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A strategy for integrating the environment into EU policies

The Cardiff process is designed to introduce a horizontal approach to environment policy by incorporating it into all Community policies.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Council of 27 May 1998 on a partnership for integration: a strategy for integrating the environment into EU policies (Cardiff- June 1998) [COM(1998) 333 - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The Luxembourg European Council called on the Commission to put forward a strategy for implementing Article 6 of the consolidated EC Treaty, which states that environmental protection is to be integrated into the definition and implementation of all Community activities and policies.

Environmental protection is one of the major challenges facing Europe and is therefore a Community objective. Looking beyond Europe's environmental concerns, the Community has committed itself to tackling global environmental issues.

The Community strategy based on a vertical approach, which consisted of adopting environmental regulations, produced good results but only partly solved the problems.

The need to integrate environmental concerns into other EU policies has been acknowledged since the Single European Act. In addition, the fifth environmental action programme has established this objective as a priority.

In this document the Commission has set out guidelines which will enable the environmental dimension to be properly integrated into other policies:

  • integrating the environment into all activities by Community institutions;
  • a review of existing policies;
  • introduction of strategies for action in key areas;
  • drafting of a Council report for the Vienna European Council on how the environmental dimension has been successfully integrated into other policies of the Member States;
  • definition of priority actions and mechanisms for monitoring implementation;
  • review by the European Council of environmental integration into sectoral policies;
  • a joint study by the Council, Parliament and the Commission on the development of mechanisms for implementing these guidelines and for monitoring their implementation.

Fully integrating the environment into all Community policies is a long-term challenge. In the short term, the Commission proposes a gradual approach based on two priority objectives: Agenda 2000 and the Kyoto Protocol.

Agenda 2000:

Environmental concerns are already included in Agenda 2000, firstly in the framework of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Cohesion Policy and, secondly, in the strategies for enlargement to include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is of particular environmental importance as it will:

  • reduce price support in favour of direct payments, which will enhance the economic performance of producers and lead to more balanced use of polluting inputs;
  • enable Member States to ensure that direct payments are conditional on compliance with environmental requirements;
  • lead to a rural development programme and access to environmental protection.

This approach is also included in the reform of the Cohesion Policy in the form of a series of measures such as:

  • the introduction of systematic scrutiny of the environmental impact of projects over ECU 50 million;
  • the adoption of a degraded environment as one of the criteria for defining eligible urban areas within the new Objective 2 regions;
  • the integration of the environment as an objective for assistance from the Structural Funds in the framework of proposed new Structural Funds regulations;
  • the appraisal by the Commission of regional development plans as regards environmental protection;
  • the introduction of a partnership involving environmental bodies and non-governmental environmental organisations for the preparation of Cohesion Policy intervention programmes.

Environmental policy is also one of the requirements as regards the accession strategy for Central and Eastern European countries. The applicant countries have already adopted plans for incorporating the environmental body of law into their legislation. The Commission has called on the applicant countries to integrate the environmental dimension into all their policy areas.

The Kyoto Protocol.

Fulfilment of the undertakings entered into under the Kyoto Protocol requires an integrated approach.

The signatory States have undertaken to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2008-2012 in order to combat global warming. To meet the commitments given, a global strategy must be put in place, including initiatives in the areas of transport, energy, agriculture and industry.

The Cardiff European Council (15-16 June 1998) noted the will of the Commission and the Council to integrate environmental issues into all Community policies and stressed the need to evaluate the environmental impact of Commission proposals with a significant impact.

The Council, in its various training programmes, is requested to define specific strategies along these lines.

The Austrian, German and Finnish presidencies have affirmed their desire to continue the process.

RELATED ACTS

Commission working document of 1 June 2004 entitled "Integrating environmental considerations into other policy areas - a stocktaking of the Cardiff process" [COM(2004) 394 - Official Journal C 49 of 28 February 2006]
This stocktaking shows the positive results of the Cardiff process, but also points to several weaknesses in its implementation, including the need to improve the consistency of strategies across Council formations and for greater emphasis to be placed on good practice in terms of content and implementation. It also points to a set of measures at Community and national levels to support the implementation of the Cardiff process. In addition, the Commission believes environmental integration needs increased visibility, as well as political support at the highest level. Lastly, the document underlines the importance of seizing a number of forthcoming opportunities to promote environmental integration, namely the review of the sustainable development strategy planned for 2004-2005, the mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy in 2005 and the preparation of the new financial perspective as of 2007.

Last updated: 12.05.2006
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