Transatlantic NGO network bites the dust

Environmental groups blame US senators for American failure to provide funds

European and American NGOs have suspended an initiative designed to improve transatlantic environmental dialogue a failure by the US government to pay its share of agreed funding has caused a cash crisis. The move was announced today by the group's coordinator on the EU side, the European Environment Bureau (EEB).

The Transatlantic Environment Dialogue (TAED) was set up in 1999 at the request of the EU and US administrations, alongside similar networks for business, labour and consumer groups (ENDS Daily 4 May 1999).

The European Commission and the American government contributed US$200,000 (euros 233,000) and US$100,000 respectively for a first budget period, EEB head John Hontelez told ENDS Daily. But a second budget request to the USA has been held up by the Senate foreign affairs committee since January. The committee could theoretically still approve the funding, but Mr Hontelez said he was not confident, and in any case the TAED had already run out of money for many activities.

The TAED had proved itself a success in its first two years, Mr Hontelez maintained, holding three major meetings between US and EU environmental groups which also included senior government officials from the two sides. TAED representatives also met transatlantic political leaders at bilateral summits.

A series of working groups focusing on biodiversity, trade issues, agriculture, climate and industry were created earlier this year, but have not been able to be properly launched because of the funding problem.

A European Commission official told ENDS Daily the TAED's suspension was regrettable but not a disaster. "If the situation were to continue for many months then it would be very bad news," he said. "Our understanding is that the American administration is trying to unblock this."

Follow Up:
TAED convened in Europe by the EEB, tel: +32 2 289 1090 and in the USA by the National Wildlife Federation, tel: +1 703 790 4000.

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