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8th Alpine ministerial meeting: mixed results

At the 8th Alpine Conference held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen/D on 16 November the Environment Ministers of the alpine states were unable to reach agreement on drawing up a legally binding "Population and Culture" protocol for the Alpine Convention. In the area of transport however the alpine states intend to set a new direction.
The Environment Ministers of the alpine countries could not agree on a successor to the interim Secretary General, Noël Lebel. The candidate supported by the majority was vetoed by two states. On the subject of population and culture the ministers resolved merely to draw up a declaration rather than a legally binding implementing protocol. This means that population issues are still not handled on the same level as such topic areas as the environment and industry, with so far nine legally binding protocols for the implementation of the Alpine Convention. As a result guaranteeing the provision of local services in rural regions is neglected in the Alpine Convention in much the same way as for instance good training and further training opportunities or the furtherance of regional architecture.
By contrast the meeting did for the first time adopt a plan of action for the Alpine Convention over several years, focusing on targets for activities over the next few years. On the transport issue the Environment Ministers of the alpine states and a representative of the European Commission issued a declaration under which external costs of HGV traffic are also to be charged. In addition toll revenue should now also be earmarked to fund rail infrastructure, too. Nearly all the ministers present voiced their concerns about climate change in their presentations and its repercussions on the Alps. Germany officially handed over the Chair to the Alpine Convention to Austria.
Source and information: www.cipra.org (de/fr/it/sl/en)