Chapter Three: Policy Responses
Europe and Central Asia
The policy background
MEAs and non-binding agreements
Laws and institutions
Industry and new technologies
Financing environmental action
Latin America and the Caribbean
| KEY FACTS|
There is a danger that unsustainable lifestyle patterns in Western Europe will be adopted by countries in transition too indiscriminately. The accession countries need to find an acceptable balance between adapting to Western European policy and maintaining existing practices where these are environmentally beneficial.
The overall level of ratification of global MEAs is relatively high, and reasonably balanced among sub-regions.
Comprehensive National Environment Action Plans (NEAPs) have helped in the elaboration of new policy principles and the redesign of institutions. Sixteen transition countries have developed or are developing NEAPs.
One of the main barriers to accession to the European Union is lack of financial resources - the cost of conforming to environmental regulations is estimated at ECU* 100 000-150 000 million for the 11 accession countries.
In Hungary and Latvia, product charges are being imposed on manufacturers of goods, such as packaging or batteries, which can be recycled or alternately disposed of, encouraging private investment.
Increasing VAT on resource and energy use is frequently recommended as an instrument with positive effects on both cleaner production and employment.
In Western Europe, the European Commission estimates that during 1994-99 more than ECU 17 000 million was spent on environmental measures.
Although subsidies are declining, they continue to have adverse impacts on the environment, especially in the energy, transport and agricultural sectors.
The ECU was the forerunner of the European Euro, worth approximately US$1 in mid-1999.