Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-07-05-Speech-3-382"

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"Mr President, the importance of forests in the European Union is clearly illustrated by the fact that they cover 36% of our territory and employ 2.2 million people. In several areas of the European Union, the forests are often the only viable economic option, because of poor soil or the lack of other natural resources. It is also clear that the importance of forests is by no means limited to economic factors. They encompass many other dimensions of social and environmental interest, such as the protection of the soil, the fight against erosion, the preservation of water resources, biodiversity, climatic stability etc. Despite all of this, the forests have been a kind of ‘poor relation’ amongst Community policies. It was only after many years, in 1998, with the efforts of the European Parliament, that the European Union finally managed to approve a strategy for the preservation and development of forests. However, given forestry’s unquestionable interrelationship with agriculture and its territorial impact, it is extraordinary that the Commission has not been more ambitious in its proposals and that the Council has historically been so short-sighted. Despite the fact that the European Union’s forestry strategy is a step forward in terms of ideas, it is yet to have any practical expression. On the contrary, in some ways it has moved backwards, as demonstrated by this Community regulation on the protection of forests. With regard in particular to the aspect which is of great concern to my country – the regulation on combating fires – it is regrettable that whereas in the period 1992-1996 the European Union benefited from an annual sum of EUR 14 million, this annual sum is now to be reduced to EUR 10 million, that is, by 40%. Therefore, Mr President, I would like to suggest to the Council and the Commission that they increase this amount and, if possible, create a Community system for information on forest fires."@en1

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