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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

How Green Is The EU Presidency?

Belgium’s Presidency seeks to minimise environmental impact; mixed results for Spanish Presidency’s green agenda

Belgium, which takes over the EU Presidency on 1 July, has pledged to minimise the environmental impact of the meetings and summits it will host over the next six months.

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, the State Secretary for European Affairs and the Climate and Energy Minister have signed a ‘Charter for a Sustainable Presidency’, which provides a good practice guide for workers and a check list featuring a carbon footprint calculator, according to news website EurActiv.  Environment and climate change are among the five priority areas of the Belgian Presidency.

It cannot be overlooked however, that as Brussels is the home for several EU institutions, one would expect that the transport required would be lower.

In trying to reduce the environmental impact of its Presidency, Belgium follows the example of previous EU Member States such as France, Germany and Austria, which took into account the environmental impact of their Presidencies, according to the article.

However despite the good intentions EU Presidencies may have on environmental issues, the outgoing Spanish Presidency has shown mixed results, according to well-respected NGO the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). 

The EEB argues that the Spanish Presidency has had a good record on biodiversity but has failed to make progress on the climate agenda.

On the positive side John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General said in a press release “The Spanish Presidency will be remembered for its good work on biodiversity, where European heads of state and government endorsed an ambitious biodiversity target for the next decade”.  “It also made commendable efforts on EU soil policy, which was again blocked by a minority of Member States, and on improving legislation on electronic waste.”

According to an assessment by the EEB, the Spanish Presidency’s record is also found wanting in the area of industrial emissions, and it scored low points for its efforts on nanotechnology and hazardous chemicals.

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