Parliament gets tough on EU enlargement

MEPs name 4 environmental directives to be transposed by accession, seek earlier nuclear closures

The European Parliament yesterday reiterated demands for EU accession countries to make swift progress towards full compliance with the bloc's environmental laws. A non-binding resolution adopted by MEPs calls for full implementation of four environmental directives by the time of accession and for most transition periods to last no more than five years. The parliament also called for earlier closure of three nuclear power stations than has already been agreed.

MEPs demanded that central and eastern European countries comply fully with directives on environmental impact assessment, environmental information and protection of habitats and wild birds by their accession. All four are "low cost" laws, reads the resolution. For more costly EU laws, such as the urban waste water treatment directive, MEPs call on the European Commission to allow transitional periods of no more than five years. In exceptional cases, longer periods may be required, MEPs have conceded, but the Commission should consulting the parliament before reaching any agreements.

The resolution also calls for hard-fought deals between the EU and Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia on shutting three "non-upgradeable" Soviet-designed nuclear reactors to be reopened. The agreed closure dates of between 2006 and 2009 (ENDS Daily 9 November 1999) are insufficient, MEPs argue, and should be replaced by a requirement of closure by the time of accession.

Other parts of the resolution call on accession countries to identify sites to join the Natura 2000 network of valuable habitats before joining the EU, and on the EU itself to provide more financial assistance for candidate countries' pre-accession environmental compliance.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111, and the enlargement resolution.

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