EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard today claimed that EU countries could create half a million jobs if they pushed ahead with ecological tax reforms by shifting the burden of taxation from labour to pollution and resources. Speaking at a seminar on employment and the environment in Brussels, Ms Bjerregaard identified plans for an EU framework for taxation of energy products as a key environmental policy that could benefit jobs. She said both the environment and the jobs market would benefit by countries switching tax burdens from labour onto energy, and urged EU states to adopt the proposals for setting harmonised minimum levels of tax on energy products (ENDS Daily 7 January). Far from being a threat to jobs, the task of reducing greenhouse gases, would be a job creator, she claimed. "Achievement of the ambitious Kyoto agreement to reduce [the EU's] greenhouse gas emissions by 8% by 2010 will lead to creation of 1-2m additional jobs by the year 2010." Ms Bjerregaard said that the Commission's 1999 "employment guidelines," issued at the end of last year, required member states to actively search for employment opportunities "including those in environmental technologies and services". She said that heads of government would report back the Commission on this at the Cologne summit in June.
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