European Parliament backs ?polluter pays? law

| May 2003

The European Parliament in Strasbourg has passed an initial draft of an EU-wide law that would force polluters to pay for their environmental damage, reports the BBC?s William Horsley.

While similar in principle to the American Superfund law, the European proposal goes much further, requiring companies that deal in hazardous materials ?to take out full insurance cover, or give guarantees that they can pay for the cost of environmental clean-ups,? Horsley writes.

Environmentalists praised the action, which passed the full parliament after MEPs (Members of European Parliament) rejected industry attempts to weaken the measure with exemptions for businesses operating under official permits or with the best available technology.

The measure, known as the ?Environmental Liability Directive,? must now go through several more procedural steps before it becomes law. But its early passage is seen as a signal that MEPs take Europeans? growing concern over environmental issues seriously. Public sentiment for stronger regulations has been spurred in recent years by major chemical spills in Spain, Hungary and Romania, and oil spills off the French and Spanish coasts.

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