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Sustainable Development


EU Sustainable Development Strategy

The EU Sustainable Development Strategy adopted at the June 2001 European Council in Gothenburg is aimed at initiating development that will enable the EU to achieve economic growth, greater social cohesion and a better environment.

The main focus is on climate change, public health, poverty and social exclusion, the ageing population, mobility and transport as well as management of natural resources. The Strategy was enlarged to include an international dimension in the run-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002. Moreover, a new approach to policy making was introduced involving, among other things, coherence, impact assessment, consideration of the global context, improved communication as well as mobilisation of citizens and companies.

Work began on reviewing the Strategy when the new Commission took office in 2004. Steps taken so far include the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, public consultation, the European Commission’s Communication on the future orientations for the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy of February 2005 as well as a Stakeholders’ Forum in Brussels in April 2005.

In March 2005, the European Council decided that the adapted Lisbon Strategy should be viewed in the broader context of sustainable development and that the new, more comprehensive and more ambitious Sustainable Development Strategy, should contain targets, indicators and an effective monitoring procedure, and should fully integrate the internal and external dimensions. In June 2005, the European Council adopted a declaration on the guiding principles for sustainable development, which are to form the basis for renewing and reviewing the strategy. The declaration affirms that the key objectives of the EU and its Member States are environmental protection, economic prosperity, social equity and cohesion, and meeting our international responsibilities. All EU policies are to be geared to the 10 guiding principles, such as involvement of citizens, involvement of business and social partners, political coherence and the precautionary principle.

Austria’s activities during the Presidency of the Council of the EU

Sustainable development is a major theme of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2006.

The European Commission has already stated that its proposal for a revised strategy in December 2005 will again reveal non-sustainable trends and will, above all, focus on policy-making. In addition to the the six non-sustainable trends already identified, new worrying trends that have arisen since 2001, in the area of security for instance, will be highlighted. Education, research and development will also be main themes. Sustainable development will also be a topic in the area of innovation and structural change, giving rise to new growth and employment opportunities. The decoupling of economic growth and environmental pollution through changes in production and consumer behaviour, as well as reinforced energy efficiency, remain a priority. Targeted actions and clearer, realistic goals and milestones will be included. In addition to the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, a mechanism for best practice exchanges and a system of voluntary peer reviews of the national sustainable development strategies will be proposed.

Against this background, Austria will seek to conclude the review of the Sustainable Development Strategy at the European Council in June 2006. To this end, once the European Commission has submitted its draft proposal, consultations in all the Council configurations concerned are planned in order to prepare the European Council. The European Parliament will also be included in the process.

 

Date: 20.12.2005