Brussels, 25 May 2005
The European Commission today adopted a draft Declaration on Guiding Principles for Sustainable Development and an accompanying Commission Communication which sets out the European Union’s long standing commitment to sustainable development as a key principle of all its policies and actions. This initiative is a response to a request from the European Council. In March this year, the European Council asked the Commission for a proposal that could be adopted by the June 2005 European Council, to serve as a basis for renewing the Sustainable Development Strategy adopted in Gothenburg in 2001.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "These principles set out our broad long term vision for Europe's future. Sustainable development aims to safeguard our environment, preserve social cohesion and promote economic prosperity. We see our future in a global context and pursue our efforts on sustainable development at home and internationally. This Declaration brings together our objectives and principles."
The Declaration defines sustainable development as aiming at "the continuous improvement of the quality of life on earth of both current and future generations, ensuring all people's enjoyment of their fundamental rights and freedoms". It lists the key objectives as a strong economy, social equity and cohesion, environmental protection, and meeting the EU's international responsibilities. A series of policy-guiding principles cover fundamental rights, equity within and between generations, openness, involvement of citizens, businesses and social partners, policy coherence between all levels, integrating economic, social and environmental considerations, using best available knowledge, taking a precautionary approach, and making polluters pay.
The Communication recalls the European Union’s firm commitment to sustainable development. "The Union aims to create a society which both combines a successful economy, a high level of employment and education, social cohesion and environmental protection and is based on freedom, democracy and respect for fundamental rights, fostering equality of opportunity and solidarity within and between generations." The guiding principles in the Declaration "correspond to the underlying values of a dynamic European model of society. They will underpin our ambitious agenda and help us to create a better quality of life for all, now and in the future", it says.
The Communication will be sent to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. The Commission will present a proposal for a new, more comprehensive and ambitious Sustainable Development Strategy later this year.