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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.

Single-use plastics and fishing gear: Reducing marine litter

17-06-2019

Most of the plastic in our oceans originates from land-based sources. On European beaches, plastics make up 80-85 % of marine litter, which is considered a major threat to marine and coastal biodiversity. Marine litter also costs the European Union economy an estimated €259 million to €695 million per year. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a legislative proposal seeking to address the issue of marine litter from plastics. The proposal would introduce a series of measures regarding ...

Most of the plastic in our oceans originates from land-based sources. On European beaches, plastics make up 80-85 % of marine litter, which is considered a major threat to marine and coastal biodiversity. Marine litter also costs the European Union economy an estimated €259 million to €695 million per year. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a legislative proposal seeking to address the issue of marine litter from plastics. The proposal would introduce a series of measures regarding the top 10 single-use plastics found on European beaches, as well as fishing gear, with a view to reducing their impact on the environment and ensuring a functional internal market. After completion of the legislative procedure, the final act was signed by the presidents of the co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) on 5 June 2019, and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 12 June 2019. Member States have two years (i.e. until 3 July 2021) to transpose the new directive into national law. Fourth edition of a briefing originally drafted by Didier Bourguignon. document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Marine litter: single-use plastics and fishing gear

09-07-2018

The Commission proposal aims to reduce the environmental harm from single-use plastics and fishing gear. The supporting impact assessment (IA) does not discuss the impacts on innovation, research and development or the feasibility for businesses to invest into alternative materials. The IA only briefly touches upon the implications for SMEs and does not explain why the open public consultation ran for 8 weeks instead of the 12 weeks. Finally, the proposal misses certain measures foreseen under the ...

The Commission proposal aims to reduce the environmental harm from single-use plastics and fishing gear. The supporting impact assessment (IA) does not discuss the impacts on innovation, research and development or the feasibility for businesses to invest into alternative materials. The IA only briefly touches upon the implications for SMEs and does not explain why the open public consultation ran for 8 weeks instead of the 12 weeks. Finally, the proposal misses certain measures foreseen under the preferred option and contains measures not foreseen in the IA.

Environmental Reporting Initiative: Implementation Appraisal

17-05-2018

Member States' success in implementing environmental legislation can be measured through the information they send to the European Commission (reporting), which is based on the control activities they carry out (monitoring). In its 2018 work programme, the European Commission announced its intention to streamline requirements in this area, as a follow-up to a Fitness Check on Environmental Monitoring and Reporting (finalised in June 2017).

Member States' success in implementing environmental legislation can be measured through the information they send to the European Commission (reporting), which is based on the control activities they carry out (monitoring). In its 2018 work programme, the European Commission announced its intention to streamline requirements in this area, as a follow-up to a Fitness Check on Environmental Monitoring and Reporting (finalised in June 2017).

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, April 2018

20-04-2018

The April plenary session's highlight was the debate on the future of Europe with the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, detailing his ambitions for a reinvigorated Europe, ready to face existing and emerging challenges. Members also heard from the European Council and Commission Presidents on the outcome of the March European Council meeting. High Representative Federica Mogherini made statements on the UN global compacts for migration and refugees, Syria, Russia, the situation in ...

The April plenary session's highlight was the debate on the future of Europe with the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, detailing his ambitions for a reinvigorated Europe, ready to face existing and emerging challenges. Members also heard from the European Council and Commission Presidents on the outcome of the March European Council meeting. High Representative Federica Mogherini made statements on the UN global compacts for migration and refugees, Syria, Russia, the situation in the Korean peninsula and of Greek soldiers arrested in Turkey. Parliament adopted, inter alia, legislative resolutions on greenhouse gas emissions, the circular economy, European political parties and foundations, anti-money-laundering, market surveillance of motor vehicles, and organic production and labelling. Members granted discharge for the execution of the 2016 budget to the European Commission and all EU institutions and agencies, except the Council/European Council and European Asylum Support Office.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - April 2018

16-04-2018

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

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.

Port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships

22-03-2018

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) (consisting of part 1 and part 2), accompanying the above-mentioned proposal, submitted on 16 January 2018 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism. Ship-generated waste, such as oily waste, sewage and garbage, poses a significant threat to the marine environment (IA part 1, p.3). The current legal framework laying down the rules applicable to ship-generated ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) (consisting of part 1 and part 2), accompanying the above-mentioned proposal, submitted on 16 January 2018 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism. Ship-generated waste, such as oily waste, sewage and garbage, poses a significant threat to the marine environment (IA part 1, p.3). The current legal framework laying down the rules applicable to ship-generated waste is Directive 2000/59/EC (hereafter referred to as 'the directive'). The directive is based on the provisions of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (the MARPOL Convention), which was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)) and regulates discharges at sea. The directive strengthens the regime established under MARPOL through a port-based approach, focusing on operations in ports, including 1) development of waste reception and handling plans in ports; 2) advance notification of waste by ships before entry into port; 3) mandatory delivery of ship-generated waste; 4) payment of fees by ships for the reception of their ship-generated waste; 5) exemptions for ships engaged in scheduled traffic; 6) inspections to verify compliance with the delivery requirements; and 7) development of an information and monitoring system.

Περιβαλλοντική πολιτική: γενικές αρχές και βασικό πλαίσιο

01-02-2018

Η ευρωπαϊκή περιβαλλοντική πολιτική βασίζεται στις αρχές της προφύλαξης, της πρόληψης και της επανόρθωσης των καταστροφών του περιβάλλοντος στην πηγή, καθώς και στην αρχή «ο ρυπαίνων πληρώνει». Τα πολυετή προγράμματα περιβαλλοντικής δράσης ορίζουν το πλαίσιο των μελλοντικών ενεργειών σε όλους τους τομείς της περιβαλλοντικής πολιτικής. Είναι ενσωματωμένα σε οριζόντιες στρατηγικές και λαμβάνονται υπόψη στις διεθνείς περιβαλλοντικές διαπραγματεύσεις. Τέλος, εξίσου καίριας σημασίας είναι η εφαρμογή τους ...

Η ευρωπαϊκή περιβαλλοντική πολιτική βασίζεται στις αρχές της προφύλαξης, της πρόληψης και της επανόρθωσης των καταστροφών του περιβάλλοντος στην πηγή, καθώς και στην αρχή «ο ρυπαίνων πληρώνει». Τα πολυετή προγράμματα περιβαλλοντικής δράσης ορίζουν το πλαίσιο των μελλοντικών ενεργειών σε όλους τους τομείς της περιβαλλοντικής πολιτικής. Είναι ενσωματωμένα σε οριζόντιες στρατηγικές και λαμβάνονται υπόψη στις διεθνείς περιβαλλοντικές διαπραγματεύσεις. Τέλος, εξίσου καίριας σημασίας είναι η εφαρμογή τους.

Chemicals and the circular economy: Dealing with substances of concern

02-10-2017

Unlike the traditional linear economic model based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, the circular economy is an economic model based on sharing, leasing, reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling, in an (almost) closed loop. One of the challenges associated with this model is the presence of substances of concern in products, which risk being passed on to waste and subsequently recycled. A large number of European Union (EU) legal acts are relevant to the theme of substances of concern ...

Unlike the traditional linear economic model based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, the circular economy is an economic model based on sharing, leasing, reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling, in an (almost) closed loop. One of the challenges associated with this model is the presence of substances of concern in products, which risk being passed on to waste and subsequently recycled. A large number of European Union (EU) legal acts are relevant to the theme of substances of concern in material cycles. They relate to three broad areas: chemicals, products and waste. The European Commission is expected to publish a communication on the interface between these policy areas by the end of 2017. The main challenge in relation to chemicals and the circular economy is increasing recycling and reuse, while making sure consumers are not at risk from exposure to substances of concern that may be present in products and passed on to waste. More specific challenges relate, among other things, to long-term exposure, lack of information, trade aspects and implementation of EU law. Increased policy coherence in the current regulatory framework could help the situation. More specifically, elements of possible remedies include: disseminating information about the presence of substances of concern in products, reducing and substituting them, and improving the management of substances of concern that cannot be substituted. However, there may be some difficulties in implementing these solutions, in particular regarding the administrative burden and costs. The European Parliament supports the development of non-toxic material cycles so that recycled waste can be used as a major, reliable source of raw materials. Stakeholders' views on the topic are mixed.

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