Scale of eco-employment estimated in EU states

Commission releases national surveys from Netherlands, Sweden, France, Portugal

Reports from four EU member states providing data on the number of people employed in environment-related industries have been published on the web. The results are not easily comparable because each country chose a different definition of eco-employment and calculated numbers using data from different sources. A European Commission official told ENDS Daily that a comparable EU-wide survey of environment-related employment should be complete by late 2001.

Portugal limited its focus to those working in commercial activities that contribute directly to environmental protection, primarily waste, water and wastewater management. Analysis showed that, in 1997, 90,158 people were employed in such activities.

France's data looks at employment between 1996 and 1998, and has a wider scope, including workers involved in the manufacture of equipment or provision of services for the environmental sector. Year-on-year rises in employment were recorded, with 1.32% of France's active work population employed in environment-related jobs in 1998.

A roughly similar scope was used by the Netherlands, which recorded 92,000 environment-related jobs in 1997, or 1.3% of the country's employed work force. More than one-third of these jobs were in the public sector.

Sweden created a database of all businesses and organisations with environment-related activities. The results showed that almost 95,000 people were employed in environment-related work in 1998, with their employers representing at least 4% of GDP.

None of the studies seeks to demonstrate whether increased environmental regulation leads to a net increase in employment. Neither will the study about to get underway. Due to begin in November, its aim will be to produce comparable data and to estimate the impact to the sector of EU accession by Central and Eastern European states.

The Commission published a communication on the environment and employment in 1997 (ENDS Daily 19 November 1997) and an update on eco-industries was included in a document on the sector's export potential, published last year.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; four national environment and employment studies, also 1997 communication, and the 1999 report on eco-industries' export potential.

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