Will the Paris climate agreement sway Britain’s EU debate?by Stanley Johnson / December 20, 2015 / Leave a comment
EU Environmental Policy: Its Journey to Centre Stage by Nigel Haigh, Earthscan, Routledge, £29.99
The UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC), as it then was, on 1st January 1973. Meeting in Paris a few weeks earlier, on the initiative of France’s President Georges Pompidou, the leaders of the six founding members of the EEC (Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) joined the leaders of the accession countries (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom) in a historic summit.
The origins of the EU’s environmental policy are to be found in the official conclusions of that 1972 Paris meeting. “The Heads of State or Government emphasised the importance of a Community environment policy. To this end they invited the Community institutions to establish, before 31st July 1974, a programme of action accompanied by a precise timetable.”
In April 1973, as part of the advance guard of what would become a considerable wave of British subjects joining the European institutions, I arrived in Brussels to take up a position which was quaintly described in the European Commission’s organisation chart as Head of the Prevention of Pollution and Nuisances Division.
I found that under the leadership of a dynamic Frenchman, Michel Carpentier, the Commission had already prepared the draft programme and timetable, which the Paris summit had called for. My first months “en poste” were spent, among other things, accompanying Carpentier to the meeting of the Council’s Environment Working Group where the draft programme was being scrutinised by delegates from the member states which by then included also the UK representatives.
That first environmental programme, as finally adopted by the Council in November 1973, was an ambitious document. It not only prescribed a role for the Community in the fight against pollution: air, water, waste, chemicals, and noise; it had a section on nature protection and the management of natural resources, as well as a coda proposing an enhanced role for the Community as far as international environmental actions, such as global treaties and agreements, were concerned.
Paris climate deal: what you…