8 October 1992

Doc. 6708



on a European environmental charter

and its implementation mechanism

presented by Mr REHN and others

1.       Economic development can no longer be achieved by ignoring ecologically sustainable development. Consequently, economic and environmental policies must be clearly integrated in the future.

2.       Sustainable development does not mean zero economic growth. It represents growth within the bounds set by the need to maintain the environmental capital, which requires changing the signals given to economic decision-makers. Changing these signals means changing prices and using the market. This has been documented in Article 16 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, to which all European nations have subscribed:

"National authorities should endeavour to promote the internalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without distorting international trade and investment."

3.       Consequently, Europe should transfer its social market economies to ecological market economies as well. Accordingly, reaffirming the responsibility of the Council of Europe to facilitate the social progress and well-being of the European peoples, and taking into account the movement towards developing the Council of Europe into a European confederation covering a wider range of pan-European activities than is the case at the moment, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers work on the following objectives:

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i.       The Council of Europe and its member governments should establish a European environmental charter that would set tight standards for environmental protection and for ecologically sustainable development through economic incentives, taking into account the scientific and monitoring work done by the OECD and ECE, and the provisions of the EC and UNCED;

ii.       The Council of Europe should consider creating an implementation mechanism, both consultative and monitoring, in environmental protection, for instance by creating a European environmental commission, especially if the European Community is not able to establish its planned European Environmental Agency, or to find a suitable location for that agency in due course;

iii.       European governments should speed up their work to enforce energy and carbon dioxide taxation, in which the European Community has a central role, and work on similar measures on a worldwide scale;

iv.       The GATT mechanism should be made more effective in environmental policy in order to enforce internationally binding environmental regulations and avoid distortion of international trade and investment;

v.       Research and development on ecologically more sustainable technology and renewable energy should be encouraged by subsidies and grants. European technology policy, including such programmes as ESPRIT and Eureka, should be redirected according to these principles.

Signed:       Rehn, Johnston, Tarschys, Szent-Ivanyi, Lotz, Tiuri, Sarkijarvi, Dees, Ryynanen, Anttila, Hacklin, Feldmann, Loutfi, Panov, Marques, Gjørv, Bolinaga, Gonzalez Laxe, de Puig, Arnold, Espersen, J. Thompson, Hardy.