Environmental policies should be refocused to have a positive effect on employment and vice versa, according to the EU's official consultative forum on the environment and sustainable development. The panel, including representatives from NGOs, industry, trade unions and others, yesterday proposed a package of "key principles," which it says should be followed in order to realise joint policy goals. Based on a study of four sectors - transport, tourism, agriculture and energy - the forum concludes that the potential for linking environmental and employment policies to mutual advantage is variable. It is important to preserve the EU's global competitiveness and not to pursue "labour-intensive" policies for their own sake. It points out that policies that boost technological innovation in the environmental field have been proved to lead to significant employment gains and should be pursued. At the same time, the EU must strive to export its high environmental standards in order to create a level playing field. Looking to the EU's plans for enlargement, the forum advises that it will be necessary to develop "innovative programmes" to maximise benefits for the environment and employment.
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