Wallström backs business on environment

EU commissioner pledges less new legislation, more market instruments, greater consultation

EU environmental policy making will become significantly more business friendly in future, European environment commissioner Margot Wallström pledged on Tuesday. Speaking at a meeting on companies and the environment in the European Parliament, Ms Wallström said there would be less new legislation, more use of market-based mechanisms and greater consultation with stakeholders before new policy implementation.

Having built an extensive platform of environmental laws, Ms Wallström said, the EU now needed to "regulate differently". Environmental problems had become more complex and more inter-linked, she claimed. Whereas past problems were often linked to major point sources of pollution, "today's problems are...a by-product of the way we live, work, recreate and commute".

The commissioner summarised elements of the forthcoming sixth environmental action programme due to be released early next year, which she said would aim at "working closer with the market via businesses and consumers".

Ambitious voluntary agreements would be supported, Ms Wallström said, adding that their credibility would be enhanced "if - instead of waiting until we have signalled our intention to legislate - business proactively came forward with proposed agreements".

The Commission would consider developing tools aimed at helping businesses understand EU environmental requirements and how to meet them. While failure to comply with requirements would be penalised, the Commission would also "support the development of national, but coordinated, company environmental performance reward systems".

Ms Wallström also claimed that the EU's emerging integrated product policy (IPP) would develop into a "win-win" scenario for the environment and business. IPP had "vast potential" for promoting a "new economic growth paradigm," she said. "We need the active engagement of business and consumers in order to take forward our commitment."

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and Ms Wallström's speech.

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