EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström has strongly criticised efforts by central and eastern European (CEE) countries, and especially Poland and the Czech Republic, to raise their environmental standards to EU levels. CEE countries due to join the EU were making too little effort to comply with environmental directives, the commissioner said today during a conference in Helsinki designed to take stock of overall progress in EU environmental policies. "We are not at all satisfied with Poland and the Czech Republic in particular, as they have not shown the political will to take their environmental responsibilities," she added. The commissioner said that the countries had "even asked for an extension to a 14-year transitional period to comply with EU legislation". "The public must be shown the facts and figures, and NGOs ought to put pressure on these governments," she went on. The two countries are among six to have presented the Commission with preliminary positions on transition periods for environmental compliance after a legislative screening exercise earlier this year. Negotiations are due to start early next year (ENDS Daily 26 July). Ms Wallström's comments were backed up by Finland's environment minister Satu Hassi, who is also the current chairman of the EU Environment Council. "The EU definitely has strong leverage on those countries applying for membership to force them to comply," she said.
European Commission environment directorate, tel: +32 2 295 296 9555.
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