Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence




  The Common Agricultural Policy is one of the truly common policies of the European Union. It controls Community support for agricultural activities and influences land use across half of the EU territory. So far, economic support has been given to farmers in proportion to the amount of food produced. However, agriculture is not just a matter of producing food; it relates to the use of natural resources such as water, soil and plants with major implications for biodiversity and the landscape. The CAP operates through a system of production related subsidies, pushing the use of natural resources at an unsustainable rate. Many scientific and policy studies testify that this policy is responsible for environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, loss of jobs in rural areas and loss of traditional landscape.

  A more radical reform of the CAP is needed in the immediate future.

  The recent approval of the Agenda 2000 package of reforms, including the agricultural sector, has only partially begun to address some of the general environmental issues, with the approval of the cross compliance regulation, area payments in Less Favoured Areas, national envelopes and the creation of the Rural Development Regulation. However, the success of these first measures to integrate environmental concerns into the CAP will depend greatly on the extent to and ways in which these measures are implemented by Member States. It will also depend on the Commission's will to pursue the objectives of sustainability stated in the reform proposals.

  The Commission and the Council should pursue effective implementation of the current legislation to maximise the integration of environmental considerations into the agriculture sector. The Council and the Commission now have the responsibility and the opportunity to make the integration process something less abstract and more real through the production of a meaningful strategy for concrete action.


  For the effective implementation of existing policy instruments the UK Government should press for the strategy to contain the following:

  Within the CAP:

    —  The full application and monitoring of a mandatory Cross-Compliance measure in Member States. The Commission should withdraw payments where appropriate environmental conditions are not respected.

    —  A broad range of environmental indicators to monitor the state of the farmed environment.

    —  A call to Member States to make effective use of the National Envelopes to support extensive farming systems.

    —  A request for Member States to implement the Rural Development Regulation:

      —  by allocating appropriate economic support to the co-funded measures;

      —  by ensuring a balanced allocation of funds to different measures within the plans to avoid competition and distortion in the implementation of the new Rural Development Regulation.

      —  A commitment to ensure that:

    —  afforestation of grassland and pseudo-steppic habitats (formerly 2080-92) is not funded under the Rural Development Regulation;

    —  irrigation plans are not funded in extensive arable habitats which are part of the Natura 2000 network.

    —  A call for Member States to allow the participation of environmental Non-Governmental Organisations as competent participants in the appraisal of rural development plans.

    —  Allocation of priority funding for rural development projects with clear environmental and socio-economic benefits.

    —  A call for Member States to increase the funding of agri-environment measures and to give more support for converting to organic food production. Agri-environment measures should be primarily funded in areas where the Community has defined a priority of interest, such as SPAs (Special Protection Areas) and SACs (Special Areas of Conservation).

  In general:

    —  A commitment to enforce the full implementation of the Nitrates, Habitats, & Wild Birds Directives as required by EU environmental legislation, with no further delays.

    —  A commitment to encourage EU-wide adoption of economic instruments such as pesticide taxation in order to limit the harmful impacts of toxic substances used in agriculture while minimising distortions in the Single Market. This would be consistent with the Polluter Pays Principle enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam.

    —  A commitment to pursue the reduction of market protection through export subsidies and import levies in the forthcoming World Trade Organisation round. Market protection has environmental, social and economic impacts on developing economies, while protecting intensive agriculture in Europe.

    —  A clear undertaking to fully adhere to the Precautionary Principle of the Treaty when addressing the issue of genetic modification. No genetically modified organisms should be released into the agricultural environment until the potential risk to biodiversity and landscape has been rigorously assessed.

    —  A timetable to put in place a plan for the internalisation of environmental costs in agriculture through a combination of economic and regulatory measures.

    —  A timetable for a review and appraisal of environmental problems that any future policy review might bring (eg changes in the set-aside rate and changes in prices).

    —  Use of the preparation of sectoral Biodiversity Action Plans under the EC Biodiversity Strategy to identify priority farmland species and habitats which Member States should take action to protect. Sectoral Biodiversity Action Plans should:

      —  have clear environmental objectives, a monitoring system and flexibility to adjust priorities;

      —  indicate the likely costs of the proposed actions;

      —  include clear management guidelines for the Natura 2000 network.

    —  A commitment to increased funds for LIFE-Nature projects in agricultural areas.

    —  Use of the Water Framework Directive to ensure the sustainable use of water in agriculture.

    —  A proposal that during all the presidencies of the EU:

      —  at least one Council of Agriculture Ministers should take place together with a Council of Environment Ministers for agreement on indicators, implementation of agri-environment measures and progression of the integration process;

      —  at least one representative from each Council should report to the Summit on progress towards the integration of environmental protection in agriculture.

  The UK Government should also press for the strategy to also address the next round of reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy giving priority to:

    —  De-coupling agricultural support from production, addressing the decline of rural economies, promoting sustainable forms of agriculture, creating jobs and safeguarding the environment.

    —  Shifting funds to a new integrated rural policy that delivers support to rural communities, including farmers, and that promotes diversification of sustainable rural activities.

    —  Increasing the level of funding and expanding the coverage of agri-environmental measures to address specific environmental needs, and creating an effective monitoring system on the environmental benefits of the schemes.

    —  Eliminating competition for funding between different measures (eg the agri-environment regulation 2078/92 and the afforestation regulation 2080/92) by prescribing a balance of funding for different activities.

    —  Including strategic environmental assessment of policy reforms: future reforms of the CAP should undergo a thorough assessment of the environmental impact on biodiversity and landscape, as well as on the social and economic aspects of proposed changes.


  The Commission manages development co-operation programmes of around U$ 6.7 billion per year. The UK, through the Department for International Development (DFID) contributes about 15 per cent of EC aid resources, which absorb around 30 per cent of DFID's budget[4]. The integration of the environment into the EC's development and economic co-operation policies is therefore extremely important for the global environment. Improved environmental integration is also an important element in improving the overall effectiveness of EC aid. There is a clear legal basis for such an emphasis as Articles 177 and 174 of the Amsterdam Treaty give a clear commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. The EC is also party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention to Combat Desertification. All these conventions contain specific requirements to help developing countries which are parties to these conventions to meet their obligations.

  The RSPB welcomes the conclusions reached on the integration of environmental and sustainable development by the Member States at the last meeting of the Development Council[5]. This called for the Commission to prepare, in consultation with the Member States, elements of a comprehensive strategy, including a timetable for further measures, an analysis of resources and a set of indicators for the Development Council in November 1999. Those elements shall also include proposals on how to translate policy into practice. The Council also highlights a number of challenges which need to be faced in the preparation of this strategy.

  The November Development Council should focus on more detailed issues regarding the content of such a strategy. The RSPB puts forward the following recommendations to the Committee which we believe the UK Government should pursue at the Development Council and subsequently at Helsinki.


Consultation with other stakeholders

  The Commission has so far not made available to other stakeholders (such as NGOs) its report on integration presented to the May Development Council meeting. There are also currently no proposals to consult NGOs on the content of the report prior to its presentation to the Development Council. The RSPB, through BirdLife International, has requested the opportunity to input into the process.

    —  The UK Government should consult stakeholders in the UK on the Commission's strategy so that it can take these views into account in its position at the Development and Helsinki Councils.


  It is unclear from the Development Council's conclusions what status will be given to the Commission's Strategy. This needs to be clarified. If it were to form part of the Commission's policy it would be produced as a "communication". Under a different discussion, the May Development Council has also called for the Commission to prepare an overall development policy to be adopted in 2000.

    —  The integration strategy should set out a timetable for the drafting of an environmental policy to be applied to development co-operation which should be subject to consultation and be a key element of the Commission's overall development policy to be adopted in 2000.


  As a number of evaluations[6] have already highlighted, there is a very limited number of environmental specialists within the Directorates General responsible for development. This shortcoming was recognised at the last meeting of the Development Council[7]. DFID also highlights this problem in its Strategy for working with the EC[8]. However, Member States have limited the options for the Commission to increase the number of staff despite the considerable increase in the size of the budget. The current re-structuring of the development DGs initiated by the President of the Commission presents an opportunity to increase the size of the environmental teams. However, training should also be provided to other technical and desk officers.

    —  The UK Government should support the Commission in increasing the number of staff with environmental expertise through recruitment, re-organisation and reform of the development DGs and training. This expertise will be needed in the delegations as well as in Brussels.


  There have been many policy statements by the EC on the environment but these are not always put into practice. Therefore, there is a need for regular monitoring to ensure implementation. The reporting needs to focus not only on indicators, as called for by the Development Council, but also on targets. While targets and indicators which relate to procedure (such as the number of satisfactory Environmental Impact Assessments carried out) are useful, the EC needs to move towards using targets and indicators which measure the end result (such as CO2 emissions, rates of deforestation, etc). There are a number of international initiatives which could be used to develop such indicators.

    —  The integration strategy should contain a commitment to annual reporting on implementation of the strategy, including indicators and targets (covering number of staff with environmental expertise, the proportion of resources allocated to environmental projects, application of environmental impact procedures, and direct measures of the environment such as CO2 emissions, deforestation, water reserves, etc). This could form part of the overall annual report on EC development assistance which has been called for by the Development Council.

    —  Environmental targets and indicators need to be included in country strategies, sectoral communications (such as the proposed Communication on Forests and Development) as well as in the project cycle. This requirement should not be confined to the small number of projects which have environmental protection as their principal objective.


  The EC's development co-operation not only has a complex structure in terms of DGs; it is also split amongst many budget headings and different regulations (which give the legal basis). This includes budget lines for tropical forests and the environment in developing countries. DFID and others have called for the structures to be simplified.

    —  The strategy should make a commitment to maintain the separate environmental budget lines until significant progress can be demonstrated on mainstreaming the environment into other development co-operation spending. Budget line amalgamation should also be conditional on the implementation of a clear system for tracking of environmental spending on projects, including those with multiple objectives.


  The success of development co-operation is also dependent on policies pursued by other DGs. The Development Council has highlighted the need for policy coherence. More details on the EC's trade policy are given in RSPB's evidence to the Committee's inquiry into this area.

    —  The strategy should include joint measures with other DGs to address the impacts of the EC's other policies on development co-operation, particularly agriculture, fisheries and trade.


  The eleven Central and Eastern European countries negotiating to join the EU are particularly rich in biodiversity. However some of their most important species and places for wildlife are increasingly threatened as EU pre-accession funds are spent on agricultural intensification, and on transport, water management and other potentially damaging large-scale infrastructure developments.

  It is essential that biodiversity receives support from the EU so that it is not damaged by the effects of accession. To achieve this, nature conservation Directives, including the Birds and Habitats Directives, must be transposed effectively into national legislation in the accession countries, and their annexes updated.


    —  Projects funded by the Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA) Regulation should be subject to rigorous environmental impact assessment.

    —  Projects supported by Special Action for Pre-Accession measures for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD) should stimulate rural economies, create jobs and safeguard the environment, helping to maintain the numbers of people working and living in rural areas.

    —  A significant percentage of SAPARD funds should be allocated to agricultural activities that protect or enhance the environment.

    —  The proportion of funding for biodiversity projects and projects to build the capacity of NGOs in accession countries should be increased significantly under PHARE. PHARE is the major EU institution-building and investment fund.

    —  Extra Community funds should be allocated to collect, analyse and document data with respect to potential candidate Natura 2000 sites under the Birds and Habitats Directives.


  Climate change will have profound, often adverse, effects on biodiversity and on nature conservation policy. Many impacts of climate change on wildlife are already clearly visible both in Europe and worldwide. European plants now come into leaf 10 days earlier, on average, than they did 30 years ago. Birds are breeding earlier. Many species are extending their ranges northwards, where they can. Those on the edges of land masses or on islands may have nowhere to go.

  Global action to minimise climate change is essential—we cannot avoid it but we can still limit it. The commitments in the Kyoto Protocol will have a negligible effect. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global cuts in emissions of at least 60 per cent will be needed to avoid significant change. If it is to have any effect on the climate, and if it is to maintain its world lead on this issue, the EU must aim to exceed its 8 per cent (by 2010) Kyoto target by a considerable margin. Also, it must aim to reduce emissions at home. It should not try to offset its emissions abroad and should oppose other states that attempt to do so.

  The development and implementation of climate-related policies and measures across the EU has, at best, been patchy. Some states, such as Denmark, have taken a lead in implementing effective measures. Others have done little or nothing. As a whole, the EU has not done very much.


  As an absolute minimum the UK Government should press for the strategy to contain the following:

    —  A timetable for implementing energy saving measures in all sectors. Zero cost or net benefit options for between 10 per cent and 20 per cent emission reductions exist in almost all states.

    —  A timetable to reduce and eventually abolish all subsidies on fossil fuels.

    —  Measures to deploy increased renewable electricity generation capacity. EU policy to have at least 12.5per cent of renewable electricity generation by 2010 should be implemented. For thermal renewable systems, such as biomass, generation capacity based on combined heat and power should be strongly encouraged. Fossil fuel generation should be in the form of combined cycle gas turbines.

    —  An EU wide energy tax should be developed and implemented.

    —  The EU should insist on capping the ability to trade emissions under the Kyoto Protocol at 50 per cent of the total required reduction and should make every effort to exceed its own 8 per cent emission reduction target.

    —  The EU should push hard for an international commitment to greater cuts in the near future.


  The Cardiff Summit in June 1998 concluded that transport should be a priority sector for environmental integration. Adopted in 1992, the 5th EC Environmental Action Programme (1992-99) included as one of its key recommendations to pursue "a strategy aimed at reducing (or at least containing) the overall impact of transport on the environment".

  The EU Transport Council's brief report to the Vienna Summit (December 1998) on the integration of environmental and sustainability considerations into Community transport policy fell far short of the "strategy" which the Cardiff Summit envisaged. The report concluded that a coherent strategy for action in the short, medium and long term is needed. It also stressed that environmental considerations should be integrated "from the outset" into the enlargement process; and that the ongoing environmental assessment of the TEN-T must ensure a better integration of infrastructure planning and environmental concerns.

  The transport sector contributes to a wide range of environmental problems because of its ubiquitous nature, steady growth and large share of fossil fuel consumption. The main impacts of transport on the human and natural environment are on the climate, air quality, noise levels, land take, and nature and biodiversity.

  The latter are now widely recognised. For example, a recent report from the European Environment Agency[9] highlights loss of biodiversity and open areas in an increasingly fragmented landscape. This is an area where environmental progress is not being made in the EU, and clearly the development of large scale infrastructure is a critical element in this deficiency.

  Indicators are a central element of the integration process. The European Environment Agency and Eurostat are currently developing a Transport Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM). The first report is expected at the end of 1999.


  The UK Government should press for the strategy to include the following recommendations:

    —  Environmental concerns should be brought to the centre of Common Transport Policy (CTP) and Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy—including the review of the 1996 TEN-T Guidelines—rather than being viewed or treated as an "add-on", as has historically been the case.

    —  The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the TEN-T as a whole should be completed as soon as possible. The Commission should also carry out an SEA of the planned extension of this Network into the accession countries (ie the TINA) before works actually begin.

    —  For the purposes of sustainable development, there is a need for a broad set of indicators which take into account transport intensity, land use patterns, severance effects, etc, as well as more conventional indices of either transport volumes or environmental impacts.

    —  It is essential that TEN-T and TINA developments be compatible with existing EU environmental legislation, notably the requirements of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the setting up of the Natura 2000 network.

    —  The integration strategy for the transport sector should cover the main EU sources of transport funding: the European Investment Bank, the Structural Funds, the Cohesion Fund and the Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession (ISPA).

    —  Measures should be implemented to cut emissions from transport, by discouraging the use of cars and trucks and encouraging the greater use of public transport, especially trains. In particular, air transport, the fastest growing emissions sector, should be subject to a fuel tax. (International aviation and marine "bunker" fuels are currently tax-exempt.) As a first step towards imposing a levy, the EU must resolve the bunker fuel emission allocation issue in the Climate Change Convention process, NOT in ICAO or the IMO.


  The RSPB advocates fisheries management which maintains the balance between fishing effort and living marine resources, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability of fish stocks and a more stable marine ecosystem.

  There is growing recognition that the integration of environmental objectives in the management of EU fisheries is long overdue. The Ministerial commitments made in 1997 in Bergen on this integrative process for the North Sea challenge the institutional structures and strategic arrangements to address this issue.

  We therefore strongly welcome the Cologne European Council's call upon the Fisheries Council to report back to it in 2000 on the integration of environmental issues and sustainable development in the fisheries policy sector. We consider that, in this context, "to report back" should require all the elements required of other policy sectors invoked for integration by the Cardiff summit, namely to establish for Fisheries: strategies for integration; guidelines and a timetable for fulfilling strategies; and indicators for monitoring progress.


    —  DGXIV has to produce an Action Plan for the fisheries sector by February 2000 as its contribution to the development of the EC Biodiversity Strategy (ECBS). We consider that the Action Plan should require the same elaboration of strategies, timetables, indicators, and monitoring demanded (above) under the call for integration. In addition to the objectives specified by the ECBS for fisheries, we also call on the plan to prioritise the application of the Precautionary Approach, and the development of an Ecosystem Approach to fisheries management, not just in Community waters but also in third country waters (especially those of developing countries) to which EU vessels have access via fisheries agreements.

    —  As specified in the ECBS, "the Common Fisheries Policy has not yet achieved the objective of sustainable fishing". This conclusion implies two unaddressed priority needs.

      —  In Art 2 of the Council Reg 3760/92 setting down the provisions of the CFP there is no clear prioritisation of objectives but, judging from the outcomes of the CFP, the sustainability of the fishing industry emerges as the de facto priority, while concern for marine ecosystems has been subsidiary. Integration in the fisheries sector needs to establish, through the revised CFP, a regime which more fundamentally delivers environmental objectives.

      —  In the context of the CFP review and the related Agenda 2000 negotiations, the "Detailed Rules and Arrangements Regarding Community Structural Assistance in the Fisheries Sector", which have yet to be adopted, have a key role to play in furthering the integration process. In our view, the detailed regulations still fail to make explicit the commitment to a strategic shift towards sustainable development.

    —  Environmental integration in the fisheries sector with a strategic move towards sustainable development requires:

        a substantial shift in resources away from investment in increased capacity and towards traditional, smaller-scale vessels and gears;

      —  greater environmental provisions and safeguards to be applied to all fisheries structural measures, implying a broader set of indicators for sustainability.

    —  The Commission recently produced (July 1999) a Communication on Fisheries Management and Nature Conservation in the marine environment (a joint DGXI-DGXIV strategy paper). This identifies some priorities and implementing measures that should benefit from increased co-ordination and coherence between the two (fisheries/environment) policy areas, and that will be complementary to the conservation of fish stocks and other marine biodiversity. It is important for governments of member states to appreciate, however, that this Communication addresses only part of what is required by the integration process. While the Communication will assist the integration of environmental objectives into the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Commission also needs—if it is to fully take on board the aspiration of achieving sustainable development in all aspects of the CFP—to have kindred strategies on (notably) markets, structural funds and external policy.

    —  Fisheries as a sector for integration should be included in the forthcoming Sixth Environmental Action Programme.

4   DFID (1998) Working Parnership with the European Commiunity , Institutional Strategy Paper. Back

5   Press Release Nr 8435/99 of the European Community Development Council meeting in May 1999. Back

6   OECD (1996) Development Co-operation Review Series-European Community. Also in Environmental Resources Management (1996) Evaluation of the Environmental Performance of EC Programmes in Developing Countries (B7-5091/95), London. Back

7   Press Release Nr 8435/99. The Council considers that one important constraint on the Commission is the shortage of suitably qualified staff members, in particular in cross-cutting areas such as gender issues on environmental questions. Under item II(3) of Evaluation of EC Development Instruments and Programmes-ConclusionsBack

8   DFID (1998) Objective 2.4. Back

9   EEA (1996) Environment in the European Union at the Turn of the Century. Back

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