Select Committee on Environmental Audit First Report

Development of the integration process

16. The idea of integrating environmental considerations into EU policies is not new. The need for integration at all levels has been recognised for some time. The objective was introduced initially in the Single European Act in 1986. Article 130R, within the Environmental Title, stated that "Environmental protection requirements shall be a component of the Community's other policies." Integration also received priority in the EU's Fifth Environmental Action Programme (5th EAP) which was launched in 1992 for the period to 2000 in parallel with the Rio Earth Summit.[13]

17. The Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty), which came into force on November 1993, had as a principal objective the promotion of "a harmonious and balanced development of economic activities, sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment."[14] However, the key driver for recent discussions on environmental integration has been The Treaty of Amsterdam which was agreed in October 1997 and came into force on

1May 1999.

18. A specific, free-standing clause (Article 6) was included stating that "environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Community policies and activities... in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development." The Treaty therefore established sustainable development as one of the objectives of the EU and an overarching task of the Community. Article 2 of the Treaty also referred to sustainable development in similar terms to the Maastricht Treaty with the key difference being that the reference was placed as an overarching objective rather than in a specific Title. Article 2 states that "The Community shall have as its task... to promote throughout the Community a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities... sustainable and non-inflationary growth... a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment..."

19. The UK Presidency in 1998 sought to translate the fine words of Article 6 of the Amsterdam Treaty into some tangible action. The Cardiff European Council (June 1998) invited all relevant formations of the Council of Ministers to establish their own strategies for giving effect to environmental integration and sustainable development within their respective policy areas. Three sectoral Councils (Transport, Energy and Agriculture) were invited to start the process (now dubbed the "Cardiff process"), in which the "green baton" is to be passed along successive Presidencies, and to provide initial reports to the Vienna Summit in December 1998. Heads of Government also endorsed the principle that major Commission policy proposals should be accompanied by an appraisal of their environmental impact.

20. Subsequent European Councils have done little more than add further sectoral Councils to the list of those required to produce integration strategies. At the request of the Vienna Summit in December 1998, the Commission submitted a progress report[15] on the mainstreaming of environmental policy to the Cologne Summit in June 1999. This included an up-date on action within the Commission.

   21. The Helsinki Summit in December is expected to evaluate a number of key programmes and policies related to sustainable development and integration:

—  Heads of Government are expected to review the overall progress on integrating the environment in order to link the sectoral, integration strategies developed by the various formations of the Council of Ministers. (Across these strategies the Commission has suggested that the cross-cutting issues of climate change, trade & environment, and health issues should be the focus of discussions);[16]

—  Transport, Agriculture and Energy Councils will submit integration strategies. Development, Internal Market and Industry Councils are also expected to submit preliminary strategies;

—  a report on the progress of headline indicators for environmental integration and the integration indicators for individual Councils is expected to be submitted to the European Council together with a draft report on trends against transport indicators produced by the EEA in co-operation with Eurostat;[17] and

—   a Global Assessment of the 5th Environmental Action Programme will be presented by the Commission.

22. The key events in the development of the integration process are presented in the table below.

13  UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio, Brazil, 1992 Back

14  Article G, Treaty on European Union, amending Article 2 of The Treaty establishing the European Economic Community. []  Back

15  SEC (1999) 777 final, The Cologne Report on Environmental Integration: Mainstreaming of environmental policy, Commission working paper addressed to the European Council, 26 May 1999. Back

16  Ev p. 44 paragraph 11 Back

17  Ev p. 47 paragraph 36 Back

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Prepared 25 November 1999