The European Consultative Forum on the Environment and Sustainable Development urged EU heads of state to use the forthcoming Cardiff summit to "create a new type of European leadership...based on the integration of environmental responsibility in a wider international context and in all sectors of society".
Looking forward to the summit, for which the Commission is currently drafting a paper on integration (ENDS Daily 10 February), the forum urged heads of state to adopt a "Cardiff declaration on the principle of European environmental integration". The declaration should establish a "timetable and procedure," leading to Commission and government "action plans" and should establish "regular reviews and reports on progress and obstacles," it said.
Created in 1993 to advise the European Commission, the forum was renewed in 1997 and given an additional mandate to look at sustainable development issues (ENDS Daily 20 May 1997). It is chaired by Norwegian statesman Thorvald Stoltenberg and includes members from European Economic Area and central and eastern European as well as EU countries.
All EU institutions should "fully reflect" the principles of integration and shared responsibility, the forum said yesterday. In particular, the European Commission should attach an integration statement to every legislative proposal, and every Commission department should take full responsibility for integration in its own area. Furthermore, the Commission should review the regulatory framework for EU programmes and funds in the light of sustainable development.
Within national and local government, "all sectoral ministries must take environmental responsibility for their own plans," the forum said. "Equally important," they "will have to make sure" that other stakeholders in their sector contribute. In addition, governments were called upon to integrate environmental considerations into public procurement policies, and the forum suggested that the Commission assess how current EU procurement legislation could be greened.
Environmental impact assessments should be widely used in national and local policy-making, the forum said. "Even where no environmental impact can ultimately be identified...it is essential to pause and reflect on the possible implications that the decision may have for sustainable development." Returning to the EU-level, the forum declared strong support for the draft strategic environmental assessment directive, which is currently buried in the Council of Ministers.
Integration is a matter for all stakeholders and not just governments, the forum stressed. In businesses and other organisations all employees should have a basic environmental knowledge, while those with key responsibilities for integration should receive additional training. Businesses should make annual environmental reports and should use environmental management systems such as ISO 14001 and EMAS.
European Consultative Forum on the Environment and Sustainable Development at the European Commission DGXI, tel: +32 2 296 8004.
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