The Austrian EU Presidency will be judged on climate action, the response to the ongoing biodiversity crisis and agricultural policy reforms, among other burning issues, according to environmental groups.
With environmental issues conspicuously absent from the agenda at this week’s European Council meeting, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) today published ’10 Green Tests’ for the incoming Austrian Presidency, setting out in detail the areas of environmental policy where progress must be made in the next six months.
The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with 140 members in more than 30 countries. The 10 Green Tests was prepared in cooperation with Birdlife Europe and Seas At Risk.
With the COP24 climate meeting to be held in Poland in November, driving ambitious EU climate commitments to meet the 1.5 degree target is the first test in a list that includes ensuring a planet-friendly EU budget, protecting people from toxic air pollution and chemicals, and helping Europe move to an innovative, resource efficient, circular economy.
Commenting on the publication of the document, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said:
“Austrian leadership and engagement on these issues will be invaluable to promote progress for a sustainable Europe, a Europe where citizens and companies can be confident in the respect for the rule of law, and where the law protects citizens – for example, from poor air quality in cities, from climate change, and from hazardous chemicals in products. Engagement in these areas will also ensure that the European Project delivers for citizens and helps support the objective of a Europe that protects.”
As Austria chairs crucial meetings of ministers and helps set the agenda until the end of the year, green groups want to see citizens guaranteed access to sufficient clean water, with steps taken to halt the loss of biodiversity by protecting land and seas.
With recent limited progress to move the EU towards compliance with the milestone Aarhus Convention on access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice, campaigners argue that the Austrian government must increase pressure on the European Commission to ensure a revision of the Aarhus Regulation.
Finally, the Ten Green Tests document calls on the incoming presidency to ensure that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are put at the centre of discussions about the future of Europe.