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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Environment and Internal Market

The EU's sustainable development strategy applies to all fields of policy, including the internal market. The key factor when it comes to integrating environmental concerns into the EU's internal market policy is the need to find a balanced approach between the free movement of goods and environmental protection. The increasing openness of the market is sometimes perceived as a threat to the quality of Europe's environment. By the same token, environmental standards are often seen as barriers to market access. Finding a way to integrate these two policy areas is the main challenge facing Europe's policy-makers.

The EU's internal market integration strategy, adopted in 2001, sets out a series of objectives, actions and indicators, and was the first step towards this goal. The strategy is implemented through existing EU legislation in areas such as standardisation, public procurement, eco-labelling, taxation, environmental agreements, state aid, and industry and product policy.

Other important initiatives include a review of the Community framework for state aid for environmental protection and the European Commission's Interpretative Communication on public procurement and the environment. This examines and clarifies the possibilities offered by existing rules for improving environmental protection in public procurement. The Commission is currently preparing a handbook on how to 'green' public procurement.

A general review of the EU's integration strategy is currently underway. The Commission is also working on a Recommendation on the greening of financial information.

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