In parliament

3rd October 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • EU ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity


Erica Russell

Putting Europe's environment first

According to a recent survey, 95% of EU citizens say protecting the environment is important to them personally, and many believe more could be done.

Yet too often politicians neglect the environment in favour of the endless pursuit of economic growth, conveniently ignoring the fact that, unless our economies grow sustainably, they will inevitably collapse.

So when the new president of the European commission Jean-Claude Juncker initially failed to mention the environment in his list of priorities for the next five years, I was disappointed but not surprised.

Since then, I’ve been working with like-minded MEPs to secure a proper commitment from the commission towards green growth and leading the global shift to sustainability.

Fortunately, Juncker has now changed his tune and has described the sustainability of the environment and the preservation of natural resources as key policy objectives.

The earliest opportunity to hold the new commission to account will take place in the coming weeks when, as a member of the European parliament’s environment committee, I will be grilling Juncker’s proposed environment and fisheries commissioner, Karmenu Vella from Malta.

One thing I want to ask Vella is how he will ensure that the radical reforms of the EU’s common fisheries policy, spearheaded by Chris Davies, former MEP and columnist on the environmentalist, are properly implemented so that Europe makes the transition to sustainable fishing.

I also want to ask him what he will do to stop the illegal shooting of migratory birds in his own country. And, I’d like a clear answer on how he will ensure protecting the environment is mainstreamed into all EU policy areas and is not treated simply as an add-on.

That way, we can ensure that, in the coming years, the EU responds to the concerns of its citizens and puts the environment first.

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