Johannesburg/Brussels, August 28, 2002 – As heated talks continue at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (1), Friends of the Earth Europe expressed anger at the EU’s failure to lead on developing and strengthening effective global agreements for people and the environment.

In discussions all day yesterday the EU said that they would not support a UN text that would set an international framework on corporate accountability and corporate social responsibility. This proposal was originally put forward by the G77, the group of developing countries, in negotiations on globalisation, trade and finance.

The EU’s stance has disappointed campaigners from around the world. The call for a binding international framework on corporate accountability has become a rallying cry for environmental, development, human rights groups and trade unions. Communities want a guarantee that corporations will not damage their environments and livelihoods. Only an effective alliance between the EU and developing countries will deliver progress in Johannesburg. FoEE believes that it is irresponsible that the EU is failing to support the developing countries’ proposal, which would help ensure that European companies improve their social and environmental behaviour in the developing world.

The EU also failed to state that global environmental agreements, such as the Kyoto and Biosafety Protocol, must not be adversely affected by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This has been a key demand of NGOs from around the world (2) which fear that current trade talks on the relationship of environmental agreements and trade rules will further undermine environmental governance.

The EU also seems so desperate to get any global target for renewable energy agreed that it is willing to settle for a ridiculously small increase in renewable energy production. Friends of the Earth Europe is concerned that the result of a vague and unambitious renewables target could be that more large dams are built in the third world – with very negative consequences for people and the environment. The EU must support a 10% new renewable energy target as proposed by Brazil. They should reiterate their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and work with Japan to ensure that it is mentioned in the final text over the protests of the United States. The precautionary principle, a keystone of EU and global environmental policy-making is endangered if the EU does not take a stronger stance in its defence.

Daniel Mittler, Earth Summit Coordinator for Friends of the Earth said: “This summit can only deliver meaningful results if the European Union shows true leadership. On many key issues, the EU is part of the problem rather than the solution. The time for the EU to stand up for people and the environment is now.”

Dr. Martin Rocholl, FoEE , tel: 02-542 01 80
Contact in Johannesburg:
Alexandra Wandel, FoEE, +27-72-406 47 49
Daniel Mittler, FOEI Earth Summit Campaign Coordinator, +27 72 401 5394
Notes to editors
(1) Official information on the summit is at
(2) A statement of 200 NGOs from over 55 countries calls on the Earth Summit to state that global environmental agreements must not be subordinated by WTO rules.