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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.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Industrial policy

28-06-2019

Through its industrial policy, the European Union (EU) has been striving to create conditions conducive to increasing industry growth and competitiveness since 1992. European industry remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing one job out of five, and is responsible for the bulk of EU exports and investment in research and innovation. Today, the aim of EU policy is to enable a successful transition towards digital, knowledge-based, decarbonised and more circular industry in Europe. To achieve ...

Through its industrial policy, the European Union (EU) has been striving to create conditions conducive to increasing industry growth and competitiveness since 1992. European industry remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing one job out of five, and is responsible for the bulk of EU exports and investment in research and innovation. Today, the aim of EU policy is to enable a successful transition towards digital, knowledge-based, decarbonised and more circular industry in Europe. To achieve this goal, the EU supports, coordinates and supplements Member State-level policies and actions, mainly in the areas of research and innovation, SMEs and digital technologies. In a Eurobarometer poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than half of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on industrial policy. Despite this, it is still the least understood policy area covered by the poll. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including investment (mainly through the European Fund for Strategic Investment, which supports industrial modernisation); digitalisation (for example setting up a number of research partnerships, or a growing network of digital innovation hubs); financing (making it easier for industry and SMEs to access public markets and attract venture funds); greener industry (for example through the revised 2030 emission targets, or measures on clean mobility); standardisation (bringing together relevant stakeholders to collectively develop and update European standards); and skills (mobilising key stakeholders to close the skills gap and providing an adequate workforce for modern industry). The European Parliament has called for ambitious policies in many of these areas. In the future, EU spending on key areas relevant to industrial policy is expected to rise moderately. The European Commission is proposing to boost the share of EU spending on research, SMEs and key infrastructure, although not as much as Parliament has requested. In the coming years, policies are likely to focus on seeking fairer global competition, stimulating innovation, building digital capacities and increasing the sustainability of European industry. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

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.

Environmental impact of the textile and clothing industry: What consumers need to know

17-01-2019

The amount of clothes bought in the EU per person has increased by 40 % in just a few decades, driven by a fall in prices and the increased speed with which fashion is delivered to consumers. Clothing accounts for between 2 % and 10 % of the environmental impact of EU consumption. This impact is often felt in third countries, as most production takes place abroad. The production of raw materials, spinning them into fibres, weaving fabrics and dyeing require enormous amounts of water and chemicals ...

The amount of clothes bought in the EU per person has increased by 40 % in just a few decades, driven by a fall in prices and the increased speed with which fashion is delivered to consumers. Clothing accounts for between 2 % and 10 % of the environmental impact of EU consumption. This impact is often felt in third countries, as most production takes place abroad. The production of raw materials, spinning them into fibres, weaving fabrics and dyeing require enormous amounts of water and chemicals, including pesticides for growing raw materials such as cotton. Consumer use also has a large environmental footprint due to the water, energy and chemicals used in washing, tumble drying and ironing, as well as to microplastics shed into the environment. Less than half of used clothes are collected for reuse or recycling when they are no longer needed, and only 1 % are recycled into new clothes, since technologies that would enable recycling clothes into virgin fibres are only starting to emerge. Various ways to address these issues have been proposed, including developing new business models for clothing rental, designing products in a way that would make re-use and recycling easier (circular fashion), convincing consumers to buy fewer clothes of better quality (slow fashion), and generally steering consumer behaviour towards choosing more sustainable options. In 2018, the EU adopted a circular economy package that will, at the insistence of the European Parliament, for the first time ensure that textiles are collected separately in all Member States, by 2025 at the latest. The European Parliament has for years advocated promoting the use of ecological and sustainable raw materials and the re-use and recycling of clothing.

Material use in the European Union: Towards a circular approach

11-09-2018

Global material use has tripled during the past four decades, in particular as a result of increasing living standards. The use of materials, which need to be extracted from our environment, can pose environmental challenges. It can also be threatened by resource scarcity and price volatility. This is particularly true for Europe, which is strongly dependent on imported materials. There are a number of ways to consider material use in the European Union (EU). The breakdown of material use by types ...

Global material use has tripled during the past four decades, in particular as a result of increasing living standards. The use of materials, which need to be extracted from our environment, can pose environmental challenges. It can also be threatened by resource scarcity and price volatility. This is particularly true for Europe, which is strongly dependent on imported materials. There are a number of ways to consider material use in the European Union (EU). The breakdown of material use by types of materials indicates that non-metallic minerals, which include sand and gravel, account for almost half of the materials used in the EU. Material flows provide an overall picture of how materials enter, are used and finally leave the economy. Some of these materials stay in stocks, which are growing year after year. However, the efficiency of material use, measured through resource productivity, has increased substantially since 2000, in part as a result of the economic crisis. Material use in the EU is steered by policies related to different areas such as energy, waste and industry. Relevant policy documents include the 2011 roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe, the 2013 seventh Environment Action Programme and the 2015 circular economy action plan. The EU supports these policies with funding. Funding channels include the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation, which allocated about €635 million between 2014 and 2020 for research on raw-material-related challenges. The European structural and investment funds also support developing more efficient material use practices. The European Parliament has advocated making the use of harmonised indicators for resource efficiency legally binding in the Member States and setting targets for increasing resource efficiency. Parliament has also supported broadening the scope of eco-design requirements to gradually include all relevant resource-efficiency features in product-design requirements.

Circular economy package: Four legislative proposals on waste

04-07-2018

Although waste management in the EU has improved considerably in recent decades, over a quarter of municipal waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted, with wide variations between Member States. Improving waste manage¬ment could deliver positive effects for the environment, climate, human health and the economy. As part of a shift towards a circular economy, the European Commission made four legislative proposals introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse ...

Although waste management in the EU has improved considerably in recent decades, over a quarter of municipal waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted, with wide variations between Member States. Improving waste manage¬ment could deliver positive effects for the environment, climate, human health and the economy. As part of a shift towards a circular economy, the European Commission made four legislative proposals introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse, recycling and landfilling, strengthening provisions on waste prevention and extended producer responsibility, and streamlining definitions, reporting obligations and calculation methods for targets. After completion of the legislative procedure, the final acts were signed on 30 May 2018. Member States are required to transpose the directives into national law by 5 July 2020. This updates an earlier edition, of March 2018: PE 614.766.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF), New York, 16 - 18 July 2018

28-06-2018

The SDGs framework has the potential to provide a useful overarching framework to further the debate on Europe's political priorities, with a view to pursuing social, economic and environmental sustainability both within the Union and globally. However, this requires increasing the political buy-in across sectors. There is a need to translate the SDGs into concrete sectoral political priorities, targets and actions for the EU, and to agree on a legitimate framework for delivering these priorities ...

The SDGs framework has the potential to provide a useful overarching framework to further the debate on Europe's political priorities, with a view to pursuing social, economic and environmental sustainability both within the Union and globally. However, this requires increasing the political buy-in across sectors. There is a need to translate the SDGs into concrete sectoral political priorities, targets and actions for the EU, and to agree on a legitimate framework for delivering these priorities across Member States. The July 2018 HLPF meeting constitutes a window of opportunity to assert influence on the implementation of SDGs in the EU, providing an opportunity to use a range of key current EU initiatives (e.g. the EU circular economy package, post-2020 biodiversity objectives and 2021 – 2027 EU budget) to advance the SDGs debate. In the global context, it will be important to promote linkages between the outcomes of the 2018 HLPF, the forthcoming Global Sustainable Development Report, and other global process of relevance to the environment, including the UNFCCC, the CBD, UNEA, as well as the newly launched negotiations for a global Pact for the Environment. There is a need to set the stage for environment to become more at the heart for the following HLPF, especially in terms of the 4-year stocktake in 2019.

Външен автор

Kettunen M, Charveriat C, Farmer A, Gionfra S, Schweitzer JP & Stainforth T, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)

Harnessing the potential of the Urban Agenda for the EU

27-06-2018

Our towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU's population, and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly. While the revised 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at inter-governmental level, accompanied by increasing calls to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in policymaking. To help ...

Our towns and cities are home to nearly three quarters of the EU's population, and most EU policies concern them, be it directly or indirectly. While the revised 2014-2020 cohesion policy framework introduced a number of new instruments intended to enhance the urban dimension of cohesion funding, a shared vision of urban development has gradually taken shape at inter-governmental level, accompanied by increasing calls to give city authorities and stakeholders a greater say in policymaking. To help guide these discussions, the European Commission launched a public consultation following its July 2014 communications on the urban dimension of EU policies. Its findings indicated broad support among city stakeholders for an Urban Agenda for the EU. The European Parliament also prepared an own-initiative report on the issue, as part of a process that would ultimately lead to the signing of the Pact of Amsterdam on 30 May 2016, a clear political commitment to deliver an Urban Agenda. With the pact providing for the creation of 12 urban partnerships focusing on key urban themes, all partnerships are now in operation. Developments such as improved coordination within the Commission on urban issues and new resources including a permanent secretariat have consolidated the Urban Agenda, yet challenges remain. The Commission's proposals for the cohesion framework post-2020, which include the creation of a European urban initiative to support the Urban Agenda, have the potential to further strengthen the Urban Agenda but these plans will be subject to tough negotiations in the months ahead. Ultimately, the success of the Urban Agenda will depend on the partnerships' ability to deliver concrete action plans and on the extent to which they are taken up by the Commission, a process requiring full commitment from all the partners. This Briefing is a further update of an earlier one originally published in June 2016, PE 614.595.

Circular economy: Four proposals on waste

11-04-2018

As part of a shift towards a circular economy, the European Commission put forward four legislative proposals intended to improve waste management in the European Union in 2015. First-reading negotiations with the Council delivered a compromise, which now awaits a vote in Parliament during the April plenary session.

As part of a shift towards a circular economy, the European Commission put forward four legislative proposals intended to improve waste management in the European Union in 2015. First-reading negotiations with the Council delivered a compromise, which now awaits a vote in Parliament during the April plenary session.

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).

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