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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/87

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on ‘Integrating environment and sustainable
development into economic and development cooperation policy’

(2001/C 14/18)

On 18 May 2000 the European Commission decided to consult the Economic and Social Committee,
under Article 262 of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, on ‘Integrating
environment and sustainable development into economic and development cooperation policy’.

The Section for External Relations, which was responsible for preparing the Committee’s work on the
subject, adopted its opinion on 10 October 2000. The rapporteur was Mr Ribbe and the co-rapporteur
Mr Gafo Fernández.

At its 376th plenary session of 19 October 2000 the Economic and Social Committee adopted the
following opinion with 83 votes in favour and 6 abstentions.

1. Introduction mittee regrets that, as a representative of civil society organis-
ations, it has hitherto been only partially included in the
1.1. Fostering sustainable development is a central objective Commission’s deliberations. It would ask the Commission,
of the Community’s development cooperation policy under Council and Parliament to bear in mind that the Committee
Article 177 of the Amsterdam Treaty. can only contribute meaningfully to the evolution of this
important portfolio if it is involved in the whole process of
framing development policy and not merely consulted on
1.2. At its summit in Cardiff in June 1998 the European isolated issues and documents. The Commission is asked to
Council stressed the importance of integrating environmental inform the Committee how it sees the ESC’s future involvement
protection and sustainable development into all EU policies in framing economic and development cooperation policy.
and invited the Commission and specialist councils to draw up
appropriate strategies.

1.3. The Commission’s communication ‘Integrating
environment and sustainable development into economic and 2.3. The Committee views current global developments
development cooperation policy — Elements of a comprehen- with concern. It notes that the promises given by the industrial
sive strategy’ (1) should be seen in the context of this integration nations as far back as the UN General Assembly of 24 October
strategy. 1970 and reaffirmed later — namely to invest at least 0,7 % of
their GNP in development aid — have not been kept by most
1.4. The Committee notes the discussions in the Develop- countries and that currently only 0,23 % is given on average.
ment Councils of 11.11.1999 and 18.5.2000 and the Com-
mission Communication to the Council and the European
Parliament ‘The European Community’s development
policy’ (2).
2.4. The gap between rich and poor grows ever wider.
The vicious circle in which many developing countries find
2. General comments themselves — and which is inadequately described by such
catchwords as economic underdevelopment, poverty, low level
2.1. The Committee welcomes the presentation of this of education, population growth and lack of environmental
paper by the Commission. Not only does it show that the protection — has been known for a long time and is also
Commission is endeavouring to implement the edicts of the recognised by the developed world. So far it has not been
Amsterdam Treaty and the Cardiff Summit, but it also makes possible to break the circle, in part because the political will is
clear that this is an extremely important subject on which not there.
much work remains to be done.

2.2. The Commission quite rightly states several times in
this communication and in its general paper on development
policy (2) that civil society has a fundamental role to play in 2.5. The environmental situation naturally varies consider-
tackling the outstanding tasks. In this connection the Com- ably from one developing country/region to another; it is not
therefore possible to generalise. But it has to be said that in
many cases the situation is desperate: many people lack clean
(1) COM(2000) 264 final. drinking water; the lack of waste water treatment (and hence
(2) COM(2000) 212 final of 26.4.2000. frequently sanitary conditions) is catastrophic; proper waste
C 14/88 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

management is largely non-existent; air pollution is often 3. Specific comments
acute, and not only in large cities. In many cases natural
resources are being over-exploited, sometimes to satisfy dom-
estic demand, sometimes external demand.
3.1. Inadequate strategic approach in the paper

2.5.1. Further examples of the problematic environmental
situation are overgrazing and the overfarming of marginal 3.1.1. It should be noted that in its communication the
land, resulting in declining fertility and yields. Another example Commission puts forward relatively non-committal proposals
is the deforestation of large areas. The environmental conse- in those areas it addresses. In the Committee’s view this
quences can also be very varied. They range from climate communication does not give any clear indication as to:
change to increased desertification or major flooding. Hence it
can have global as well as regional/local consequences. In
other words: most developing countries are far from having — where precisely the Commission sees the root causes of
a healthy environment and ‘sustainable development’. This the problems now;
situation affects not only the developing countries, but also
impacts on the developed countries, so that the Commission’s
initiative is particularly important and even a matter of — what have hitherto been the main shortcomings in
conscious self-interest. cooperation between the EU and the developing

— how they can be combated really effectively.
2.6. It has to be realised that it is not the developing
countries but the industrialised nations which are mainly
responsible for many of the world’s environmental problems. 3.1.2. The Commission document concentrates on the
The fact is that about 20 % of the earth’s population consumes environment. There are no ideas whatsoever on integrating
about 80 % of its resources, and that this consumption is sustainable development within the framework of develop-
covered in part by stripping or overexploiting renewable and ment policy. Hence the Committee cannot agree that the
non-renewable resources in the developing countries. communication addresses all the ‘elements of a comprehensive
strategy’, as suggested by the document’s sub-title.

2.6.1. The 20 % of the population which consumes 80 %
of raw materials lives mainly in the industrial countries. Thus 3.1.3. One topic of crucial importance to sustainable
it is above all the production, consumption and behaviour development in the developing countries is, for instance,
patterns of the industrial nations which are responsible for the population growth. This is ignored completely in the Com-
depletion of resources, for climate change and for the dramatic mission document. The Committee recommends that the
dwindling of biodiversity and hence genetic variety. Passing document be vetted once again for such shortcomings and the
on these habits to the developing countries would hugely strategic considerations supplemented accordingly.
exacerbate the already highly sensitive environmental situation
3.1.4. This means looking for answers to the following
2.6.2. Nevertheless, the industrialised nations can make
an important contribution to solving the problems in the
developing countries by transferring know-how for the devel- — Are the current phenomena of a rural exodus and the
opment of appropriate environmental technologies. growth of mega-cities of 10, 20 or even 30 million
people sustainable in the long term?

— Is it not partially inconsistent to promote — quite
2.7. The Committee would point out that integrating sensibly — the education and training of people in the
environment and sustainable development into the EU’s devel- economically underdeveloped countries while at the same
opment policy must not mean transferring the European way time deliberately wooing skilled workers away from these
of life to the developing countries. In the evaluation of its own countries by means of special government initiatives (e.g.
Fifth Environmental Action Programme (1) the Commission immigration schemes), thus hugely damaging the growth
itself states that we are far from ensuring sustainable develop- and competitiveness of enterprises in these countries
ment in Europe. (brain drain)?

— Why does the Commission document not envisage the
promotion of mechanisms for an increased transfer of
technology beyond those already contained in the Kyoto
(1) COM(1999) 543 final, 24.11.1999. Protocol?
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/89

3.1.5. The Commission itself states that ‘As yet the coher- 3.2.2. In many cases the developing countries suffer from
ence of EU and EC policy and the impact on developing major shortcomings in environmental management and in
countries have not been systematically analysed’. This self- environmental law and its implementation. The Committee
criticism is to be welcomed. In the Committee’s view the paper therefore thinks that they should receive increased assistance
gives no firm indication of when such an undoubtedly very in these areas, especially in devising appropriate courses and
necessary analysis will be carried out and presented. curricula in universities.

3.1.6. Further discussion of this issue by the Commission, 3.2.3. In its relations with the ACP states, the Commission
Council and Parliament, in which the ESC would like to has at its disposal a solid framework for dialogue on develop-
participate (see point 2.2), would therefore be aided by a clear ment strategies; this represents an ideal integration instrument,
analysis of the failings of global development policy to date. especially as the economic and social actors have to be
The Committee would point out that in particular the United included in the dialogue, as called for by the ESC.
Nation’s environment programme (UNEP) has already carried
out important work in this respect which should be systemati-
cally evaluated and integrated into the strategy.
3.2.4. As long as too little account is taken in the developing
countries of the demands of a modern environmental policy,
it is in Europe’s, and the world’s, general interest (‘global
3.1.7. The discussion would be clearer and more compre- governance’) that the European Commission and governments
hensible to the general public, which must be made urgently of the individual Member States accord environmental factors
aware of these issues, if certain developments identified as their rightful place in bilateral discussions and negotiations.
environmentally unfriendly, i.e. not sustainable, were described To fall back on the position that environmental protection
more precisely; in particular the extent to which public bodies must be ‘demand-oriented’ is not acceptable.
and enterprises in the developing countries are contributing to
this should be clarified.
3.2.5. Therefore it is also important to convince all Com-
mission officials responsible for development policy of the
importance of environmental protection and sustainable devel-
opment. The integration of the environment starts here.
3.2. Bases for more environmental protection

3.2.6. In this connection the Committee would also like to
3.2.1. The Commission document repeatedly stresses how comment on the staffing of the Commission departments
important it is to ‘promote enabling activities for and increase responsible for development issues. The figures quoted in
environment management capacity of both public and private footnote 22 of the communication (according to which each
sector’. The Committee agrees entirely; but promoting environ- staff member is responsible for checking on the environmental
mental awareness and training is mentioned only once. impact of EUR 1 300 million of investment in the ACP states)
provide plenty of food for thought. Under such circumstances
it must be impossible to carry out the necessary checks
properly. The Commission should explain how the certain
The Committee would stress that environmental protection increase in the number of tasks can be adequately managed in
does not work if simply decreed from above. It will only be the light of the planned restructuring of both the RELEX and
successful if society is behind it, if people understand why DEV DGs and the Common Service for External Relations.
measures have been taken and accept them, maybe even call
for more to be done.

3.2.7. One possibility for raising efficiency would be better
In future even more attention should be paid to fully involving coordination and use of existing resources, on the part of both
the general public and civil society organisations in framing, the Commission and the Member States and relevant private
implementing and evaluating development strategies, and public organisations.
especially in the area of environmental policy and sustainable
development. A prerequisite for the real participation of civil
society is prior access to appropriate information, for instance
on planned projects and environmental impact assessments,
in accordance with the Aarhus Convention signed by the 3.3. Impact of trade
European Community. Secondly, extra support for small and
micro environmental protection projects is an important
starting-point for the direct involvement of the local popu-
lation. Unfortunately the Commission communication sup- 3.3.1. The Commission communication discusses the prob-
plies insufficient information on both points. lem of trade, but not in the necessary depth.
C 14/90 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16.1.2001

3.3.2. Trade relations between EU Member States and developing countries long after being banned in the EU
developing countries are at the root of some problems that on environmental or health grounds, although they are
currently severely hamper sustainable development in both manufactured here. Furthermore, in many developing
the developing and developed countries or make it impossible. countries persistent toxic chemicals, e.g. DDT (1) to combat
One example: feedingstuffs imports. European agriculture malaria, are used which are an increasing global threat to the
imports large quantities of feedingstuffs (and other agricultural environment on account of their volatility and longevity.
raw materials), some of it from developing countries. Within
the EU this leads in some cases to a concentration of
intensive livestock rearing in coastal regions. In terms of the
competitiveness of farms this is understandable, but at the
same time it is an environmental problem and a problem for 3.3.6. Such known trade-related shortcomings mean that
the development of sustainable agriculture in the EU. The the Commission’s statement that ‘Trade and environment need
cultivation of raw materials for feedingstuffs in the developing to play a mutually supporting role’ (1st paragraph of point 4.2
countries also causes various social and environmental prob- of the Commission document) must at present be seen as
lems in those countries; for instance, small farmers are driven more wish than reality. In particular the Commission and the
from their land, land is deforested, delicate soil is overcropped, Member States must see that the environmental dimension is
environmental requirements are flouted in the processing of incorporated into the WTO’s terms of reference.
raw materials (e.g. fishmeal factories). The future environmen-
tal consequences of the use of and world trade in genetically
modified varieties are a complete unknown. In a paper
setting out ‘the elements of a comprehensive strategy’, the
Commission should look in greater depth at such cases and
propose solutions. 3.4. Investing in environmental protection

3.4.1. In view of the patent underinvestment in environ-
mental protection in the developing countries, thought must
3.3.3. The Commission document frequently mentions the be given to raising the proportion of environmental investment
particular importance of international companies in building in total Community development aid (according to the Com-
up environmental protection and sustainable development. mission it is currently only 8,5 %). At the same time the
This is undoubtedly correct as these companies can effect a Committee would point out that for sustainable development
massive transfer of know-how and, with their management it is equally important to ensure that the other, much more
experience and use of modern environmental technologies, substantial, funds allocated for the European development
introduce ‘clean’ economic processes. This is the positive side policy priorities proposed in April 2000 — e.g. combating
of development and must be supported wholeheartedly. poverty, trade promotion, structural adjustment programmes,
health, education, promoting the private sector and productive
sectors — take environmental aspects into consideration.

3.3.4. On the other hand, the Committee feels it must point 3.4.2. In the eyes of the industrialised countries, some
out that unfortunately there are other trends which work in environmental problems in the developing world are often
the opposite direction: companies operating on a global scale rooted in relatively banal problems. One of the reasons for
which adhere fully to high environmental standards of their increasing desertification is the clearance of trees, e.g. for
host countries in the developed world, but in some cases cooking purposes. Decisive improvements could be made with
systematically exploit the lower social, labour and environmen- appropriate modern environmental technology (e.g. solar
tal standards of the developing countries and thus prevent cookers). At the same time training programmes could be
sustainable development. As this factor is not to be underesti- started to enable people in these countries to manufacture
mated, the Commission should launch a debate with European such equipment themselves. It would be the wrong approach
and international institutions as to how this can be stopped, to see the developing countries only as buyers of such
e.g. by drawing up a code of conduct. It is also vital for the equipment manufactured in the industrialised world. The
Community and the Member States to give active support to Committee would welcome an indication from the Com-
the international campaign for the ratification of ILO basic mission as to whether building up the manufacture and
conventions and to bring investments, official loans and application of appropriate technology in these countries
certain programmes into line with their provisions. through bottom-up projects is an approach which should be
used much more for solving many local problems.

3.3.5. It is unacceptable that many products which are (1) Approx. 30 % of the DDT used in the developing countries comes
harmful to the environment and human health are still used in back to the developed countries through the atmosphere.
16.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 14/91

3.4.3. Such appropriate projects can show very clearly that 3.4.4. Finally, it is not clear how the Commission arrives at
environmental protection is not a luxury that only rich the view that ‘Privatisation of environmental services, such as
societies can afford, but a sine qua non for ensuring global waste management, sanitation and wastewater treatment,
environmental and economic stability. could also improve economic and environmental efficiency’.

Brussels, 19 October 2000.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Strengthening of the law governing
concessions and public/private partnership (PPP) contracts’

(2001/C 14/19)

On 2 March 2000 the Economic and Social Committee, acting under the third paragraph of Rule 23 of
its Rules of Procedure, decided to draw up an opinion on ‘Strengthening of the law governing concessions
and public/private partnership (PPP) contracts’.

The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing
the Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 1 September 2000. The rapporteur was
Mr Levaux.

At its 376th plenary session of 19 October 2000 the Committee adopted the following opinion by
72 votes to 2 with 7 abstentions.

1. Introduction — The Commission Interpretative Communication on con-
cessions under Community law (2) published after the
January 1997 Green Paper on public contracts, and the
1.1. At its meeting on 14 December 1999, the Section for March 1998 note for guidance, make a number of
the Single Market, Production and Consumption decided to points which raise several fundamental questions. The
apply to the Bureau for authorisation to draw up an own- Commission has recognised the variety of contractual
initiative opinion on Strengthening the law governing con- relationships falling within the ambit of PPP and has
cessions and public-private partnership (PPP) contracts as tools focused its analysis on concessions alone.
to revive growth in Europe for the benefit of EU citizens and
to aid market integration. Community public-purchasing law
does not cover all PPP contracts. Directive 93/37/EEC (1) 1.2. The Committee intends to focus its deliberations on
provides a definition and framework for the award of public two main groups of questions.
works contracts, but not a general framework for public-
private partnership contracts. The Commission acknowledges
this need in a number of ways:
1.2.1. E c o n o m i c , s o c i a l a n d s t r a t e g i c q u e s -
— The high-level group set up by Mr Kinnock proposed
recommendations which were fully adopted by the
Commission, but have remained a dead letter as far as — Should there be a harmonised framework for such
European legislation or the legal situation in several contracts, bearing in mind the slow development of the
countries is concerned. trans-European networks (TENs), which were to have
been created with the aid of these contracts?

(1) OJ L 199, 9.8.1993. (2) OJ C 121, 29.4.2000.