Select Committee on Environmental Audit First Report


3. Environmental policy integration (EPI) is the process of integrating environmental considerations into all economic and sectoral decisions such as those concerning transport, agriculture and industry. It is a concept of policy-making rather than a specific method. Whilst environmental regulators can make policies which influence these other sectors, it is equally important that policy makers in each sector directly consider the pressures on the environment that they are influencing when they formulate policy.

4. The Committee's specific remit is to monitor the integration of environmental considerations into all policy areas at UK level and we have reported on the UK government's progress with this agenda.[3] The EU is also undertaking a number of initiatives to integrate environmental considerations into all EU policies and procedures which will be evaluated at the Helsinki European Council in December. The Committee is therefore interested in the UK's contribution to these initiatives and their impact on UK policy. The Summit is also expected to decide whether there should be an overarching EU sustainable development strategy and/or a sixth Environmental Action Programme.

5. This report sets out the Committee's views on the progress made towards EPI in advance of the Helsinki Summit.

6. We looked at:

—  the impact of the new Treaty provisions on EPI agreed at Amsterdam;

—  the approach adopted to the setting of sectoral strategies as required by the Cardiff, Vienna and Cologne European Councils, in particular assessing the lessons learned from the progress made by the Transport, Energy and Agriculture Councils and the requirements for other sectoral strategies;

—  the operation of the procedures within the Commission for ensuring that environmental issues are addressed with respect to policy development, and the case for further institutional change to secure improved coordination;

—  the lessons learned from the Global Assessment of the Fifth Environmental Action Programme; and

—  the case for a sixth Environmental Action Programme, targets and indicators and/or an EU Sustainable Development Strategy and related issues.

7. The Committee will return to the issue after Helsinki to assess subsequent developments and decisions.

8. The Committee was grateful for the memorandum from the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions which set out the history of the integration process and the Government's view on future progress. Memoranda from English Nature, various non-governmental organisations and Ms Anita Pollack (Labour Member of the European Parliament 1989-99) provided further helpful perspectives on the integration process. The Committee would also like to thank Dr Andrew Jordan and Dr Andrea Lenschow for early sight of their work on a comparative analysis of the implementation of EPI by Member States and the institutions of the EU.

9. The Committee took oral evidence from: Rt Hon. Michael Meacher, MP, Minister for the Environment, Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions; Mr Tony Brenton, Director, Global Affairs, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; English Nature; European Environmental Bureau-UK Branch (represented by The Green Alliance, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Council for the Protection of Rural England) and Dr Andrew Jordan (University of East Anglia).

10. We were also grateful for the specialist advice offered by David Wilkinson from the Institute of European Environmental Policy.

3  Second Report from the Environmental Audit Committee, The Greening Government Initiative, HC 517-I, Session 1997-98, and Sixth Report, The Greening Government Initiative 1999, HC 426-I, Session 1998-99  Back

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Prepared 25 November 1999