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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 fertilising products

26-06-2019

Fertilising products are used to improve plant growth, mainly in agriculture, enabling higher crop yields. However, they are associated with some challenges as regards security of supply, the environment and health. Although the 2003 Fertilisers Regulation, which aimed at ensuring an internal market in fertilisers, has been effective, it mainly addresses mineral fertilisers and deters the introduction of new types of fertilisers. In March 2016, the Commission put forward a legislative proposal on ...

Fertilising products are used to improve plant growth, mainly in agriculture, enabling higher crop yields. However, they are associated with some challenges as regards security of supply, the environment and health. Although the 2003 Fertilisers Regulation, which aimed at ensuring an internal market in fertilisers, has been effective, it mainly addresses mineral fertilisers and deters the introduction of new types of fertilisers. In March 2016, the Commission put forward a legislative proposal on fertilising products, as announced in the circular economy action plan. The proposal modernises the conformity assessment and market surveillance in line with the ‘new legislative framework’ for product legislation, covers a wider range of fertilising products (including those manufactured from secondary raw materials), and sets limits for the presence of heavy metals and contaminants in fertilising products. After completion of the legislative procedure, the final act was signed on 5 June 2019. The regulation will apply in full from 16 July 2022. Fifth edition of a briefing originally drafted by Didier Bourguignon. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

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.

Reducing marine litter from plastics

20-03-2019

In May 2018, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal to tackle marine litter, targeting the top ten single-use plastic items found on European beaches as well as fishing gear, which together make up about 70 % of marine beach litter items in Europe. Interinstitutional negotiations with the Council delivered an agreement in December 2018, on which Parliament is expected to vote during its March II plenary session.

In May 2018, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal to tackle marine litter, targeting the top ten single-use plastic items found on European beaches as well as fishing gear, which together make up about 70 % of marine beach litter items in Europe. Interinstitutional negotiations with the Council delivered an agreement in December 2018, on which Parliament is expected to vote during its March II plenary session.

CE-marked fertilising products

20-03-2019

In March 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal on fertilising products, which would extend the scope of existing legislation, notably to cover organic and waste-based fertilisers, and set limits on heavy metals and contaminants in fertilising products. At its March II 2019 plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on the agreement reached on the file after trilogue negotiations.

In March 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal on fertilising products, which would extend the scope of existing legislation, notably to cover organic and waste-based fertilisers, and set limits on heavy metals and contaminants in fertilising products. At its March II 2019 plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on the agreement reached on the file after trilogue negotiations.

European territorial cooperation (Interreg) 2021-2027

11-01-2019

On 29 May 2018, the European Commission adopted several proposals aimed at defining the architecture of EU cohesion policy for the post-2020 programming period. The package includes a proposal for the new generation of European territorial cooperation (ETC) programmes, commonly referred to as 'Interreg'. The proposed regulation would bring significant changes to the current architecture of ETC, with the reshaping of the three traditional cooperation strands (i.e. crossborder, transnational and interregional ...

On 29 May 2018, the European Commission adopted several proposals aimed at defining the architecture of EU cohesion policy for the post-2020 programming period. The package includes a proposal for the new generation of European territorial cooperation (ETC) programmes, commonly referred to as 'Interreg'. The proposed regulation would bring significant changes to the current architecture of ETC, with the reshaping of the three traditional cooperation strands (i.e. crossborder, transnational and interregional cooperation) and the creation of two new components, one dedicated to outermost regions, the other to interregional cooperation on innovation. Another major novelty is the incorporation of cooperation with countries other than EU Member States. The proposal is being examined simultaneously by the Council and the European Parliament. In Parliament, the Committee on Regional Development (REGI), responsible for the file, adopted its report on 3 December 2018. It is scheduled for a vote during the January I plenary session, with a view to fixing Parliament’s position for negotiations with the Council. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

EYE event - Sport without corruption

16-05-2018

Played and watched by billions of people across the globe, sport embodies specific values, such as fair play and respect for the rules. Corruption scandals such as those that have made headlines in recent years, be it in football or athletics, seriously tarnish its image, shaking public trust.

Played and watched by billions of people across the globe, sport embodies specific values, such as fair play and respect for the rules. Corruption scandals such as those that have made headlines in recent years, be it in football or athletics, seriously tarnish its image, shaking public trust.

EYE event - Sustainable city: Global picture, local colour

16-05-2018

Cities, home to most of the world's people and growing rapidly, are often where environmental problems both emerge and are resolved; they are where the fight for global sustainability will be won or lost.

Cities, home to most of the world's people and growing rapidly, are often where environmental problems both emerge and are resolved; they are where the fight for global sustainability will be won or lost.

Cities: Front line of climate action

16-02-2018

Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate change challenge and delivering on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In the European Union (EU), where nearly three quarters of the population live in urban areas, many cities are leading the way in this regard, taking action in three areas central to increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions – namely, buildings, energy supply, and transport – and acting as living laboratories of climate-change-related innovation. The EU supports ...

Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate change challenge and delivering on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In the European Union (EU), where nearly three quarters of the population live in urban areas, many cities are leading the way in this regard, taking action in three areas central to increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions – namely, buildings, energy supply, and transport – and acting as living laboratories of climate-change-related innovation. The EU supports cities in their efforts by providing guidance, promoting experience-and knowledge-sharing, fostering cooperation, and funding climate action. Climate-relevant initiatives are in place in various policy fields, from transport to the environment, research and innovation, the most high-profile being the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which currently counts over 7 700 signatories. A supportive framework is essential to ensure city-level initiatives have enough resources and potential to effect meaningful change. Easing access to climate funding and strengthening the role of cities in climate governance are among the main challenges ahead, and the main demands of city associations. The latter issue is currently in the spotlight, notably in relation to the proposal for a regulation on energy union governance, part of the EU clean energy package. The European Parliament adopted amendments to the proposed regulation in January 2018. The role of EU regions and cities in implementing the Paris Agreement is also the subject of an own-initiative report, scheduled for debate during the March plenary session. This briefing is an update of an earlier one published in October 2017.

Cities: Front line of climate action

05-10-2017

Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate change challenge and delivering on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In the European Union (EU), where nearly three quarters of the population live in urban areas, many cities are leading the way in this regard, taking action in three areas central to increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions – namely, buildings, energy supply, and transport – and acting as living laboratories of climate-change-related innovation. The EU supports ...

Cities have a crucial role to play in addressing the climate change challenge and delivering on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. In the European Union (EU), where nearly three quarters of the population live in urban areas, many cities are leading the way in this regard, taking action in three areas central to increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions – namely, buildings, energy supply, and transport – and acting as living laboratories of climate-change-related innovation. The EU supports cities in their efforts by providing guidance, promoting experience-and knowledge-sharing, fostering cooperation, and funding climate action. Climate-relevant initiatives are in place in various policy fields, from transport to the environment, research and innovation, the most high profile being the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which currently counts some 7 600 signatories. A supportive framework is essential to ensure city-level initiatives have enough resources and potential to effect meaningful change. Easing access to climate funding and strengthening the role of cities in climate governance are among the main challenges ahead, and the main demands of city associations. The latter issue is being examined by the European Parliament, notably in relation to the proposal for a regulation on energy union governance. Two own-initiative reports exploring the role cities play, first, in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and, second, in the institutional framework of the Union, are also under preparation.

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