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IP/09/1188

Brussels, 24 July 2009

Commission takes stock of progress on sustainable development

In recent years the EU has mainstreamed sustainable development into a broad range of its policies. In particular, the EU has taken the lead in the fight against climate change and the promotion of a low-carbon economy. At the same time, unsustainable trends persist in the EU in several areas and the efforts need to be intensified. Three years into the implementation of the EU's Sustainable Development Strategy the Commission has taken stock of developments at EU level and launched a reflection on how the EU strategy could be taken into the future.

Commission President, José Manuel Barroso said, "We have made solid progress on integrating sustainable development into EU policy areas. This review highlights the progress we have made over the last three years and the areas where further work is needed. The economic crisis creates a unique opportunity to create a new sustainable economy through smart green growth. I hope this review will stimulate reflection on how best to make progress on areas like energy consumption in the transport area, declining biodiversity and degradation of our ecosystem".

The review confirms that positive EU policy progress has been made in all seven priority areas covered by the Strategy. Examples include t he EU's climate and energy package of December 2008, actions for greening of transport and more intelligent transport systems, improvement of energy efficiency of buildings, revisions of eco-design and eco-label directives, setting up an integrated maritime policy framework and EU health strategy, work on migration and fight against poverty and exclusion. Also work on the cross-cutting areas education, research and financing progressed. However, unsustainable trends persist in several areas. For example, demand on natural resources is growing, biodiversity is in decline and energy consumption of transport continues to rise.

The current economic and financial crisis has shown that sustainability is also a key factor for the financial systems and the economy as a whole. Measures to support the real economy and to reduce the social impact of the current crisis must be compatible with long-term sustainability goals and a strategy of green, smart growth.

The review invites a reflection on how the EU Sustainable Development Strategy could evolve in the future. Greater alignment with the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs and other cross-cutting EU strategies, further streamlining of the Strategy and better monitoring and coordination are examples of points that could be considered.

The Report adopted today will allow the European Council to review priorities and to provide orientations for the future of the Strategy at its next meeting in December.

The Report will be complemented by Eurostat's bi-annual monitoring report on sustainable development which will be published later in 2009.

Background

The renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy, adopted in June 2006, addresses seven main challenges: climate change and clean energy; sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production; conservation and management of natural resources; public health; social inclusion, demography and migration and global poverty. The December 2007 European Council asked the Commission to provide a second progress report on the European sustainable development strategy by June 2009. This review is in response to the request of the European Council.

The Report can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/sustainable/welcome/index_en.htm


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