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Environmental integration in external relations
The European strategy on environmental integration in external relations defines a coherent framework of principles to improve environmental protection at international level. These principles concern the political dialogue with third countries, cross-cutting issues, trade policy and international governance.
Council strategy of 11 March 2002 at the European Council in Barcelona on environmental integration in the external policies of the General Affairs Council.
This strategy drawn up by the Council defines the objectives of action by the European Union (EU) and the Member States to ensure that environmental questions are taken into account when EU external policies are drawn up and implemented.
Its purpose is not to redefine or restate the core objectives of EU international environment policy, but to identify ways of pursuing these objectives in the conduct of external relations.
Environmental questions should be tackled in regular dialogues with third countries so as to establish a common approach to the environmental priorities to be set. With industrialised countries, the issues considered should be those which are the subject of international conventions or protocols or which have been discussed in multilateral fora. With developing countries, environmental concerns should be included in cooperation instruments and programmes.
In cross-cutting areas, the key objectives are as follows:
- to support improvements in human rights, democratisation and governance, thus contributing also to environmental ends;
- to ensure that environmental factors are fully addressed in conflict prevention activities, working to reduce tensions over access to and use of natural resources;
- to promote the environmental dimension in all areas of post-conflict reconstruction.
Trade negotiations and relations must also take account of environmental concerns and the relationships between the international trading system and environmental agreements must be clarified. Corporate social responsibility should be encouraged at international level, as well as technical assistance, transfers of clean technology and the carrying out of impact assessments.
The international institutional framework should be improved, in particular by systematically integrating environmental considerations into the international institutions' activities. Moreover, there should be greater cohesion between bilateral and multilateral discussions and between the various international organisations.
The development of this strategy was requested by the European Council in Göteborg (June 2001). The European Council in Cardiff (June 1998) established the bases for coordinated action at Community level to integrate environmental considerations in EU policies.