As European leaders gather to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Rome it is time to take stock of the success of the EU and build a shared vision for its future.
Environmental protection has been a clear success of the EU as it has put in place laws to clean up our rivers, save lives from air pollution and bring iconic wildlife back from the brink of extinction.
Concern for our shared environment has gone hand in hand with the solidarity at the heart of the European Union.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is warning leaders to keep the environment a central pillar of the EU, not least as a way to fight anti-democratic movements within the bloc.
The EEB is the largest coalition of grassroots environmental NGOs in Europe with over 150 member organisations.
EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said:
“It is barely 18 months since European leaders joined with other countries around the world to sign up to the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but this is little reflected in the Commission’s recent White Paper setting out future scenarios for the EU. Sustainable development, with respect for the environment at its heart, must now become the overarching priority for the European Union.”
“The recent Dutch elections tell a hopeful story. Pro-European and pro-environmental attitudes were important factors in the pushback against unredeemed nationalism. We know that the majority of the public support more, not less, EU action on the environment. Strong environmental protection policies at European level can serve as an antidote to the anti-democratic forces which threaten the EU.”
“Solving the environmental crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. It is clear that member states, working together on environmental issues, are more effective than when working alone. Problems like climate change and pollution do not respect borders. Solving them effectively can only work if the EU’s member states start taking their responsibility for this more seriously.”