Eco-efficiency: the key to bridging Gothenburg and Lisbon agendas

The Dutch Presidency drew attention to the economic opportunities of eco-efficiency in its informal environment Council from 16-18 July.

Since the end of 2003, European business and several Member
State leaders have started questioning the positive relationship
between environment and competitiveness by criticising the EU's new
chemicals policy REACH and the EU's Kyoto commitments. Although an
essential pillar of the Lisbon goals to become the world's most
competitive knowledge society by 2010, environmental policies and
sustainable development have come under fire as a potential burden
weighing heavily on European industry in its fight to stay
competitive on the global markets.

By organising an informal Environment Council
focussing on the economic opportunities of eco-efficient
innovations, the Dutch EU Presidency wanted to highlight the
potential solutions for decoupling economic growth and
environmental pressures. "Europe can increase its competitiveness
by promoting efficient environmental policies" was the main message
from the 25 environment ministers meeting in Maastricht from 16-18
July.

Some of the ideas endorsed by the environment
ministers to stimulate the development of environmentally friendly
innovations and thereby improve European industry's competitiveness
are:

  • a
    European system for 'green' investments;
  • the
    abolition of subsidies which are ecologically
    undesirable;
  • governments to use green criteria in their
    public procurement, eg. making the use of
    water-based paints for governmental buildings mandatory in all EU
    Member States
  • promoting
    clean, quiet and economical cars, by stimulating
    clever technologies such as soot filters, cruise-control and
    onboard computers.

The Environment Council communicated these
proposals to Wim Kok, who is preparing the mid-term review of the
Lisbon agenda. The EU will evaluate its Lisbon strategy early
2005.

 

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