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EUmembership vital to UK's environmental status

BRITAIN must stay in the European Union if it is to continue to make environmental improvements, environment secretary Margaret Beckett said last week.

Beckett's comments followed the strong showing in the recent European elections by anti-Europe parties such as the UK Independence Party.

'Our membership of the EU has seen improvements in rivers and beaches and cleaner air. If we opt out we will be marginalised and consigned to navel gazing, ' said Beckett, speaking at the Environment Forum 2004.

Beckett added that the UK is a leader in addressing environmental issues and if it opts out of Europe it will lose this status, reducing its ability to convince other countries to tackle major environmental issues such as climate change.

She said that the UK had played a leading role in convincing Russian president Vladimir Putin not to opt out of the Kyoto agreement, which sets global targets for addressing climate change.

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