EU leaders urged to green economic strategy

Environmental issues must be integrated into Lisbon process, say advisory bodies

EU leaders came under pressure from environmental experts today not to ignore green issues at next week's spring summit in Stockholm. The Stockholm summit is intended to assess progress since EU leaders' pledge last year to make Europe by 2010 the world's "most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy". Environmental issues are not on the agenda, though they will be a central focus at the summer Gothenburg summit, where EU leaders are expected to adopt an EU strategy on sustainable development.

But long-term economic development cannot be ensured without also considering the environment, say members of the network of European Environmental Advisory Councils (EEAC) in letters sent to most EU leaders today. EU leaders must "commit themselves at Stockholm to extending the Lisbon process to embrace the environmental dimension," the group says. The EEAC recently called for a parallel greening of the EU's forthcoming sustainable development strategy (ENDS Daily 22 February).

Adding her voice to the debate in a speech in London today, EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström agreed that the Lisbon process should be greened, and expressed confidence that EU leaders would accept this next week, in line with a recent European Commission recommendation.

Contained in a February communication on the Lisbon strategy, this stresses that the process "risks failing to deliver long-term prosperity unless it also identifies and tackles unsustainable trends". A key target, it suggests, should be to have identified by next year's spring summit "the decisions required to adapt the Lisbon strategy to the objectives [to be] identified in Gothenburg".

Ms Wallström went on to stress that the Lisbon process should be basically good for sustainable development, albeit in need of environmental guidance. "Lisbon is about market reform, more competition and technological innovation," she said. "I am convinced that these are a good recipe also for environmentally sustainable development".

Follow Up:
EEAC, contactable via its current focal point, the UK's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, tel: +44 20 72 73 66 35. See also EEAC statement and Commission communication on the Lisbon strategy.

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