31. We are encouraged by the commitment to integration
expressed by both the President of the European Commission and
the Environment Commissioner. It will be important that this commitment
is taken forward through the work of the Commission on cross-cutting
issues both inside the EU and in its external relations.
32. Disappointingly, the new President of the European
Commission, Mr Romano Prodi, did not make reference to the environment
or sustainable development in his inaugural speech to the European
Parliament in September 1999. However, in a speech to the European
Parliament in May 1999, he acknowledged that the EU needed to
"give substance to the sustainable development option".
He cited environmental integration as one of the objectives that
needed to be pursued with special vigour in this regard especially
in relation to agricultural policy, incentives for industrial
innovation and infrastructure programmes.
In addition, Margot Wallström, the new Environment Commissioner
included Integration, along with Implementation
and Information, as one of her three "Is"
for achieving the environmental programme which she presented
to the European Parliament.
33. President Prodi has also announced the formation
of two sub-groups of Commissioners, one to look at growth, competitiveness,
employment and sustainable development and a second to look at
external affairs. Environment Commissioner Wallström will
be involved in both groups which may be a helpful boost to integration.
President Prodi will chair the first group, Chris Patten the second.
These groups have the potential to produce mechanisms for influencing
the environmental integration process but it is not clear at this
stage how often these groups will meet, how long they will be
established or what their terms of reference will be. The Committee
particularly welcomes the establishment of these initiatives on
cross-cutting issues and believes that environmental integration
and mechanisms to promote sustainable development across all Directorates
General should be prominent in their remits.
34. There are other, more general, Commission reforms
which could be potential vehicles for promoting integration. President
Prodi has already said that there will be a fundamental review
of the way in which the Commission works in order that it becomes
more efficient and effective. Vice-President Neil Kinnock is looking
at this issue and is due to report in February. This will mean
operational changes and Mr Meacher told us that Mr Prodi has already
proposed that the Energy and Transport portfolio should be brought
together under a single commissioner and that the directorates
35. It is clear that both individual directorates
and Councils tend to be very focused on their own subject areas.
Mr Meacher told the Committee that he thought that getting the
directorates to talk to each other in the preparation of policy
was the single most important area of improvement.
He did not think that it was structural change that was required
but changes in working practices and organisational procedures.
36. The Committee has heard that EU processes and
institutions do not naturally favour cross-cutting issues. 
Policy making throughout the EU tends to be sectoral and vertical
rather than horizontal. It is important therefore that the process
of integration also involves the Commission developing systems
to produce more integrated policy proposals for the Council and
Parliament to consider. The Commission has already committed itself
to a number of measures intended to ensure a better integration
of environmental considerations into its policy making and management.
screening of all policy and full environmental
appraisal where appropriate;
legislative proposals in the Commission's
work programme to be attributed a "Green Star" to indicate
where a detailed assessment of environmental consequences is required;
appointment of senior officials responsible
for environmental integration in each directorate-general (environmental
analysis of the environmental effects
of European Union funding;
greening of the budget; and
the development of staff training programmes
on environmental appraisal and integration.
37. We heard from both the Department and witnesses
that these were steps in the right direction but had not gone
The need for the effective use of environmental appraisals was
highlighted as a key area where the Commission should concentrate
38. At Cardiff, Heads of Government endorsed the
principle that major Commission policy proposals should be accompanied
by an appraisal of their environmental impact. A Commission review
of the existing system showed that it needed revision because
it was weak as a result of its narrow scope and there were difficulties
in attributing "green stars" because limited information
was available on the environmental impact of proposals. The
Commission is now considering replacing this system.
Ms Sue Collins (English Nature) suggested to us that perhaps what
the Commission needed was a 'red star' instead of a 'green star'
system to rule out and deny funding to policy proposals which
were judged to be inconsistent with sustainable development.
39. We took this idea further and asked the Government
whether perhaps the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers
could support the Commission's efforts to introduce effective
environmental appraisals of policy by declining to discuss proposals
that had not been screened for environmental implications and,
where appropriate, fully appraised. Mr Brenton (FCO) responded
that " The Commission is... very conscious of the pressure
that they are under because of the failure of the Green Star system..."
He went on to say "...We would hope that they will come up
with a more substantial and effective system... and the sorts
of checks and balances which you are suggesting may form part
of it for all we know."
The Committee recognises that it is for the Commission to propose
a "substantial and effective" system for conducting
and demonstrating environmental policy appraisals. However, we
think that it is within the ambit of the Council, and therefore
the initiative of Member States, to galvanise the Commission's
efforts by establishing its own approach to "checks and balances"
for policies that need environmental appraisal but where the work
has not been done.
40. The UK Government has produced its own appraisal
guidance for government departments "Policy appraisal and
and therefore the UK is in a position to understand the challenge
inherent in promoting the use of such guidance across departments
for whom the environment is not core business. The Committee has
considered environmental appraisal in both its reports on the
UK Greening Government Initiative and has found that it is still
at a very early stage of implementation in most departments' procedures
The Committee's latest report on the initiative commented that,
outside the DETR and some enthusiasts in other departments there
was not an "overwhelming groundswell of opinion in favour
of the environment being included... in policy making right at
the forefront of decision making."
41. A number of witnesses also highlighted the importance
of the Commission's moves to improve the training of staff on
environmental appraisal and integration. Dr Jefferiss (RSPB) thought
that there was very little in the way of "environmental expertise"
within the Directorate Generals and Council and Committee support
Mr Richard Leafe (English Nature) told the Committee that he understood
that Mr Kinnock's reform proposals would include measures to ensure
that the Commission was recruiting the brightest and the best.
Secondments from the private sector and non-governmental organisations
should be considered in addition to those from Member States'
42. The Committee welcomes the Commission's attempts
to reform its policy making and management in order to promote
EPI. The Committee has welcomed the Government's own efforts to
provide guidance on policy appraisal and the environment and there
may be lessons from that process that could assist the Commission.
23 Speech by Mr Prodi, Strasbourg, 4 May 1999,
24 Ibid Back
remarks by Commissioner nominee Margot Wallström, Parliamentary
hearings of the Commissioners- designate, 2 September 1999 [www.europa.eu.int/comm/dg11/speech/speech_parl.htm] Back
26 Q141 Back
27 Q128 Back
28 Q141 Back
pp. 62-3, 66 & 31-32 Back
pp. 17-18 Back
press release, IP/97/636, The Commission reviews its commitment
to integrate the environment in its policy-making, 11 July
46, 77 & 172 Back
Cologne Report on Environmental Integration: Mainstreaming of
environmental policy, Commission working paper addressed to the
European Council, SEC (1999) 777 final, paragraph 2, p. 3, 26
May 1999 Back
34 Q47 Back
35 Q174 Back
appraisal and the environment, DETR, March 1998 Back
426-1, Session 1998-99 The Sixth Report from the Environmental
Audit Committee, The Greening Government Initiative 1999, paragraph
59, p. xxv Back
38 Ibid Back
39 Q68 Back