31st May 2001

On the Opinion of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate on behalf of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee as I believe it is absolutely essential that this Parliament fully comes to understand that if we are really serious about sustainability then we have to integrate our social, economic and environmental policies - they have to pull in the same direction, which they clearly do not do at present.

If we are to have long-term sustainability and develop a truly Green economy, we have to take care that we foster environmentally-friendly businesses which use resources efficiently: that includes its workforce.

If we are demanding that businesses provide social and environmental audits, we need the accountants and other professionals that can do that.

If we want builders who can construct energy-efficient buildings, we need to train them. Hence our call for all EU funded training initiatives to take the environmental dimension into account.

Social inclusion is a key component of a sustainable society: hence the need for a guaranteed minimum income to provide for basic needs: we need to combat discrimination and poverty and hence the Social Agenda has a role in creating a sustainable society.

Hence our call for rapid progress on enabling people to work efficiently through effective consultation and participation, reduced working hours and good quality work in safe working conditions, supported by an effective system of social security.

Strong local economies have a vital role to play in, for example reducing transport requirements and maintaining social cohesion so we want to see the budget lines maintained to support that

Sustainable development is about creating a world in which there are no losers. As the Commission's Communication points out:
"Sustainable development offers the EU a positive long-term vision of a society that is more prosperous and more just and which promises a cleaner, safer, healthier environment - a society which delivers a better quality of life for us, for our children and for our grandchildren."

(It's a pity the Nice Treaty missed this opportunity!)

We cannot achieve this if we continue with policies that pull in different directions and even undermine each other: we have to find an effective way to ensure integration and sustainability.