NGO lists German EU presidency demands

Nabu calls on new government to put ecological tax reform high on Europe's agenda

German environmental group Nabu called yesterday for Germany to create an EU-wide initiative to shift taxes from labour to energy under its EU presidency, which begins in January. The group published its ten demands one day before German environment minister Jürgen Trittin and EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard were due to meet to discuss the forthcoming presidency.

High on Nabu's wish-list is an ecological reform of national tax systems, which it claims would raise employment levels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "We want the German presidency to make ecological tax reform a theme in EU politics," a spokesperson said.

Shifting taxes from labour to energy would also enable environmental concerns to become more integrated into other policy areas, the environmentalists say. Germany's new governing Social Democrat /Green Party coalition raised energy taxes earlier this year as a first step towards a promised national ecological tax reform (ENDS Daily 10 November).

Nabu demands "some meaningful progress" towards reforming EU agricultural policy under Agenda 2000. A Nabu spokesperson told ENDS Daily he was optimistic that the new government would facilitate this discussion more than the previous Christian Democrat /Christian Socialist coalition, which drew a lot of support from farming associations. "We are far more hopeful" that the new government will give environmental issues across the board more importance, he continued.

The German presidency should seek agreement for an amendment of current EU packaging legislation that would protect Germany's controversial quota for refillable drinks containers, Nabu says. Germany has received various threats of court action from the European Commission concerning the quota, which European drinks manufacturers in other member states claim damages competition.

The group also wants the EU to ratify the pan-European convention on public participation in environmental decision-making which it signed earlier this year (ENDS Daily 25 August). Germany was the only EU country not to sign the convention when it was finalised in Århus, Denmark.

Follow Up:
Nabu, tel: +49 228 97 561.

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