EU to review strategy to integrate environment into internal market policies

The Competitiveness Council adopted on 14 November a report on the integration of environmental protection and sustainable development into the internal market aspects of competitiveness policy. The report shows that Member States have an important deficit in implementing environmental internal market directives.

The progress report adopted by the Competitiveness Council on 14 November wants to review the integration strategy in view of the recent Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development and the adoption by the EU of its 6th Environmental Action Programme. The report draws the attention to the following elements:

  • Member States’

transpositionof internal market legislation in the field of the environment still shows a serious deficit: in October 2002, the average deficit for environmental measures stood at 4.6 per cent; this is down from 6.2 in October 2001, but much higher than the overall 2.1 per cent transposition deficit for all internal market directives (seeEURACTIV 12 November 2002);

  • under the Commission's Action Plan for better regulation, the EU will introduceimpact assessmentsfor major policy proposals;
  • the Commission should closely monitor the application of themutual recognition principle;
  • an increased use of mandates forstandardisationwork in the field of environment should be fostered. For this the Commission is preparing for mid-2003 a document on integrating environmental aspects into standardisation;
  • the practical application of theIntegrated Product Policy(IPP) approach in the internal market should be evaluated. The Commission is expected to publish a Communication or White Paper on IPP in 2003;
  • Council and Member States should encourage the use of environmental considerations in the field ofpublic procurement;
  • good progress has been made in the adoption by companies ofeco-labelling: the number of companies using this scheme rose from 53 in 2000 to 95 in 2001 and 124 in 2002;
  • increasedconsumer awarenessshould be encouraged;
  • there was anincrease of environmental aidsin Member States;
  • twelvevoluntary environmental agreementswith industry were acknowledged between 1998 and 2002, but none since the Gothenburg Council;
  • integration of environmental considerations into companyfinancial statementsshould be encouraged
  • the adoption ofEco-management and audit schemes(EMAS) has increased;
  • the percentage ofenvironmental taxesin Member States has remained stable since 1995.


In May 2001, the Internal Market Council adopted a report for the Gothenburg Summit on how to integrate environmental protection and sustainable development into the EU's internal market policies. The Council also demanded a report on progress on implementing this strategy by the end of 2002.


The review of the integration strategy will start under the forthcoming Greek Presidency and should be concluded under the Italian Presidency by the end of 2003.


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