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Ecofin \"fails to tackle integration hot issues\"

Ecofin \ fails to tackle integration hot issues\
A report released this week by EU finance ministers on integrating environment and sustainable development within economic policies, as part of the so-called Cardiff process, has been branded as unambitious and ineffective. An EU source close to the process attacked the Ecofin council for shying away from the crucial issues its environmental integration strategy should be addressing, including establishing clear targets for the sector and defining the future role of ecotaxes (ED 13/08/01). Introduction of an EU-wide energy tax framework and the phase-out of environmentally harmful subsidies and tax exemptions were two of the three key recommendations made in Ecofin\'s first report on integration, dated November 2000. Both issues are all but ignored in its new report. EU discussions on a draft energy products taxation directive have trailed on and on without resolution. The main reason why even the aspiration of reaching agreement seems to have been dropped from Ecofin\'s new report is that current EU president Spain is the proposal\'s outstanding opponent (ED 06/06/01). Ecofin\'s decision to use its broad economic policy guidelines (BEPGs) as the key tool for setting targets and reviewing progress by member states on environmental integration was also criticised by the source as ineffective. Environmental considerations were for the first time included in BEPGs in 2001, but this is \"not satisfactory\", the source said. Stronger monitoring and review mechanisms are needed to \"translate [integration] strategies into reality\" and make the Cardiff process more efficient, the source said. Most of the sectoral strategies required under the process have now been finalised but some of them, including Ecofin\'s, are \"too weak\" to guarantee effectiveness. These remarks follow recent criticism by MEPs of the general level of progress made toward environmental policy integration (ED 01/03/02). Zdroj: ENDS
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