Greener EU employment strategy demanded

Proposed guidelines fail to promote positive links to environment, say EEB, ETUC

EU associations representing trade unions and environmental groups have strongly criticised a proposed political agreement to promote employment due to be discussed by EU employment ministers as well as by heads of state at next month's Vienna summit. The European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC) and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) say the 1999 employment guidelines fail to put sustainable development at the heart of EU policy-making in spite of pledges by EU heads of state to do so. According to the groups, the guidelines' only reference to the environment is a statement that the relationship between employment and environmental policies needs to be better understood. They say this ignores a recent report by the European Commission and a resolution adopted by environment ministers last month, which point out that positive links can be made between the two (ENDS Daily 7 October). The groups call for the guidelines to include five commitments by governments to: shift taxation from labour to environmental "bads;" reduce VAT and other indirect taxes on green goods and services; shift state subsidies from environmentally damaging activities to beneficial ones; use structural funds to promote sustainable development as well as job creation; and promote local environmental initiatives.

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