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Austerity and EU environmental policy 

Since 2010, European responses to the global financial and economic crises have been dominated by a narrative of austerity. European governments have sought to bolster confidence in their economies by rolling back public spending. This narrative of austerity has been the backdrop to the European Union’s (EU) environmental policy-making. The extent to which austerity is necessarily a barrier to ambitious environmental legislation is a crucial co...
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February 2015 editorial

This month’s news headlines were understandably dominated by the negotiations at the Eurogroup on the future of Greece’s economic adjustment programme. Along a parallel track, the Commission’s country-specific updates in the framework of the European Semester left little room for hope that the crisis is nearing an end: it signals alert for 16 member states (including Germany and France), whose macro-economic imbalances are of serious concer...
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January 2015 editorial

The dawn of 2015 finds Europe in a state of political unrest over its economic future, as Greece elects anti-austerity government and all eyes are now focused on solving the debt riddle that haunts Europe six years now. In the same time, important developments in environmental policy making at the EU level fail to attract the political attention they deserve: the Commission decided to scrap the waste and air legislative proposals, unapologeticall...
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Farewell to a year of environmental backsliding

2014 was indeed an eventful year for Europe: European Parliament elections marked by euroscepticism, the start of a new European Commission, crisis in Ukraine, the non-ending economic recession accompanied by unemployment and increasing social inequality.  2014 was the year of mounting pressures and loss of environmental policies and laws in the EU: the 2030 climate and energy package; the REFIT programme of checks over the “growth potential...
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Why should the world care about environmental regression in Europe?

As the signs of economic recovery in the EU remain frail and uncertain, pressures for more lenient environmental laws threaten to seriously undermine Europe’s long-standing and globally significant green policy outlook. The shrinking of the EU’s environmental agenda has marred the start of the Juncker Commission and signals an agenda of regression and deregulation at a historic moment, when Europe needs to urgently move towards sustainable an...
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October 2014 editorial

The urgent and dramatic campaign of WWF Spain to avert the voting of a bill that severely weakens the conservation framework for national parks captures our hearts: the economic downturn is misused by many political leaders as an excuse to undermine basic environmental legislation and treat unique natural treasures as an infinite resource for quick and dirty financial gains. The reported decision of the Popular Party parliamentary group to freeze...
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Living economy in Greece

Intervention by Tony Long, Director of WWF EPO, at the conference organised by WWF Greece / Athens, 15 October 2014    I start my intervention with a quotation from the then International President of WWF, Chief Anayaoku, at a major conference in Brussels in 2007: “Our way of living is not only threatening the health and diversity of our planet’s species, but has become a huge threat to human survival as well. ·     Societies cann...
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September 2014 editorial

A team of researchers from Melbourne recently proved the 1972 “Limits to Growth” prophetic: our planet is indeed finite and we’re now seriously running out of time. Another revealing development was the recent Eurobarometer survey on the attitudes of Europeans towards the environment, which revealed that: “[t]he financial crisis, from which Europe appears to be slowly and partially emerging, did not  reduce  the  focus  of  European...
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July-August 2014 editorial

As Europe’s response to the economic crisis is now having a clear impact on environmental and social policies across most of Europe and the EU at large, overexploiting the natural environment is seen by troubled member states as a quick-fix solution for rapid economic recovery. The oil & gas frenzy that dominates the development agenda in many Mediterranean states and threatens natural treasures of global significance, environmental deregul...
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June 2014 editorial, by Tony Long

Following the European Parliament elections in all 28 Member States at the end of May, European leaders have received a strong signal from Europe’s voting public. One view is that traditional parties have seemingly been punished for their austerity policies of the past five years, and Eurosceptic, far-left and right parties have advanced. Circumstances vary too much between countries to be able to build up one composite picture that is true for...
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