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2006 Environment Policy Review

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This Environment Policy Review gives an account of the developments that Europe's environment policy underwent in 2006 and endeavours to outline prospects for the coming year.

ACT

Commission Communication of 30 April 2007: "2006 Environment Policy Review" [COM(2007) 195 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

SUMMARY

The Commission goes over the events that had the greatest impact on the European Union's environment policy during 2006 in the four priority areas for action described in the Sixth Environment Action Programme and examines better regulation initiatives.

In 2006 climate change was tackled by strengthening the link between energy and climate policies and by adopting an ' energy package ' and a strategy for tackling climate change. Several proposals were also adopted, for example on air transport, and progress was made in international cooperation. Member States also had to notify their National Allocation Plan for 2008-2012 under the CO2 gas emission allowance trading scheme and the Commission has already adopted decisions on ten NAPs.

In 2007 the Commission intends to focus mainly on revising the Emissions Trading Scheme, supporting the creation of a Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, and also on carbon capture and geological storage, adaptation to climate change and water scarcity.

The loss of biodiversity has led the EU to take action: it has adopted an action plan for biodiversity, in which priorities are laid down for 2010 and beyond, a forest action plan and a thematic strategy for soil protection.

Future efforts will focus on implementing Natura 2000 in the marine environment, continuing international negotiations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), combating deforestation and commercial whaling.

One of the regulations that the EU has adopted on environmental health is the new REACH Regulation (end 2006) that enters into force in 2007. It has also adopted the thematic strategy on pesticides and the thematic strategy on the urban environment, and has restructured the legislative framework for bathing water and groundwater.

Action taken with respect to health issues will be continued with a mid-term review of the Environment and Health Action Plan, proposals on air pollutants and international negotiations regarding mercury.

Thematic strategies on natural resources and waste that were adopted in 2005 were implemented in 2006 with a view to more sustainable resource use. Many directives were adopted on waste and on hazardous substances and products, and deal with batteries, end-of-life vehicles and the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances.

The Commission intends to prepare a Green Paper on sustainable consumption and production and to develop measures concerning industrial policy and public procurement. Environmental technologies will continue to be promoted and assessed and a Green Paper on Ship Dismantling is also under way.

In its efforts to provide Better Regulation, the Commission has continued to revise many sectoral laws so as to simplify them. It is also continuing its work with stakeholders to identify possible difficulties in implementing legislation. It has furthermore developed tools that enable it to better assess the impact of its policy proposals.

For 2007, the Commission plans to lay the foundations for a Shared Environmental Information System, to publish a Green Paper on market-based instruments and to launch a Water Information System.

Background

This annual activity report is a contribution to the Lisbon Process and to the European Strategy for Sustainable Development, in which the environment is a vital component, and aims to ensure that the Sixth Environment Action Programme is followed through.

Last updated: 28.08.2007
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