MEPs adopt opinions on noise and precaution

Parliament broadly backs committee opinions during Strasbourg plenary session

The European Parliament this week endorsed several additions to Commission proposals on assessing and managing environmental noise. Meeting in plenary in Strasbourg, it also demanded clearer guidelines for using the precautionary principle and called for increased funding, but stricter definitions, for a proposed EU sustainable cities network.

The parliament yesterday backed proposals from its environment committee to add specific noise limits for areas around airports by 2006 to a draft directive on noise assessment and management which otherwise contains no such standards. Also in line with the committee's opinion (ENDS Daily 7 December), MEPs called for daughter directives to be developed with binding noise quality standards for commercial vehicles, motorcycles, railways and aircraft. The plenary stepped up the pressure on the Commission by asking it to draw up such proposals within 18 months.

A Commission communication proposing guidelines on how and when to use the precautionary principle was largely supported by the parliament, again in line with its environment committee's opinion (ENDS Daily 23 November).

However, MEPs backed an amendment proposing that the EU ask industries in "sectors which are a major cause of concern" to help fund research by contributing "a small percentage" of their annual profits. They also agreed that proposed guidelines for the principle's application needed further clarification.

The parliament's Green group was unimpressed by the final text, complaining that it was less ambitious than a resolution on the precautionary principle adopted last weekend in Nice by EU leaders (ENDS Daily 12 December).

MEPs also backed a separate Commission proposal for a network of cities to promote urban sustainable development. However, they backed away from an earlier call by the parliament's environment committee for the programme's budget to be increased by 60% to euros 20m, calling instead for just euros 14m. The plenary also passed amendments calling for tougher selection criteria for participating cities.

Follow Up:
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