Euro-MPs attack EC green policy

THE European Commission yesterday came under blistering attack for its lacklustre attempts to protect the environment.

The first salvo came from Ken Collins, chairman of the European parliament's environmental committee. 'This Commission is uninspiring, uninteresting and unconvincing - its members have no imagination,' he said, having listened to the Commissioner for the Environment, Ioannis Paleokrassas, defend the institution.

'In the 1980s, arguments about the cost of not integrating Europe led to the internal market,' he added. 'The argument for the 1990s has to be the cost of not integrating environmental policy, because we can see it before us in Eastern Europe. We know if you don't deal responsibly with the environment you can cripple whole economies and devastate whole areas.'

In debate, MEPs of all parties had joined in attacking the Commission with unusual aggression, accusing it of half-heartedness, of shirking its responsibilities and of failing to live up to its promises.

In its defence, Mr Paleokrassas outlined some of the advances and complained the Commission had been unjustly maligned. 'I know the cost of failing to implement an environmental policy will be the death of the human race,' he said.

The debate underscores a deepening sense of despair among environmental experts. There is particular concern that disillusionment in the EC with the European ideal and the attempts to contain that by devolving power back to the most appropriate level of government have made the Commission a less effective instrument of change.

The MEPs are pushing for the Commission to adopt a more integrated approach to policy, to test all policy against environmental standards. Not all departments are keen. There is particular concern, for example, that the pounds 128bn earmarked until 1999 for regional spending and infrastructure development in the EC's poorest countries will not be properly 'green-tested', despite Mr Paleokrassas's assertion yesterday he had established a special committee to do that.

In December 1992, the member states adopted the so-called Fifth Action programme for the environment - a legislative framework for the future. The European parliament is anxious to press the Commission for a timetable for its implementation and managed to extract a garbled commitment from Mr Paleokrassas yesterday to draw one up.

Lack of action is not just the fault of the Commission. Member states have been unable to decide where to site the environmental protection agency, whose establishment they agreed three years ago was an urgent priority. Denmark, which took over the EC presidency in January with a promise to put environmental protection top of the agenda, has failed to table any significant initiative.

As one of the new intake of commissioners, who only took office at the beginning of the year, Mr Paleokrassas is still finding his feet, and his detractors are probably prepared to give him a little more time. But he will have to start delivering soon.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 12 months

£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler / Probate Assistant

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration Engineer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Logistics and Supply Chain

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral