Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview
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3. EUROPEAN UNION

(1) General Developments

(a) Fifth Community Action Programme

Pursuant to Art. 130s, para. 3 of the European Community Treaty, which stipulates that environmental action programmes must be adopted in co- decision by both the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission, in early 1996, submitted to the Council a draft decision regarding the revision of the Fifth Community Action Programme. The draft decision covers developments in different sectors of the Fifth Action Programme, stipulates priorities, foresees a diversification of tools, a better integration of environmental requirements into other policies, and more efficient legislative measures. But it does not propose any specific measures. During the year it became apparent that the draft needed additional revisions.


(b) The Maastricht Treaty

Deliberations on the adaptation of the Maastricht Treaty by the Intergovernmental Conference continued. Many of the draft proposals sought to reinforce the relevance of environmental protection in the Treaty, and to put it on par with other essential Community mandates.


(c) Instruments

Deliberations continued also on the use of instruments other than legislative control and command tools. The Fifth Action Programme's draft revision acknowledges that while regulation remains an essential tool, it must be simplified and made more coherent, and that complementary instruments for coercive purposes must be set up "to significantly change the tendencies and actual practices for sustainable development."

The draft decision suggests that market instruments, horizontal instruments, and financial incentives are necessary. Among market instruments, special attention should be paid to the use of environmental taxes, implementing the concept of environmental responsibility, the use of negotiated agreements and the encouragement of tax reform to strengthen environmental protection. Among horizontal instruments priority should be given to: methods for evaluating the environmental impact of national plans and programmes; environmental auditing and management in sectors other than industrial ones; the role of standardization; and environmental criteria for awarding procurement contracts.


(i) Trade and Competition Issues

Experience has shown that the use of these instruments by member states may hinder the operation of the Common Market. One of the fundamental

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Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7
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