The recent union of the Green Party with SPD will bring environmental lobbying to ...

The recent union of the Green Party with SPD will bring environmental lobbying to the fore.

The recent union of the Green Party with SPD will bring environmental lobbying to the fore.

News this week of a new Anglo-German political alliance will no doubt have lobbyists in London and Brussels on the edge of their seats.

The stratospheric rise of Germany's new chancellor Gerhard Schroder, the resulting swing to the left after 16 years of conservatism, plus the impending German EU presidency is already sending ripples of anticipation through the ranks of European lobbyists.

A reordering of the EU agenda is almost inevitable. And lobbyists are waiting with bated breath to see what the victory of the SPD and its coalition with the Green Party will mean, not just in Germany, but in Europe as a whole.

It is uncertain how much influence will be wielded by Schroder's coalition partners at EU level. But what is likely is that the structure of the new coalition will push environmental issues to the very top of the German, EU and British agendas.

The Green Party is almost certain to fill the post of Environment Ministry, a prospect that is creating unease in many quarters - particularly as having never been in national office before, the Green Party's policies are still tinged with idealism, or as some would say, extremism.

The recent announcement of the phasing out of nuclear energy by Schroder's new government is being flagged as an indicator of the power of the Greens.

What is clear is that both the SPD and the Green Party are in favor of environmental fiscal reform. The Green Party plans to decrease social contributions, which, coupled with increased energy costs, will be used as a strategy to create more jobs. In order to achieve this, the Green Party is fully prepared to address energy pricing within the policy framework of the EU. As a result, policies on transportation are also certain to be affected, particularly if Germany works with the Nordic countries to push the green agenda.

Caution seems to be the watchword for both of the German coalition parties.

And many fear that if there is any doubt about a company or products' green or safety credentials - even if this is not backed up by scientific evidence of a risk - the tendency will be to impose a ban, compounding the whole post-mad cow stance of the European directive.

However, this cloud has a silver lining for the PR industry. If EU policies take on a green tinge in the new year, the concerns of client companies operating in, and seeking to establish a foothold on the continent, may well produce a welcome increase in monitoring and consultancy work - never mind a possible rash of EC tenders.

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