Green 9 – The EU’s new Constitution: Assessing the Environmental Perspective

English countryside (picture Freefoto.com)

November 2004

Retain environmental and sustainable development objectives and the integration principle. This demand refers mainly to the objectives of environmental protection and sustainable development (I-3) and to the integration principle (III-4). The statement of the objectives is, if anything, somewhat stronger than in the existing Treaty. The integration principle has been moved but the move is logical, placing the principle prominently at the beginning of the section concerning competences and policies. The move is unlikely to reduce the strength of the principle. In fact, the principle now applies to all EU policies, including those previously covered by the second and third pillars of the Treaty.

Participatory democracy and transparency The new Constitution introduces the principle of participatory democracy into the EU’s primary legal text. Despite the general terms in which it is stated, the principle forms a solid basis for the right to be heard and the right to information.

Co-decision powers of the European Parliament. Parliament’s co-decision powers have been extended in a number of areas (CAP/CFP generally, research, trade), although many of these are not directly related to environmental policy. Significant is Parliament’s increased control over the entire EU budget, including agricultural spending.

Conclusion Some steps forward have been taken in the area of legal rights, participatory democracy, transparency and the powers of Parliament, all of which can have benefits for environmental protection and sustainable development.

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