A blueprint for making the prospective Mediterranean free trade zone an environmental role model.
European environment, 11
If not accompanied by strong environmental provisions, the prospective Mediterranean Free Trade Zone (MFTZ) is bound to increase existing pressures on scarce natural resources in the region. This article argues that the existing bilateral association agreements between the European Union and Southern Mediterranean countries are clearly insufficient from an environmental perspective. If the MFTZ were to be based upon those agreements, then it would represent a free trade agreement environmentally inferior to the North American Free Trade Agreement and even the World Trade Organization. To turn the MFTZ into an environmental role model instead, a number of provisions are indispensable: environmentally friendly preambular language, upward harmonization of environmental standards, a comprehensive general exceptions clause, a prominent role given to the precautionary principle and the allocation of the burden of proof on the party challenging an environmental measure. Equally importantly, the European Union needs to step up financial, technical and other assistance as part of a wider regional environmental strategy and partnership. Doing so would ensure that the prospective MFTZ becomes a promoter not only of trade and economic growth, but also environmental protection in the Southern Mediterranean region.
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