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Environment: Policy Review shows need to address the challenge of resource efficiency

European Commission - IP/10/1047   10/08/2010

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/10/1047

Brussels, 10 August 2010

Environment: Policy Review shows need to address the challenge of resource efficiency

Today the 2009 Environment Policy Review was published. It reports on EU policy developments from last year and looks in detail at EU and Member States' environmental trends and policy performance.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The 2009 Environment Policy Review shows that Member States adopted and implemented a variety of environmental policy measures. It gives interesting examples of how environmental objectives can be integrated into other policy areas. Nevertheless, a number of data and trends remain worrying. I see a clear need to sustain the momentum for promoting green growth and for further EU and national policy measures to make Europe more resource efficient".

The Environment Policy Review details EU policy developments under the four priorities of the 6th Environment Action Programme, namely Climate change, Nature and biodiversity, Environment and health and Natural resources and waste. It also indicates key issues for 2010 and the coming years.

As a cross-cutting issue, the Review shows that Member States included many green initiatives in their economic recovery plans, seeking to move towards a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy. The Europe 2020 strategy, which was proposed by the Commission in 2009 and formally adopted by the European Council in June 2010, supports this shift to a resource efficient Europe.

The Review also provides an overview of environmental data and trends under the priority areas of the 6th Environmental Action Programme. Although progress is evident in some environmental areas, further efforts are needed in many others, in particular concerning the loss of biodiversity. The country profiles in the third part show the diversity of policy initiatives being taken in the Member States to tackle the different environmental challenges.

Background

Policy developments in the priority areas of the 6th EAP

Climate change

Within the EU, 2009 was a year during which efforts to mitigate climate change were consolidated and where the Climate and Energy package was formally adopted. Internationally, although the achievements of United Nations Conference on climate change in Copenhagen fell short of the EU's goals, the resulting Copenhagen Accord, which agrees to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, is a step in the right direction.

Nature and biodiversity

The need for using ecosystem and biodiversity services efficiently was underlined by the findings of the 2009 report of 'The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity' which showed that investing in protecting ecosystems makes economic sense. The biodiversity picture, both in the EU and globally, shows worrying trends. Effective protection of nature and biodiversity requires measures to be taken at an international level. Thus in 2009 the European Union actively supported global initiatives such as the establishment of an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services. The coming years will test the credibility and efficiency of EU and global policy-making in the area of biodiversity.

Health and environment

A clean and healthy environment is essential for human well-being. To limit environmental threats to human health, the EU continued to take action and to make progress in various fields during 2009, such as the implementation of the REACH chemicals legislation and the Water Framework Directive and the agreement reached on the Industrial Emissions Directive.

Waste and Natural Resources

Current patterns of consumption and production are leading to the depletion of natural resources, while also causing serious environmental pressures. Further to the existing set of policies in order to move towards a more sustainable consumption and production and better waste management, the Commission launched in 2009 the Retail Forum which aims to improve the understanding of the practical measures needed.

The Annual Environment Policy Review is a report designed to monitor recent environmental trends and policy developments at EU and national level and the progress towards the EU’s key environmental goals. This year's Review is the 7th edition.

The 2009 version of the European Policy Review can be found here:

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


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