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Do EU laws protect the environment or stifle the economy?

Nov 22, 2012

Further information
Vicki Elcoate

Europe has extensive laws in place to protect the environment, but substantial environmental pressures remain, Karl Falkenberg, the Director General of the European Environment Department will say at a keynote lecture in London on November 29th.

At the lecture organised by the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA)[i] he will assess the expected global challenges for the next four years: climate change; resource efficiency; biodiversity loss; pressure on natural resources like fresh water and oceans.

The Coalition Government has come into conflict with the EU over what it calls “red tape” around issues of environmental protection, which some of its leading figures have said stifles economic growth. It may also be an issue in any referendum on UK membership of the EU.

Mr Falkenberg, who has a background in trade negotiations, will reiterate that better EU regulation not only protects the environment but also stimulates the growth of green industries and the greening of traditional industries. The main problems he sees are in the adequacy of legislation and in monitoring its effectiveness. These are issues highlighted by UKELA in its report on “The state of Environmental Law 2011-2012 – is there a case for legislative reform?” which shines a light on the quality of environmental legislation and what might be done to improve it[ii].

He will call for better communication of opportunities to build a green economy, implementing the goals set at the Rio plus 20 international conference in Brazil earlier this year[iii].

[i] The lecture is held annually to commemorate environmental lawyer Professor Jack Garner. It is being held at Clifford Chance, Canary Wharf, London starting at 6pm. Journalists are welcome to attend, RSVP to Vicki.elcoate@ntlworld.com

[ii] The full report can be found here

[iii] The main action points from Rio plus 20 can be found here

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