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IP/07/603

Brussels, 3 mai 2007

Environment: Commission reviews recent achievements, current priorities and future plans

The European Commission has adopted its mid-term review of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme (6EAP), which looks at progress made since the 6EAP started in 2002 and the challenges ahead until it finishes in 2012. The mid-term review concludes that the EU is on track with adopting the policy measures outlined in the Programme. It makes clear that the Commission will continue to focus on addressing the 6EAP's four priority areas, namely combating climate change, halting biodiversity loss and protecting nature, reducing environmental impacts on health and reversing the unsustainable management of natural resources and waste. The Commission has also adopted its Annual Environment Policy Review for 2006, which reports on EU policy developments last year and looks in some detail at Member States' policy performance. It shows that climate change is higher on the political agenda than ever before and that policy has progressed on issues such as the revised sustainable development strategy, the REACH chemicals regulation and the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources.

Presenting the documents, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "EU environment policy is delivering tangible results for our citizens and has helped European industry to become a world leader in ecotechnologies. But despite this progress, global emissions of greenhouse gases are rising, the loss of biodiversity is not yet under control, pollution is still harming public health and volumes of waste are increasing in Europe. The Commission is committed to fully implementing the current Environment Action Programme in order to make significant progress towards tackling these issues."

Mid-term review of the Sixth Environment Action Programme

The 6EAP identifies priority actions to be taken in the programme's four priority areas. In the coming years the Commission will focus on climate change policies for the post-2012 period and on adaptation to climate change. It will implement the 2006 biodiversity action plan, adopt measures on vehicle and industrial emissions, implement REACH, give priority to further implementation of the thematic strategies on natural resources and on waste prevention/recycling, and propose a sustainable consumption and production action plan.

To keep implementation of the 6EAP on track and address new challenges effectively, the mid-term review makes clear the Commission will focus on:

  • Making international co-operation more effective in support of the EU’s global environmental policies, which should be one of the core objectives of EU external relations policy;
  • Improving policy integration and coherence by increasing the mutual support between environment policy and policies in other sectors, such as energy, transport, industrial policy, agriculture, fisheries, external relations and research;
  • Increasing the role of market-based instruments, in particular the use of taxation at EU and national levels to help meet environment policy goals. The Commission will work with Member States to encourage a shift in the burden of taxation from labour towards protecting the environment;
  • Improving the implementation and enforcement of existing legislation. A prerequisite for effective implementation is adequate levels of financial support, primarily at Member State level, but also from EU funds;
  • Improving the quality of environmental regulation, and applying the principles of Better Regulation to improve the effectiveness of environment policies;
  • Actively encouraging the development and deployment of environmental technologies and stepping up efforts to promote eco-efficient solutions and define common standards and benchmarks.

Environment Policy Review

The Environment Policy Review 2006 highlights the political prominence of the fight against climate change, with the Commission's tough approach to national allocation plans for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme clearly demonstrating commitment to reach the Kyoto Protocol targets. The Review also demonstrates progress in other policy areas, notably the adoption of the revised Sustainable Development Strategy, the new chemical regulation REACH, the last three thematic strategies (Urban Environment, Soil Protection and Pesticides) and policies to conserve biodiversity and natural resources.

Background

The mid-term review of the Sixth Community environment Action Programme is accompanied by an Impact Assessment and a comprehensive overview of the current state of the environment and achievements since 2002.

The Environment Policy Review is accompanied by an Annex that shows environmental trends and, for the first time, gives a snapshot of Member State initiatives undertaken in 2006.

The documents and more information can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/newprg/index.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/policyreview.htm


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