EU environmental policy
- The need for a European environmental policy
- European strategy for sustainable development
- Reduction of pollution and nuisances in the EU
- Management of EU's environmental resources
- Appraisal and outlook of EU's environmental policy
- Bibliography on EU's environmental policy
Up to the end of the 1960s no European country had a clearly defined environment policy. Student unrest in France and Germany in May 1968, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in June 1972, and the publication in the same period of the report by the Club of Rome on "the limits of growth" alerted European public opinion to the ecological problems of economic development and questioned the hierarchy of the values extolled by the consumer society.
The Governments of the Community States were obliged hastily to design measures against pollution and nuisances so as to open a safety valve to an ecological movement likely to swing the pendulum to the other extreme, to impose "zero growth", to block technological progress and with it, perhaps, economic and social progress. But all the Member States had to act together, as any country which took measures on its own against pollution or nuisances, or measures more stringent than its neighbours, would be likely to penalise its industry, which would have to bear the cost. Having done so, it would be forced to block the placing on its market of more pollutant, noisy or dangerous products from its more lax partners, which would bring the risk of technical barriers to trade [see section 6.2].
The Summit Conference of Heads of State and Government held in Paris in 1972 opened the way to the implementation of a common policy on environmental protection. The Commission went to work and prepared wide-ranging action programmes for the reduction of pollution and nuisances and for the management of environmental resources. In record time by Community standards the European Community provided itself with many concrete measures, a fact proving that, when there is pressure from public opinion, political will and the absence of deep-rooted national policies, the European institutions are capable of legislative work comparable to that of an individual State.