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EU Environmental policy: How it evolved and why it is important

Nigel Haigh, who is one of CHEM Trust’s trustees, has recently published a book examining the evolution of EU environmental policy – something he has been closely involved with since the 1970s. The book describes the creation of a fairly comprehensive system of environmental policy, which in many areas has a global impact. It includes a history of EU chemicals regulation, and of the precautionary principle in Europe.

Gwynne Lyons, Policy Director of CHEM Trust, said:EU Environmental Policy cover

“For those wanting to understand the regulatory frameworks and the machinations of the European Union, Nigel Haigh writes with real insight and experience.  The narrative of how chemicals policy has evolved and how the precautionary principle has been implemented is second to none.  Reading this book will get you as close as you can possibly get to actually being there and provides a lasting and expertly condensed overview of how and why EU legislation  has developed as it has.”

In a review on the Green Alliance web site, Julie Hill writes:

So, in the current climate of growing British Euroscepticism, when anyone mutters “what has the EU ever done for us”, Nigel Haigh reminds us that the list of advances is long. Without pan-European legislation we might still be swimming in our own sewage (Bathing Waters Directive); mixing toxic waste with domestic rubbish in open pits before sticking the lot in holes in the ground (Landfill Directive); pumping sulphurous pollution from our power stations to fall as acid rain in continental Europe (Large Combustion Plants Directive); and building over our few remaining truly natural areas (Habitats Directive).

We might not have a Thames now considered one of the most transformed rivers in the world (Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive); hunters might still be shooting our birds on their way back from migration (Birds Directive); and we might still be near the bottom of the European recycling league, in single figures rather than nearing 50 per cent, and with millions of tonnes of useful material remaining uncollected (Landfill, Packaging, End of Life Vehicles, Batteries and Waste Electronics Directives).

We might not be familiar with the C02 emissions of our cars, which have been driven steadily downwards, through mandatory emission reduction targets for new cars, (notwithstanding recent scandals); and we very likely would have no means of improving the energy efficiency of products on a Europe-wide basis (Ecodesign Directive)….

Reading this book it is hard not to share Nigel’s belief that if the EU didn’t exist we’d have to invent it, to align forces around a better way to live in Europe.  And we should all celebrate his tenacity, intellect and lifetime commitment to that cause.”

The book “EU Environmental Policy: Its Journey to Centre Stage” is published by, and available from, Earthscan, part of Routledge.