EU Plans To Dump The Environment

November 12, 2001

(Doha) The EU is bowing to pressure to weaken its already modest proposals on the environment in the WTO, according to latest sources. Friends of the Earth reacted by warning the EU that it should not use the environment as a bargaining chip in order to advance its objective to launch a new round of trade talks. The EU's compromise on the environment would help it to bring controversial new issues such as investment and competition into the WTO. It would also assist the EU to defend its farm subsidies.

The EU's proposal to launch negotiations on investment, competition, government procurement and trade facilitation is still opposed by various developing countries and LDCs in particular. So is the EU's position on agriculture. In order to make progress on these issues, the already very weak proposals from the EU to clarify the role of environmental questions in the WTO is poised to be sacrificed. In particular, vital EU proposals to clarify the role of eco-labels and the precautionary principle are vulnerable.

Friends of the Earth is appalled by the EU's weakening environmental position in order to press ahead with an investment treaty and to stick to its agricultural policy that harms farmers around the world. The EU has also rejected calls from civil society to undertake a complete and independent economic, social and ecological assessment of existing trade rules.

Commenting, Alexandra Wandel of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"Doing deals to allow investment negotiations, keep an unsustainable agricultural policy and weaken environmental protection and sustainable development will undermine public support for the WTO. The EU must withdraw its investment and competition agenda and promote environmental protection and sustainability as an overarching principle of trade policy instead."

"The European Union is trading away prospects for a more sustainable, equitable and democratic trading system for its objective of launching a new round. The environment must not be used as a pawn."

For further information contact:

Alexandra Wandel,
Mob: 9 172 748 3953

Tony Juniper
Ph: +44-7712 843 207