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Environment: Commissioner Dimas sets out 2006 priorities building on momentum of landmark year 2005
Commission Européenne - IP/06/178 16/02/2006
Brussels, 16 February 2006
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas today set out his broad priorities for this year as the European Commission published its annual Environment Policy Review (EPR) for 2005. The Review underlines that last year EU and global climate change policy made a major advance and that the foundations of the next generation of EU environment policy were laid through the first four in a series of Thematic Strategies. The new policies show that protecting the environment and boosting economic growth can go hand in hand. Over the course of 2006 Commissioner Dimas intends to build on this progress with a series of further climate change initiatives and continued action to simultaneously protect the environment and stimulate economic growth through technological innovation and better regulation. Preserving biological diversity will also be a major focus this year, and efforts to ensure Member States implement EU environment laws properly and on time will be stepped up.
Commissioner Dimas commented: "I am determined to maintain the strong momentum created in 2005, which was a landmark year for climate change with the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol exactly a year ago, the take-off of EU emissions trading and the launch of global talks on future action. It was also a breakthrough year for a new wave of environmental policies that will bring both environmental and economic gains. While building on these achievements, this year we must also increase efforts to tackle the deterioration of ecosystems, as shown by the continuing decline in biological diversity, which threatens to undermine the very basis on which our economies depend. I am glad that we have the tool of EPR, which allows us to take stock and adjust priorities."
This year’s priorities
Climate change: Having pushed strongly for their early start, the EU will be a pro-active and constructive contributor to the international talks on future global action to combat climate change that were agreed on at the world climate conference in Montreal last December. The first meeting will take place in May. Domestically, the Commission will present an action plan to improve energy efficiency. It will review the functioning of the EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, a key tool for achieving the Kyoto Protocol emissions targets, and propose any changes deemed necessary. It will also present a legislative proposal to include aircraft emissions in the scheme. A major task for the Commission in the second half of the year will be to check and approve Member States’ plans for allocating emission allowances to companies for the scheme’s 2008-2012 trading period.
The second phase of the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), launched last autumn to identify further cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will start yielding results this year that are likely to lead to future EU-wide measures.
The Commission will also issue a Green Paper on adaptation to climate change, including recommendations of cost-effective practice in developing adaptation policies.
Biodiversity: Preserving biological diversity - the variety of genes, species and ecosystems that together form the web of life – is, like climate change, a pressing global challenge. The Commission will issue an ambitious roadmap for achieving the EU goal of halting the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010. Action-based solutions for safeguarding biodiversity will also be the focus of the Commission’s annual environmental conference programme, Green Week, in late May and early June. The Natura 2000 network of conservation sites will be completed for the EU-25 and extended to the marine environment.
Eco-innovation and better regulation:
Promoting environmental technologies and eco-innovation, the objective of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) launched in 2004, directly contributes to the objectives of the EU Strategy on Jobs and Growth (Lisbon Strategy). Implementation of ETAP will advance further this year through a range of actions. The Commission will report on Member States’ National Roadmaps for ETAP to the informal Environment Council to be held in May. A European panel on environmental technologies will be launched to help mobilise key players, increase public visibility and define the next steps for action under ETAP. Work will also progress this year on defining details of the new Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) for 2007-2013. Environment policy will continue to play its part in the drive for Better Regulation, not least through the two Thematic Strategies on the environment due to be presented within the next few months, on soil protection and sustainable use of pesticides. Simplifying legislation where possible will remain a key part of wider policy reviews, for instance on industrial emissions.
Timely transposition and proper implementation of EU environment legislation can pose difficulties for Member States, leading to a less than optimal level of environmental protection. Through close cooperation with Member States, the Commission intends to reinforce its efforts to help them address such problems in good time, while reserving the right to continue using its infringement powers where necessary. It will also present a compliance assistance programme to help small and medium-sized enterprises overcome implementation difficulties.
2005 a ‘tipping point’
The Environment Policy Review highlights the most important policies launched last year, such as the emissions trading scheme and four Thematic Strategies on the environment, tackling issues as complex as air pollution and waste management. The Review documents new evidence of increasing environmental pressures, particularly in the fields of climate change and biodiversity loss. It also looks to the future. As a new feature, the Review includes an overview of Member States’ plans for accelerating economic growth through environment policy.
The Review identifies 2005 as a ‘tipping point’ in the evolution of EU environment policy:
2005 witnessed increasing environmental pressures. The EPR documents some key trends.
The EPR and further information can be found at: