EU PROTECTS > Our Environment

Our Environment

Protecting our environment for future generations is one of the major challenges of our time. The number of endangered plant and animal species is rising, industrial emissions are affecting the air we breathe, and the amount of plastic polluting our seas continues to grow. To turn the tide and preserve our natural world for tomorrow, Europe is taking action today.

People from across the EU are together taking a stand in support of our environment. From improving the health of our seas to helping each other during forest fires, meet Europe’s environmental heroes and discover how the EU enables them to work together.

Marine litter

“Diving is my passion. But it’s hard to ignore the straws, bottles and cups. On the beach, in the water – I have the feeling that plastic is everywhere.”

Paula Rueda

Changing tides: How the EU is helping combat plastic waste

Plastic bags, bottles, toys, containers – if they are not swept back onto shore or into fishing nets, these plastics gradually break up in the water, are consumed by fish, and eventually find their way into our food. Meet the fishermen, businesses and scientists working side by side to reduce marine litter at the source and to protect future generations.

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Reducing pollution

“With the help of EU funding we replaced our old, polluting coal heater with a new and improved boiler.”

Grzegorz Horwacik

The burning issue: How the EU is helping fight deadly air pollution in Poland

In southern Poland, the EU is funding the replacement of more than 500,000 polluting coal-fired stoves in households. The new boilers – which cut smog-creating pollutants – are one example of how the EU is helping to improve air quality throughout Europe.

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Preserving the natural world

“By learning about river wildlife, my students are better prepared to take care of our planet for current and future generations.”

Julie Himmelbauer

Saving the sturgeon: How the EU is conserving nature and supporting locals in the Danube

Sturgeon populations in the Danube river have been dropping over the past 50 years. The loss of this ancient fish would have serious consequences for the health of the river and the Danube’s fishing communities alike. Learn about the ordinary heroes working to protect the sturgeon habitat, the animals and communities that depend on it.


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Preserving the natural world

“Sea turtle conservation is about preserving this endangered species and its critical role in the healthy marine ecosystems we all depend on.”


A safety net for sea turtles: How the EU is helping protect our marine ecosystems

Sea turtles have inhabited Earth for around 100 million years and are vital to the health of our seas. The EU is supporting researchers from across the continent to track their movements and protect creatures that are increasingly under threat.

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Did you know?


of the EU’s total land area – and 6% of its marine territory – is protected through the Natura 2000 scheme, ensuring the long-term survival of the species and habitats that are under threat in Europe


The total cost of natural disasters caused by weather and climate-related extremes such as droughts, storms, floods and heatwaves in EU Member States between 1980 and 2016


the decrease in sulphur oxide emissions in the EU between 1990 and 2016


of all bathing sites in the EU have ‘excellent’ water quality


The effort to preserve our natural environment requires everyone to do their bit. But did you know that people in your country are playing key roles in protecting the Europe of tomorrow?