• Environment policy does ‘not kill off jobs’

    A strong EU environmental policy is “not a job killer” and promotes wide-ranging social and economic benefits.

    That is the conclusion of a Commission study published last month into the social and economic impact of environmental measures. It updates a Commission report from 1997, largely following pressure to downgrade environmental policy over fears that it could affect the competitiveness of European industry.

    The study dismisses the argument that a strong environmental policy is the enemy of competitiveness. It says:

    • the impact on employment is either neutral or slightly positive, suggesting environmental policy does not contribute to overall unemployment;

    • there is a “clear positive link” between environmental policy and quality of jobs;

    • “eco-industries” are clear beneficiaries of environmental policy, with stricter standards offering incentives for innovation;

    • environmental policy promotes social inclusion, as Europe’s poorest communities suffer the worst pollution so action to reduce it will benefit these areas most.

    The only area where the study is sceptical is over the potential of environmentally motivated taxes to offer a “double dividend” of reducing harmful practices and generating income for employment-boosting purposes. But even here it merely cites a lack of “robust examples” of this happening, which may reflect the fact that there are still relatively few examples of “green” taxation.

    Among its recommendations, it says environmental technologies should be promoted alongside substantial investment in learning and training, and EU policy should support a move from “end-of-pipe” solutions to integrated technologies.

    This news story is taken from the March 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.