An agreement on better monitoring and reporting of environmental data should be a first step towards measuring the EU economy on a wider basis than GDP, according to MEPs, who approved legislation on "environmental economic accounts" on Tuesday and a non-binding resolution on "Beyond GDP" on Wednesday.
Member States' reporting of "environmental economic accounts" to Eurostat (the EU statistical office) will, from 2012, cover air emissions, material flows and environmental taxes that are levied. The legislation aims to aid the collation and comparability of this data, which is already collected by most Member States on a voluntary basis. Further 'modules' - for example on the use of water and forest resources - may be added in future, following a review.
Rapporteur and Environment Committee Chair Jo Leinen (S&D, DE) said, ""Environmental accounts are a missing piece of the puzzle in terms of better understanding economic activities. I am pleased that the EU is taking a step towards properly accounting for its natural capital. This is an important contribution to a new welfare index, comprising economic, environmental and social progress in a society."
Parliament approved the draft regulation on environmental economic accounts with 616 votes in favour, 26 against and 24 abstentions. The text had already been informally agreed with Council, which also will need to give its formal approval for it to enter the EU law books.
MEPs also adopted a non-binding resolution on "Beyond GDP" in response to a 2009 European Commission communication of the same title. MEPs indicated they support the Commission's groundwork towards supplementing this economic measure with social and environmental indicators and they called for concrete and consistent proposals for indicators that can be monitored by Eurostat.
Anna Rosbach (ECR, DK), who drafted the resolution, commented: "I hope we will have new indicators in the very short-term. The EU is coming to this a bit late and in my view we have to step up the pressure."
Procedure: Codecision (1st reading)