EU has merely paid lip service to sustainable development, says Green leader

The EU should lead the shift to environmentally friendly technologies and deliver on sustainable development, says Monica Frassoni, President of the European Greens in an exclusive interview with EURACTIV.

Monica Frassoni, Co-President of the European Greens,
believes that Europe cannot allow a race-to-the-bottom in
environmental and social standards to develop in order to increase
competitiveness. For her it is a paradox that "Europe is perhaps
the wealthiest region in the world, yet people have the impression
that we cannot afford to take care of our environment and health".
The leader of the European Greens adds that Europe's industries
will be competitive in the future only if they are given "the right
incentives to develop technologies which are safer to the consumer,
use less resources, consume less energy and produce less waste".

She accepts that delocalisation of labour
intensive businesses from high- to low-wage countries is part of
the structural changes of developed economies. However, her view is
that relocation processes are "unacceptable if based on subsidy
shopping practices by enterprises, or harmful tax competition
between Member States". To counter this and fight tax evasion by
international companies, she advocates a common system for
corporate taxation at EU level.

The Green leader asserts that "the progress made
by the EU towards sustainable development has been little more than
lip service" and is critical of the fact that the EU has not been
able to agree "on objective measurable targets with deadlines for
achieving and assessing sustainability". "The EU has not been able
to decrease transport volumes, decouple resource use from economic
output, resolve the accumulation of waste, get rid of
environmentally harmful subsidies, or get closer to a sustainable
energy economy," she says. She argues that the decision on whether
or not to adopt the new chemicals policy in order to get the REACH
system up and running will show if the EU is really committed to
sustainable development.

The Belgian-Italian MEP states that "the
proposed level of expenditure on environment and nature protection
over the period 2007-2013 of around €350 million per year is
not sufficient and proves that the budget headings merely try to
window-dress the lack of real commitment".

As a European activist she believes that "the
Commission should develop towards becoming a European government
and that the powers of the European Parliament have to be increased
and the influence of the EU governments limited". She expresses
confidence that, despite the electoral situation, the Greens "will
come back with at least as many MEPs we have got now" and stresses
that "fewer Green MEPs in the Parliament would constitute a
set-back for progressive policies and legislation on issues
including environmental protection, social rights and social
protection, minority rights, the democratisation of the EU,

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