European expansion: Is “New Europe” going to drag …

European expansion: Is “New Europe” going to drag down old Europe environmentally?

The upcoming expansion of the European Union in 2004 will have many political and economic impacts. At the same time, environmental impacts are going to be even more drastic. Environmental standards and policies are quite different from current EU standards – how to harmonize them with the ‘new European countries’? In this German press release, Dr. Felix Christian Matthies with German Öko-Institute has identified several issues to be brought to attention. Here they are in a nutshell:

– Nuclear power plants: Most Eastern European countries still maintain old, insecure nuclear power plants, made by Russian producers. Lithuania actually still uses the same type of nuclear power plants which blew up in Chernobyl – scary!

– Economic power/resources are lower than in Western countries: Who’s going to pay for new power plants and developments of renewable energies? This is going to put a higher strain on countries such as Germany, France, UK.

– Coal vs. Nuclear power: Classical “coal countries” such as Germany, Spain, Poland, and Hungary may get stronger but at the same time countries favoring nuclear power plants will be strengthen by the addition of the Czech Repubic. This will unbalance Europeans strategy to phase down nuclear energy and at the same time to eliminate coal production.

Not specifically mentioned in this press release but also of relevance: Other topics to be discussed will be GHG emission trading systems, clean air initiatives and in general: Who’s going to pay for this? Germany still hasn’t recuperated from the German reunification and the closing down of dirty coal mines in Eastern Germany. In most parts of Eastern Germany the unemployment rate is at 20 percent or higher.

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