23 March 2010

Relations of the Union and the member states 8 – Environment

The next topic that should be in the competence of the European federation to a certain extent is protection of the environment and wildlife species. I hope that “communitarity” of this topic is evident: on the present, the man is capable of interfering in the environment with such intensity that effects are far-reaching and not limited into state borders, especially because the states of Europe are relatively small. The necessity of resolving problems with the environment in supranational level is evident already today, a typical example is quality of water in rivers flowing through more states (e. g. Rhine or Danube). On the other hand, there are matters concerning environmental protection which are of local importance undoubtedly – for example, every greater construction must have done a study of its influence on the environment, it would be however superfluous that e. g. construction of a bridge over a river would be dealt with at the federal level. It is therefore necessary to determine what environmental protection should be a matter of the federation (and what of the member states).

Generally, the power of the federation will be legislative, it cannot be expected that the federation itself will construct sewage disposal plants or will make gas desulphurization of power plants. Environmental protection from the federation's side will therefore be in principle passing laws and regulations having obligatory force in all the union. What all should these regulations decide about?

The greatest reach over the borders of individual states has undoubtedly air pollution because air streams can bring it long way from the place where it originated. Also surface water pollution has equally wide reach – the reason of cross-border reach is obvious. Groundwater pollution joins it in actual fact, too, because it is in relation to surface water – no part of water is isolated from water circulation on Earth.

Unlike the example of the USA, I do not think that it is appropriate that the federation proclaim directly and protect with powers of its own national parks or other protected areas in territories of its member states (other situation can be in possible territories of the union being part of no member state). In spite of this, the federation has to be engaged in landscape protection because there are living creatures that move in long distances through the landscape and disregard the state borders. If some state provides protection to these creatures in its territory whereas the other (neighbour) states not, their living can be all the same heavily dangered and they can vanish from the European landscape. We can see already now that cross-border cooperation is necessary now, e. g. Europe-wide project of protected areas network called Natura 2000 and similar ones.

It appears very advisable to me to take over the provision of the Swiss constitution that speaks about the protection of animal and plant species dangered by dying out. The reason is that the species dying out (if they are not endemic) are dangered especially by insufficient number of individuals necessary to reproduction that is to preserving of the species and by occurrence of them in areas isolated from each other which can be in territory of more states. For this reason it is not sufficient that the above mentioned protection is in the hands of lonely individual states, on the other hand I take for better the arrangement that the federation will co-operate with the member states in protection of the dangered species than that it will be the federation's exclusive power.

Also protection of living creatures themselves from cruel, inacceptable treatment belongs to the topic of environmnetal protection. That is not a topic which is normally present in state constitutions, an example of the opposite is the federal constitution of Switzerland that deal with this topic. I have written about protection of farm animals (by words of corresponding veterinary regulations) in my aerlier post about the single market (Relations of the Union and the member states 5 - Single market), here, I have in mind protection of other living creatures – free-living animals or that ones not being used usually for the economic purposes. To determine rules how to treat them, how to kill them, whether it is possible to kill them at all, rules of holding them in captivity and similarly and along with these competencies also a power to enforce them should be in competence of the federation. Also supervision over protected species' import from other parts of the world in the union's territory and issuing rules of trading in these species including determining which species ought not to be exported out of the union's territory belongs to the competence of free-living species protection. The federation's right to regulate the trade in animals and plant species cannot be restricted to the trade over the union's borders but has to concern also the trade inside the borders of the federation and has to include regulation of the trade in parts of animal bodies and products of them because animal products get in the European market with trading on account of them surviving of some species is either dangered by hunting (for example the elephant tasks or rhinoceros horns) or the animals are treated cruelly, even tortured (e. g. skinning fur animals alive in China).

It is also necessary that animal testing is regulated by a law in the federal level, similarly as the Swiss constitution speaks about it because this use of animals would move in states with weaker legislation in case of different legal arrangement in every member state. Co-ordination in the federal level is desirable also for the reason that many of the same animal tests have been done needlesly more times in various places (countries) than it is necessary and the number of the tests is therefore too high.

I will return seemingly to energetics that I have written previously about in the following lines. It is about nuclear energetics which causes questions as regards its relation to the environment. It is the nuclear waste what causes the loudest controversies. Yet production of power in the nuclear power plants itself produces anxiety though the fear of repeating the accident happened in the Ucrainian power plant Chernobyl is groundless. Nowadays, there are states in Europe that make use of the nuclear energy and there are states that reject it. It is not necessary that the new European federation changes it and that the one group of states adapts itself to the other group. But the states using not the nuclear energy facilities should be sure that the nuclear power plants working in the other states follow the severe regulations their creation also the non-nuclear states can participate in by means of federal bodies. It is therefore desirable that all questions joint to nuclear energy production are subjected to the federation, not to the individual member states.