Two more EU integration reports adopted

Contrasting levels of progress shown in documents for EU leaders adopted by energy, industry, ministers

Two more EU ministerial groupings have adopted reports to heads of government on how they intend to integrate environmental issues into their work. Formally approved at a joint meeting in Brussels of energy and industry ministers, the two documents reveal contrasting levels of progress in developing the "Cardiff" process by the two sectors.

Launched at the Cardiff summit of EU leaders in June 1998, the EU's environmental integration project is approaching an important review point next month. Heads of government will take stock of progress made by nine ministerial groupings at their Gothenburg summit. The finalisation of papers on energy and industry for the summit leaves only internal market and development cooperation ministers still to report.

Energy ministers' strategy for integrating environment and sustainable development into energy policy builds on a first paper submitted to the Helsinki summit of EU leaders in December 1999 (ENDS Daily 13 December 1999). It welcomes a recent European Commission report on progress since 1998 in integrating environmental issues into energy and transport policies (see link below).

In a resolution to EU leaders, ministers say they "recognise the need for strengthening the strategy," and reiterate their intention to "strengthen efforts" to agree an EU framework for energy taxation. They also "urge" the Commission to propose a series of new initiatives and policies to encourage environmental integration.

Among these are a review of the compatibility of existing energy legislation with sustainable development objectives, including climate change, "with a view to removing inconsistencies". A next review of the strategy is set for December 2002 at the latest.

Though adopted at the same meeting, industry ministers' contribution to Gothenburg presents a vivid contrast. Just three pages long, it contains virtually no new elements since an interim report adopted in late 1999 (ENDS Daily 10 November 1999).

Like the earlier document it aims at integrating all three pillars of sustainable development equally, giving no special weight to environment. Likewise it carries over an earlier key recommendation for "priority" to be given to market-based and voluntary instruments. Policy makers at all levels should act as "catalysts" for action by industry and other stakeholders, ministers agree.

Follow Up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111, and minutes of the 14-15 May energy-industry council. See also European Commission environmental integration web pages, and Commission 21 March 2001 working paper on integration in energy and transport policies.

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