'Polluter Pays' Principle May Become EU Law
EU to make polluters pay for environmental damage
Will the "Polluter Pays Principle" become law in Europe? The EU is receiving public comments on this exciting plan until July 1. Here are a few excerpts from a recent Reuters report on the subject.
The European Commission has endorsed plans to force firms and individuals who pollute the environment to be legally liable for the cost of the damage they have caused.
"We have now laid the foundations for an environmental liability regime for Europe. Polluters will effectively be held responsible for environmental damage they cause," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said in a statement.
The plan is aimed at reducing the frequency of environmental accidents such as the recent oil spill in France, the Commission said. However, environmental groups were disappointed the document was not more ambitious, blasting it as "completely toothless and vague".
Although individual EU countries have liability regimes which cover damage to people and goods and contaminated sites, the issue of damage to nature has been avoided, the Commission said.
The proposals are designed to sweep away the notion that society as a whole must bear the cost of man-made environmental disasters and would force polluters to pay "for the effective restoration of the damage".
Public interest groups would be legally authorised "to step into the shoes" of public authorities which refused to enforce the directive. It would not be retroactive.
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