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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Environmental protection

28-06-2019

Through its environmental policy, the European Union (EU) has been improving Europeans' well-being since 1972. Today, the aim of EU environmental policy is to ensure that by 2050 we are living well, within the limits of the planet. To reach this goal, the EU is striving to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, to safeguard biodiversity and to protect human health through legislation on air quality, chemicals, climate, nature, waste and water. Although this policy is delivering concrete ...

Through its environmental policy, the European Union (EU) has been improving Europeans' well-being since 1972. Today, the aim of EU environmental policy is to ensure that by 2050 we are living well, within the limits of the planet. To reach this goal, the EU is striving to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, to safeguard biodiversity and to protect human health through legislation on air quality, chemicals, climate, nature, waste and water. Although this policy is delivering concrete benefits (such as a wide network of Natura 2000 protected areas, lower greenhouse gas emissions, increased resource recycling, and cleaner air and water), the outlook for the European environment 20 years from now shows a bleaker picture. Yet transitioning to sustainability could deliver a number of benefits beyond environmental protection, from jobs and economic activity to well-being and health. In a recent poll conducted for the European Parliament, three quarters of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on environmental protection. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including waste management (for example new recycling targets, restrictions on plastic carrier bags, action on plastics, measures to tackle marine litter); climate (for example the 2030 greenhouse gas emission targets, and measures to decarbonise the transport sector); nature (primarily to improve the way EU rules on biodiversity protection are implemented); and air quality (new rules on maximum amounts of five key air pollutants that EU countries can emit into the atmosphere). The European Parliament has advocated ambitious policies in many of these areas. In the future, EU environment and climate spending is expected to rise. The Commission is proposing to boost the share of EU spending contributing to climate objectives from 20 % to 25 %, while Parliament has called for this share to be set at 30 %. In the coming years, policies are expected to focus on climate action, nature protection, air quality, the circular economy and pesticides. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Boosting cooperation on health technology assessment

15-04-2019

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While ...

The European Commission has proposed a regulation on health technology assessment (HTA). HTA is a research-based tool that supports decision-making in healthcare by assessing the added value of a given health technology compared to others. The proposal would provide the basis for permanent EU-level cooperation in four areas. Member States would still be responsible for assessing the non-clinical (economic, ethical, social, etc.) aspects of health technology, and for pricing and reimbursement. While Member States could choose to delay participation in the joint work until three years after the rules enter into force, it would become mandatory after six years. Stakeholders have broadly welcomed the proposal. National parliaments, however, are divided in their appreciation of it. The Council has not yet agreed its position; technical discussions continue. Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on 13 September 2018, and the report was voted in plenary on 3 October. However, with interinstitutional trilogue negotiations unable to start, on the Council side, Parliament adopted its final position at first reading on 14 February 2019.

Revision of the Drinking Water Directive

15-04-2019

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive). The proposal responds to the European Citizens' Initiative, Right2Water, and builds on a fitness check which concluded that the 20-year old directive is fit for purpose, but needs updating. The main elements of the proposal consist of updating the water quality standards, introducing a risk-based approach to the monitoring ...

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive). The proposal responds to the European Citizens' Initiative, Right2Water, and builds on a fitness check which concluded that the 20-year old directive is fit for purpose, but needs updating. The main elements of the proposal consist of updating the water quality standards, introducing a risk-based approach to the monitoring of water, improving and streamlining the information provided to consumers, harmonising the standards for products in contact with drinking water, and imposing obligations to improve access to water. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 10 September 2018. A plenary vote on the amendments, and on opening interinstitutional negotiations, took place on 23 October 2018. Although the Council reached a general approach on 5 March 2019, the Parliament concluded its first reading in plenary on 28 March 2019. Trilogue negotiations in view of reaching an early-second reading agreement could thus begin in the new parliamentary term.

Climate change [What Think Tanks are thinking]

16-11-2018

World leaders are preparing for the ‘COP 24’ summit on tackling climate change in Katowice, Poland, in December, which is meant to debate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, a United Nations report has called for more measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gases: On 8 October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest findings, which indicate that limiting global warming to the 1.5˚C increase agreed in Paris would require rapid, far-reaching and ...

World leaders are preparing for the ‘COP 24’ summit on tackling climate change in Katowice, Poland, in December, which is meant to debate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, a United Nations report has called for more measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gases: On 8 October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest findings, which indicate that limiting global warming to the 1.5˚C increase agreed in Paris would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on climate talks and wider issues relating to climate change. Earlier publications on the issue can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking' published in November 2017.

Setting minimum requirements for water reuse

06-09-2018

The Commission proposal aims to increase the uptake of water reuse for agricultural irrigation. The supporting impact assessment (IA) is based on extensive data and analysis. The range of options, the scope and the analysis of impacts, and the stakeholder consultation seem to have been done in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines. However, the objectives set in the IA are not time-bound, nor measurable. Furthermore, proportionality of the options and the presentation of the problem could be ...

The Commission proposal aims to increase the uptake of water reuse for agricultural irrigation. The supporting impact assessment (IA) is based on extensive data and analysis. The range of options, the scope and the analysis of impacts, and the stakeholder consultation seem to have been done in line with the Better Regulation Guidelines. However, the objectives set in the IA are not time-bound, nor measurable. Furthermore, proportionality of the options and the presentation of the problem could be improved.

Water reuse: Setting minimum requirements

06-09-2018

Although freshwater is relatively abundant in the European Union (EU), water stress occurs in many areas, particularly in the Mediterranean region and parts of the Atlantic region, with environmental and economic impacts. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation setting EU-wide standards that reclaimed water would need to meet in order to be used for agricultural irrigation, with the aim of encouraging greater use of reclaimed water and contributing to alleviating ...

Although freshwater is relatively abundant in the European Union (EU), water stress occurs in many areas, particularly in the Mediterranean region and parts of the Atlantic region, with environmental and economic impacts. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a regulation setting EU-wide standards that reclaimed water would need to meet in order to be used for agricultural irrigation, with the aim of encouraging greater use of reclaimed water and contributing to alleviating water scarcity. The Commission estimates that the proposal could increase water reuse in agricultural irrigation from 1.7 billion m³ to 6.6 billion m³ per year, thereby reducing water stress by 5 %. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) is considering the proposal. The Environment Council discussed the proposal on 25 June 2018.

Air quality: Pollution sources and impacts, EU legislation and international agreements

10-07-2018

Outdoor air pollution is caused by the emission of harmful substances from natural sources and human activities. It has a number of adverse effects on human health and the environment, and subsequently on society and the economy. Air pollution can be transported or formed over long distances and can affect large areas. Effective air quality policies require action and cooperation beyond the local and national levels, on a European and global scale. This publication presents key air pollutants, lists ...

Outdoor air pollution is caused by the emission of harmful substances from natural sources and human activities. It has a number of adverse effects on human health and the environment, and subsequently on society and the economy. Air pollution can be transported or formed over long distances and can affect large areas. Effective air quality policies require action and cooperation beyond the local and national levels, on a European and global scale. This publication presents key air pollutants, lists natural sources of air pollution, and details emissions from human activities by sector. It describes adverse effects on human health, the environment and the climate, as well as socio-economic impacts. In addition, it provides an overview of international agreements and European Union legislation setting air quality standards, lowering national emissions of pollutants, and reducing emissions of pollutants at specific sources. Furthermore, this publication briefly describes the state of implementation of key EU legislation related to air quality. Finally, it reflects the position of the European Parliament and stakeholders on the policy area.

Strengthening EU cooperation on health technology assessment

18-06-2018

The impact assessment (IA) accompanying the Commission proposal on strengthening EU cooperation on Health Technology Assessment clearly defines the problem, as well as the general and specific objectives. However, the IA does not appear to have succeeded in presenting a very convincing range of options. The analysis of impacts focuses on the economic dimension, which is consistent with the manner in which the problems have been defined. In light of the reported concentration of SMEs in the medical ...

The impact assessment (IA) accompanying the Commission proposal on strengthening EU cooperation on Health Technology Assessment clearly defines the problem, as well as the general and specific objectives. However, the IA does not appear to have succeeded in presenting a very convincing range of options. The analysis of impacts focuses on the economic dimension, which is consistent with the manner in which the problems have been defined. In light of the reported concentration of SMEs in the medical technologies sector (95 %), more emphasis could have been put on analysing the impacts of the retained options on them. The stakeholders' views have been illustrated in a satisfactory way. The evidence included or referenced in the IA is copious and up to date. The IA appears to have addressed most of the RSB's recommendations. Finally, the legislative proposal appears to be consistent with the analysis carried out in the IA.

Revision of the drinking water directive

27-03-2018

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, submitted on 1 February 2018 and referred to the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, submitted on 1 February 2018 and referred to the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Waste Management in Europe: Main Problems Identified in EU Petitions and Best Practices (updated version)

13-03-2018

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the PETI Committee examines the application and proper transposition of European environmental law on waste by Member States, that is one of the recurrent topics addressed by the Committee on Petitions, which collects complaints from citizens in this matter and call for respect of the rule of law. Waste management concerns all activities and actions that are required ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the PETI Committee examines the application and proper transposition of European environmental law on waste by Member States, that is one of the recurrent topics addressed by the Committee on Petitions, which collects complaints from citizens in this matter and call for respect of the rule of law. Waste management concerns all activities and actions that are required to manage waste, from its generation to its final disposal. This includes the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation. This study is an updated version of the previous research from 2011. Based on the results from 2011, new petitions from 2013 to 2016 were analysed with the aim to update the main findings and recommendations on the crucial areas of complaints. The results of the recently carried out assessment show that most of the analysed petitions still relate to deficits in the waste management system, the operating of existing installations (mainly landfills) and the permitting procedure for new facilities. In addition, two petitions address the improper management of radioactive waste which constitutes a new area of complaint (EURATOM Treaty) compared to the analysis in 2011. For all the main areas covered, best practice examples and recommendations for better approaches in future were updated and reviewed.

Външен автор

Martin GIERSCH; Francesca MONTEVECCHI; Christian NEUBAUER; Umweltbundesamt GmbH

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