Council wants expanded scope for environmental liability directive

At its meeting on 4 March, the Environment
Council held a public debate on the proposed directive on
environmental liability.

The debate in the Council focused on three main issues: the
scope of the directive, the suggested exemptions and the
financial guarantees.

During the debate it became clear that
all Member States were in favour of a clearer definition of
the scope of the directive and its expansion to include
issues such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and
injury to persons. However, clear indicators would have to
be developed to measure environmental damage.

The Ministers also agreed that
exemptions should be strictly defined, and expressed their
interest in developing community rules for financial
security, e.g. mandatory insurance schemes, to ensure that
the polluter pays, and not the society at large.


The outcome of the debate in the Council endorses some of
European Environmental Bureau's

concerns, e.g. regarding the inclusion of GMOs and the
insurance system.

, the representive body for industry, stated that the
Commission's proposal already went too far and posed a risk
to European industry's development. The Council's debate
showed that the Member States now appear willing to go even
further than the Commission.


In January 2002, the Commission issued a proposal for a
directive on environmental liability. The proposal aims to
ensure that future environmental damage is paid by the
polluter, and preferably prevented.


The European Parliament has not nominated a rapporteur and
commenced its first reading yet.


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