HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc933-4W
Mr. Rosindell

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Commission Communication, "A European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development", with particular reference to(a) social dialogue, (b) priority to market-based approaches to provide price incentives and (c) support for coal-fired power stations. [57894]

Mr. Meacher

The European Commission adopted its Communication, "A Sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development", on 15 May 2001. My Department submitted an explanatory memorandum on this document to Parliament on 20 June 2001. The European Council agreed a Strategy for Sustainable Development in Göteborg on 16 June, drawing to a large extent on the material in the Commission's proposal and highlighting the importance both of stakeholder consultation and of getting prices right so that they reflect external costs.

The Commission's Communication included a proposal to phase out subsidies to fossil fuel production and consumption by 2010, but this does not feature in the GÖteborg Conclusions. The Government do not give any direct support to coal-fired power stations. However the DTI-supported Cleaner Coal Technology Programme encourages collaboration between UK industry and universities in the development of technology and expertise which delivers environmental benefits, in a manner entirely consistent with the spirit of the Commission's Communication.