group says.

"The European Commission so far has failed to develop a systematic policy strategy to balance stakeholder participation....This should be a major issue for the sixth environmental action programme," said secretary general John Hontelez.

Follow Up:
EEB, tel: +32 2 289 1090; see also the report, "Towards Balancing Participation".

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