MEPs welcome Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment
Publication date: 26 September 2006
Around 80% of the European Union's population live in cities but their needs and interests are often neglected in the EU's funds, projects and strategies. In an own-initiative report by Gyula HEGYI (PES, HU), Parliament welcomes a Commission paper (COM(2005) 718) on a Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment (TSUE) but argues that it does not go far enough. The report was adopted 448 votes in favour, 49 against and 110 abstentions.
The TSUE would boost the overall environmental performance of cities in Europe by cutting bureaucracy, improving the implementation of environmental policy and encouraging long-term environmental planning at local level.
Parliament strongly believes that a Sustainable Urban Management Plan (SUMP) and a Sustainable Urban Transport Plan (SUTP) should be required by Community law for all urban areas with over 100,000 inhabitants. Clear deadlines and binding targets at local and European level would be needed, as voluntary measures have so far proven ineffective.
The House says SUMPs should include waste management plans, noise maps and action plans, local air pollution plans and local environmental plans. SUTPs should promote non-motorised transport modes such as cycling and walking, promote public transport and tackle growing individual car use, through parking restrictions and congestion charges.
The report urges more use of environment-friendly modes of transport and technologies, such as bio-fuels and hybrid car technologies. MEPs call on the Member States, in cooperation with local authorities, to make efforts to achieve a shift in inner-city passenger kilometre of at least 5% to sustainable transport methods, such as public transportation and cycling, within the period of 2002-2012.
MEPs recall that air pollution is a major cause of health problems in the EU. The committee stresses, therefore, that cities with high air pollution should consider introducing congestion charges and establishing low emission zones.
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