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Joining the environmental liability debate

Francois Le Goff, editor ENDS Europe

ENDS Europe is used to presenting a wide range of opinions on environmental policy matters. But this week we have been portrayed as an active player in the debate over when and how to update the Environmental Liability Directive.

In a statement, the NGO Justice and Environment criticised views expressed by Barbara J. Goldsmith in a recent opinion article published by ENDS Europe. It also attributed her comments to ENDS.

Contrary to what Ms Goldsmith wrote in this publication, revising the directive is a must “after more than five years of practical failure”, it argues.

ENDS Europe very much welcomes this statement as we firmly believe it is impossible to have a sound environmental policy debate without hearing from a variety of point of views. No stone should be left unturned.

Not everyone shares Ms Goldsmith’s opinion, which was voiced in these columns in response to an ENDS Europe news article entitled “Liability rules must be applied evenly, EC told”. This article put a different point across, notably that the directive’s implementation is too patchy and that a level playing field is needed.

Ms Goldsmith, who runs a consultancy firm specialised in environmental policy and corporate practices and is director of the Ad-Hoc Industry Natural Resource Management Group, believes that a revision now would be premature. The directive needs more time to succeed, she says.

However, Justice and Environment argues it has collected sufficient evidence over the years to conclude that the existing regime is not working. The NGO calls for a more stringent system that, as it puts it, has not only the potential but also the means to effectively protect the environment.

As an independent and impartial environmental news service, ENDS Europe is keen to give Justice and Environment and any other stakeholder an opportunity to put forward their arguments. This is all the more important in the run-up to the directive’s review due to be completed by 30 April next year. Let the debate continue!

François Le Goff is the editor of ENDS Europe

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