The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a strategy to clean up the Mediterranean and halt pollution from industry, shipping and households by 2020.
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a strategy to clean up the Mediterranean and halt pollution from industry, shipping and households by 2020.
It said the major oil spill off Lebanon during the recent Israel-Hezbollah war highlighted the vulnerability of the Mediterranean where pollution threatens the health of the 143 million people living on the sea's shores and the long-term development of such key sectors as fishing and tourism.
It estimated pollution now costs "the equivalent of more than 3 percent of the gross domestic product of some North African nations."
"We have to act for the promotion of economic development of the Mediterranean and the protection of the health of its people," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a statement.
He proposed a long-term strategy of financial and technical support for EU neighbors along the Mediterranean's eastern and southern shores. Officials put no price tag on that but said funding would come in the years ahead from a variety of sources including the EU budget and International lenders.
The key aims are to reduce pollution, promote sustainable use of the sea and its coastline, encourage environmental cooperation and the drafting of credible environmental protection legislation, said Dimas.
The EU strategy will target the most significant sources of pollution -- industrial emissions, municipal waste and urban waste water, which are responsible for up to 80 percent of Mediterranean Sea pollution, said Dimas.
The EU hopes to finalize its strategy at a gathering of Euro-Med Environment Ministers in Cairo on 20 November.
Source: Associated Press