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  • Gothenburg Speech

    It was sad to note that it was the story of the rioting and the obscenely heavy handed response of the police that were the stories that hit the headlines from this Summit - not the discussions at the summit itself and certainly not the thousands whom I joined who gathered to peacefully protest.

    The other event which overshadowed this Summit was the Irish referendum of the previous week the results of which was also about citizens peacefully registering their protest at the way the EU is developing. This referendum was not a rejection of the enlargement process but a manifestation of people's disillusionment with the direction the EU is taking. It again highlights the need for genuine reform of the EU to bring the citizen into the democratic process.

    Sustainable Development is about people. It does not just mean environmental conservation but the long-term health of our whole environment. Putting this into practice has huge implications. We cannot continue to plunder and exhaust natural resources and then look to science and technology to try and overcome the problems we have created. A completely new approach is needed.

    Since the Cardiff European Summit in 1998, Cardiff is becoming a synonym for sustainable development on the European level. The summit adopted what is now officially called the Cardiff process. This is a means of integrating environmental considerations into all areas of European Union policy as the first step towards sustainable development. To do this a clear strategy has to be adopted and concrete targets set. We have been calling in the European Parliament for the Cardiff process to continue as a central part of a new strategy to achieve sustainable development and we hoped that it would be the major achievement of this summit. But we were wrong. After criticising President Bush on the environment, the European Union leaders ducked the greatest issue facing the world today and refused to endorse a detailed sustainable development strategy.

    We are preparing for the Rio+10 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The emphasis in that summit will be on poverty alleviation and sustainable patterns of production and consumption. We hoped and believed that the Gothenburg summit would make a major contribution to that. We were wrong.

    Jill Evans ASE/MEP

    Photo: Jill Evans