82

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Environment action programme: Living well, within the limits of our planet

11-12-2018

The European Union (EU) has been protecting the environment since the early 1970s, under the premise that economic prosperity and environmental protection are interdependent. Successive environment action programmes have set the framework for EU environmental policy. The seventh environment action programme, a binding decision adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2013, covers the period from 2014 to 2020. Bearing the title 'Living well, within the limits of our planet', it seeks to achieve ...

The European Union (EU) has been protecting the environment since the early 1970s, under the premise that economic prosperity and environmental protection are interdependent. Successive environment action programmes have set the framework for EU environmental policy. The seventh environment action programme, a binding decision adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2013, covers the period from 2014 to 2020. Bearing the title 'Living well, within the limits of our planet', it seeks to achieve a 2050 vision for sustainability. The seventh environment action programme sets nine priority objectives: three 'thematic' objectives (on natural capital; on a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy; and on health and well-being), four 'enabling' objectives (on implementation of EU law; on the knowledge and evidence base; on investments and externalities; and on policy coherence), and two 'horizontal' objectives (on cities; and on the international dimension). The three thematic objectives are linked to a large number of initiatives, legislative acts and international agreements. A 2017 report by the European Environment Agency sums up progress towards meeting the three thematic objectives as follows: on natural capital, the EU is not on track to meet the 2020 objectives; on a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy, and on health and well-being, the 2020 outlook is mixed. The European Parliament is supportive of the action programme. In 2018, it urged the Commission and the Member States to step up its implementation. The European Commission is expected to publish its evaluation of the seventh environment action programme by mid-2019, and could subsequently put forward a proposal for an eighth environment action programme.

Single-use plastics and fishing gear: Reducing marine litter

28-11-2018

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. Both the European Parliament and the Council have adopted their position on the proposal. Interinstitutional trilogue negotiations started on 6 November 2018. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Marine litter: Single-use plastics and fishing gear

17-10-2018

Marine litter, most of which is plastic, is a major threat to marine and coastal biodiversity; it also has significant socio-economic impacts. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a legislative proposal on 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. The European Parliament is expected to adopt its position on the proposal during its October II plenary ...

Marine litter, most of which is plastic, is a major threat to marine and coastal biodiversity; it also has significant socio-economic impacts. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward a legislative proposal on 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. The European Parliament is expected to adopt its position on the proposal during its October II plenary session.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Environmental protection

05-10-2018

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.

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.

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.

Plastics in a circular economy

05-09-2018

Plastics are widely used across all sectors of the economy. However, the treatment of plastic waste poses several challenges. To address these, the Commission published a strategy for plastics in a circular economy in January 2018. The European Parliament is expected to adopt an own-initiative resolution on the communication during its September 2018 plenary session.

Plastics are widely used across all sectors of the economy. However, the treatment of plastic waste poses several challenges. To address these, the Commission published a strategy for plastics in a circular economy in January 2018. The European Parliament is expected to adopt an own-initiative resolution on the communication during its September 2018 plenary session.

Implementation of pesticides legislation

05-09-2018

Against the backdrop of ongoing controversy regarding the approval of glyphosate, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a report on the implementation of EU legislation on plant protection products in September.

Against the backdrop of ongoing controversy regarding the approval of glyphosate, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a report on the implementation of EU legislation on plant protection products in September.

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.

Motor vehicles: new approval and market surveillance rules

05-07-2018

The automotive industry is a major player in the European economy, accounting for 6.4% of gross domestic product and 2.3 million jobs in the European Union (EU). In September 2015, the Volkswagen (VW) case highlighted weaknesses in the implementation of type-approval rules for motor vehicles in the European Union, in particular as regards standards on emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide. In 2016, as part of preparations from previous years but also in response to the VW case, the European ...

The automotive industry is a major player in the European economy, accounting for 6.4% of gross domestic product and 2.3 million jobs in the European Union (EU). In September 2015, the Volkswagen (VW) case highlighted weaknesses in the implementation of type-approval rules for motor vehicles in the European Union, in particular as regards standards on emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide. In 2016, as part of preparations from previous years but also in response to the VW case, the European Commission proposed strengthening the type-approval system for motor vehicles. Its goal is to ensure effective enforcement of rules (including through market surveillance), to strengthen the quality and independence of technical tests and to introduce EU oversight on the type-approval process. After completion of the legislative procedure, the final act was signed on 30 May 2018. The regulation will apply from 1 September 2020.

Upcoming events

17-12-2018
Fact Finding Visit to Italy: 17 - 18 December 2018
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PETI
18-12-2018
What mattered in 2018 and why? What think tanks are thinking
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EPRS
08-01-2019
Table ronde autour du livre ‘Paul Collowald, pionnier d'une Europe à unir’
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EPRS

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