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Rio+20: The EU approach and current developments

Some weeks ago, the European Commission discussed the upcoming Rio+20 conference on sustainable development (20-22 June 2012). When you read through the minutes of 22 May meeting of the Commission (p. 13-18), one can see that the expectations at EU level are not very high:

“[Commissioner Piebalgs] said that the only outcome that the European Union could reasonably expect from this highly significant global event would necessarily be a compromise.”

The first preparations of the summit were already noticed with quite some caution, for example by EESC President Staffan Nielsson back in January. The low expectations for the summit have implicitly been voiced by the European Parliament which decided not to send a delegations because of overly high hotel prices. A parliamentary question regarding the costs of the Commission delegation is still pending.

At the Commission meeting last month, the general confrontation lines were described as follows:

“Given the current state of play of the negotiations, [Commission Piebalgs] also pointed out that the political positions, by groups of countries, that were emerging in the run-up to the conference followed the traditional ideological north-south divide. He emphasised the need to prevent the emergence of new coalitions and new sub-groupings within existing alliances, which would make the negotiations even more complex and their outcome even more uncertain.”

And in an information note from the Commission and the Danish Presidency presented to Council on Friday, the EU negotiators reported that:

“Although some progress was achieved, the lack of progress made during the additional third negotiation period in New York is regrettable and the number of unsettled issues constitutes a significant challenge”

According to the note, there was still room for “success”, but seeing how this conference preparations seem to evolve I doubt that anything feasible will come out of the process.

In the end, it will have been yet another global conference pretending that a better world is possible if you just put together thousands of bureaucrats, diplomats, and politicians whose main goal is not having to change anything.



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