An important step was taken beginning of June towards measuring progress in the EU on a broader basis than GDP alone, when the European Parliament (EP) adopted its resolution on “Beyond GDP” and a new regulation on European environmental accounts as an important implementation tool.
Broad support to Beyond GDP resolution
The final vote on the Beyond GDP resolution showed broad support to the Commission's groundwork towards supplementing GDP with social and environmental indicators. By and large, the resolution supports the actions proposed by the Commission and stresses the need to develop clear and measurable indicators for measuring medium- and longterm economic and social progress. The next step is for the Commission to continue delivering on further actions as specified in the 2009 EU Roadmap on
"GDP and beyond".
With the adoption of the resolution, all political EU institutions have now expressed their support to the strategy outlined in the Commisson’s Communication “GDP and beyond”.
First concrete follow-up from EU Roadmap 2009
The Regulation on Environmental Economic Accounts is the first formal delivery of the 2009 EU Roadmap to be implemented. During the debate in plenary preceding the vote, several speakers underlined the importance of measuring aspects of progress relating to the environment.
"Environmental accounts are a missing piece of the puzzle in terms of understanding economic activities better", said rapporteur and EP Environment Committee chair Jo Leinen after the vote. " This is an important contribution to a new welfare index, comprising economic, environmental and social progress in a society."
The adoption of the regulation means that, for the first time, a data set on three key issues, namely air emissions, material flows and environmental taxes, which is fully compatible with national accounts, will become available. Most Member States already collect this information on a voluntary basis, but the new legislation will harmonize national reporting, and as such introduce comparable "green accounts" across the EU. Besides these three areas, further modules might be introduced at a later stage, such as for example environmental protection expenditure, environmental goods and services
sector, energy accounts or eco-system services.
Commissioner Potočnik welcomes EP achievements
Commissioner Janez Potočnik welcomes the adoption of the Beyond GDP Resolution and the new Regulation on Environmental Economic Accounts. "These outcomes demonstrate broad consensus on the fact that human development and well-being is about more than we can measure through monetary values", he points out in a statement issued after the vote.
The Commissioner sees the adoption of the new Regulation on European Environmental Accounts as the first of several actions to develop more inclusive indicators, and as a clear sign that things are moving in the right direction.
"Work will now continue to ensure that the Commission delivers on the promises made in the 2009 Roadmap", he concludes.
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