The UK has continually dragged its feet on implementing EU environmental and employment legislation. It is normally implemented in a ‘watered down’ form, employing the cheapest techniques instead of ‘Best Available Technology’. Also, it is reliant on self-regulation (like the banks and look where that got us) and an arms length regulators who only act after a major incident. As long as a process can not be directly identified as being a problem, it is allowed to continue, as opposed to taking a precautionary approach. The UK is still the Dirty Man of Europe.

Inside track

Porthcurno beach and turquoise sea, Cornwall UK.This is a guest post by Caroline Jackson, former MEP and chairman of the European Parliament environment committee from 1999-2004.

“We need to examine whether the balance is right in so many areas where the European Union has legislated, including on the environment, social affairs and crime”

Thus said David Cameron in his recent “key speech” on Europe – and he sent an immediate shudder through the ranks of British environmentalists. What did he mean? Which bits of EU environmental policy is Britain going to raise in Brussels (when Owen Paterson has stopped worrying about horse/beef burgers)? What are the chances of getting anything changed anyway in existing legislation which it has been a pain to negotiate? Given that reform is needed in the EU approach to legislation (as I believe it is) is he going for the right targets?

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