The World Trade Organization (WTO) in Need of Ecological Reform ? A Close Look at the Existing Proposals by the European Parliament.


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The World Trade Organization (WTO) in Need of Ecological Reform ? A Close Look at the Existing Proposals by the European Parliament.
European Journal of Law Reform
Ziegler Andreas R.
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vol. 1, Nr. 1-2 (1998-1999)
As of 1998, the debate on ”Trade and Environment” has been going on for almost ten years. After the successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round in 1993 and in view of the newly created World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994 many observers thought that the WTO would now approach the existing problems in this field without further delay. These expectations were reinforced by the Ministerial Decision on Trade and Environment on occasion of the signature of the Final Act in Marrakesh on 14 April 1994 and the creation of a Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) in early 1995.
The reality, however, proved to be different. After some initial enthusiasm, the impetus seems to have slowed down considerably and the work presented by the CTE at the first Meeting of the Contracting Parties of the WTO in December 1996 in Singapore was not up to the high expectations by environmentalists and international lawyers. While the current problems seem to be identified , the solutions suggested by legal writers, NGOs and other actors seem far from any form that could reach consensus. On the whole, there are only a few concrete proposals for a reform of the WTO and especially the GATT system. They generally ask for the introduction of substantive or procedural provisions into the existing treaties in order to take account of today’s regional and global ecological problems.
The European Community due to its commercial strength is undoubtedly one of the main actors within the WTO besides the United States. It is therefore interesting to observe that, in particular, the European Parliament has closely followed the trade and environment de-bate since the early 1990s and actively participated in the debate on the ecological reform of the world trading system and, in particular, the WTO and thereby constantly pushed the Commission to take action (admittedly with variable success). The following article there-fore tries to analyse the development of the European Parliament’s various proposals over time in view of the current debate and to place their views and suggestions within the framework of the general debate in order to show which positions are taken by the European Parliament, how much they are backed by the Commission and the Council, and to what extent they contrast with the views expressed by other main actors such as NGOs, developing countries and the various international organisations involved.
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