Conservative set for EP environment committee

Caroline Jackson likely to chair European Parliament's new environment committee

British Conservative MEP Caroline Jackson now looks almost certain to be elected to chair the European Parliament's environment committee, ENDS Daily understands. Although the vote still has to take place, leaders of the political groups met in Strasbourg yesterday to carve up the key committee positions between them and agreed to her nomination.

Following the poor showing of the left of centre parties in the European elections, speculation had been mounting that the Party of European Socialists (PES) would lose leadership of the committee, which handles all EU environment, health and consumer protection legislation. Before the elections, the front runner to replace the outgoing chairman, Scottish Labour MEP Ken Collins, was German Social Democrat Dagmar Roth-Behrendt.

The choice of Ms Jackson would be welcomed by industry as she is considered to be open-minded to the concerns of employers. She has made no secret of her support for the car industry, for example, and was a director of Peugeot (UK) - a position she has now resigned because she saw it as "incompatible" with her new position.

Ms Jackson, first elected to the parliament in 1984, is a long-standing member of the environment committee, was its vice-chairman in 1994-6, and is perhaps best known as rapporteur on the landfill directive (ENDS Daily 21 January). She is described by colleagues as "tough", straight-talking and efficient - qualities that would come in handy if she were to ensure the smooth running of a committee which has to scrutinise large amounts of legislation over which the parliament now has joint powers of decision with national governments.

As well as guiding through new legislation, Ms Jackson told ENDS Daily that she wanted the parliament to put pressure on national governments to properly implement existing EU directives. "My priority would be to try to focus on legislation that has already been adopted and should be in force," she said. She has already suggested that government ministers be made answerable to the European Parliament over non-compliance with EU law.

Despite coming from a political party that traditionally favours leaving decision-making to member states, Ms Jackson has shown she is not afraid to push for mandatory laws to be fixed at EU level when appropriate. As rapporteur for a proposed set of minimum standards for environmental inspections, Ms Jackson convinced her colleagues that the dossier should be upgraded from non-binding guidelines to a full-blown directive (ENDS Daily 31 March).

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111; Caroline Jackson's website

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