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PE 612.036v02-00 A8-0059/2018

on the implementation of the 7th Environment Action Programme


Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Rapporteur: Daciana Octavia Sârbu




The 7th Environment Action Programme (“7th EAP”) sets out binding objectives for the European Union and its Member States to achieve in the field of environment by 2020.

This report assesses the implementation of the 7th EAP so far and the likelihood of achieving the Programme’s objectives by 2020. It offers recommendations for improved implementation and suggestions for any future EAP.

Key findings(1)

The scope of the “7th EAP” is relevant to current needs in the field of environment. The Programme has a moderate influence on environment and climate policies and provides strategic guidance at both EU and Member State level. It helps to establish coherence between different policies as well as long-term vision.

Progress towards the objectives of the 7th EAP is mixed, and there is considerable uncertainty as to whether the 2020 objectives will be achieved. Notwithstanding this uncertainty and the limitations of various indicators, the outlook suggests that most sub-objectives under objective 1 (natural capital) will not be met. The prospects for achieving good results in objective 2 (low carbon economy and resource efficiency) are much better. The outlook for objective 3 (risks to health and well-being) is difficult to assess because of a lack of data.

Although there is general coherence between the 7th EAP and other high level EU policy instruments, there are some important exceptions. In particular, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was regularly identified as lacking coherence with the 7th EAP.

The level of funding available for 7th EAP actions is considered to be inadequate, although this is more of a problem at Member State than EU level. There are considerable difficulties in securing investment for environment and climate policy, although at EU level this is often the result of poorly administered funds rather than a lack of money.

The 7th EAP was widely considered by stakeholders to provide EU added value, and to have a positive impact on citizens, nature and - albeit to a lesser extent - on economic actors.

There is strong support among stakeholders for an 8th EAP. Paradoxically, although many suggestions have been put forward for new sub-objectives in a future EAP, stakeholders also considered that such a programme should be simpler and more focussed than the existing one. More and better indicators would improve monitoring and feedback.

•  Priority objective 1: to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital

This is the one of the most problematic objectives in terms of implementation. Despite positive past trends in some areas, indicators suggest that very few 2020 sub objectives will be met. Biodiversity loss and the poor implementation of the Birds & Habitats Directives are repeatedly identified as major obstacles to achieving the EAP’s objectives. EU funds are not well mobilised to support the management of the Natura 2000 network, and establishing the marine sites is particularly problematic. The use of Europe’s seas remains unsustainable.

•  Priority objective 2: to turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy

There are encouraging past trends in relation to resource efficiency and the low carbon economy, although in the latter case this is partly a result of reduced production during the economic crisis. The transport sector is least likely to reduce carbon emissions by 2020. Waste management is the most problematic issue as regards implementation in this objective, although past trends show slight improvements in waste reduction and recycling. The EU is not yet contributing sufficiently to combatting the global problem of food waste, and the absence of a definition of food waste and a baseline from which to measure the problem remain obstacles to progress. It is unclear whether all sub-objectives will be met by 2020.

•  Priority objective 3: to safeguard the Union’s citizens from environmental-related pressures and risks to health and well-being.

The failure to implement air quality legislation in urban areas is particularly worrying given that air pollution continues to be the number one environmental cause of death in the EU. Some positive past trends are reported with regard to sulphur oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, ammonia and particulate matter, although reduction of nitrogen oxides has been compromised by the difference between estimated emissions and real driving emissions from diesel vehicles. Levels of ammonia remain stable despite technical measures being available to reduce them. Residential combustion of fossil fuels and transport are the main sources of particulate matter. Although the EU is unlikely to meet its own air quality standards in urban areas by 2020, it is likely to meet international obligations under the Gothenburg Protocol(2). Exposure to environmental noise remains high, and achieving the 2020 sub-objective is unlikely. It is not known whether the EU will achieve its objectives to measure and reduce exposure to chemicals harmful to health and the environment, and to ensure sustainable use of pesticides. Significant progress has been made towards cleaner bathing water and the 2020 targets are expected to be met.

•  Priority objective 4: to maximise the benefits of Union environment legislation by improving implementation

The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) provides detailed country reports and identifies implementation problems common to many or all Member States. It also describes the root causes of common problems, including ineffective coordination between authorities in Member States, a lack of administrative capacity and financing, and policy incoherence. The EIR did identify some areas where implementation has improved, notably bathing and drinking water.

The EIR an ongoing process which includes working with the Member States to improve implementation. It is an important opportunity to make progress on key issues such as air quality, noise pollution, water management, waste management and biodiversity. The EIR has been criticised by some stakeholders for only including the Commission and Member States and not civil society actors.

•  Priority objective 5: to improve the knowledge and evidence base for Union environment policy

The knowledge base is improving in the following areas: the impacts of climate change and species loss on ecosystem services; endocrine disrupters; some of the health and environmental implications of chemicals; the cost-effectiveness of climate change adaptation methods; and nature-based solutions for urban development. Important gaps remain around environmental thresholds (tipping points), the circular economy paradigm, the combined effects of chemicals, nano-materials, hazard identification methods, micro plastics impacts, and the interaction between systemic risks and other health determinants.

Many stakeholders report that available knowledge is not being used by policy makers or being transferred to actors responsible for implementation. Affected areas include: food consumption and waste; endocrine disrupters; bioenergy; the CAP; energy and climate targets; urban planning and design; and impacts of consumption patterns. A lack of political will sometimes prevents the incorporation of knowledge into policy, although regulatory barriers and a lack of resources are also relevant factors.

A number of indicators used to track progress towards the EAP’s objectives suffer from limitations and prevent a full analysis of the situation. More and better indicators should be a feature of any future EAP in order to improve monitoring and implementation.

•  Priority objective 6: to secure investment for environment and climate policy and address environmental externalities

Through a series of special reports, the European Court of Auditors identified multiple problems with the implementation of this objective. EU funding has not achieved the desired results in the following areas: securing ETS market integrity; promoting environmental sustainability of aquaculture and agriculture; improving urban waste water treatment; promoting water ways and rail freight; and supporting the Natura 2000 network. In the cases of cross compliance with the CAP and benefits from investment in biodiversity, it was not possible to make an assessment. In some cases, the implementation of objectives 1 and 2 is being undermined by poorly administered financing rather than a lack of money. Conversely, improvements in drinking water quality (objective 2) were attributed to sound investment of EU funds and further progress was prevented by a lack of financing.

•  Priority objective 7: to improve environmental integration and policy coherence

Although there is general coherence between other policies and the EAP, there are some notable exceptions. The CAP presents a particular challenge. Intensive agriculture, encouraged by the CAP, has not reduced pressures on natural capital. Rather, it has increased the chemical burden on health and the environment and depleted the resources on which agriculture depends, as well as obstructing the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and Biodiversity Strategy. Greening initiatives are not thought to have brought sufficient benefits.

In the past, cohesion policy has supported infrastructure projects which have been environmentally damaging, but recent improvements are changing this. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), previously seen as incoherent with EAP objectives, has been improved but will need to be better implemented to realise its potential. TEN-T was identified as posing a challenge in regards to objective 2 (resource efficiency and climate change).

Several Member States have not ratified international agreements which are linked to objectives of the EAP, which implies some incoherence with national policies. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are mainly considered to be an external issue, but their implications for internal policy should be more widely acknowledged to improve coherence between the EAP and the EU’s international obligations. The European Commission has taken some positive steps in this regard.

•  Priority objective 8: to enhance the sustainability of the Union’s cities

Assessing the performance and implementation of the EAP in this objective is very challenging given the wide variety of cities in the EU and the lack of specific targets in this area. However, a limited analysis suggests that the policies of EU cities are broadly coherent with the EAP. Mixed progress was reported as regards energy efficiency, sustainable transport and mobility, sustainable urban planning and design, urban biodiversity and sustainable buildings.

•  Priority objective 9: to increase the Union’s effectiveness in addressing international environmental and climate related challenges

There are no clear trends on the effectiveness of the 7th EAP in this area and progress towards the implementation of specific initiatives appears to be mixed. The EU has promoted emissions trading schemes internationally, but has been less successful in ensuring that economic growth is achieved within the carrying capacity of the Earth. There seems to have been little progress addressing the issue of the EU’s demand for food and non-food commodities and the environmental impacts this has at international level.

Conclusions and recommendations

The rapporteur is of the view that the 7th EAP provides important strategic guidance for both the EU and Member States. It drives an agenda which has a positive effect on citizens and the environment, and it increases accountability. However, there are several key areas where poor implementation of the EAP is contributing to environmental degradation and posing direct health threats to citizens. These areas include: unsustainable land-use and fishing; biodiversity loss; air quality; environmental noise; waste management; and exposure to chemicals. The failure to implement legislation or make appropriate policies in these areas must be urgently addressed. Further progress towards all the objectives could be achieved by concentrating on three core themes: knowledge gaps, policy coherence, and financing.

The rapporteur supports the adoption of an 8th EAP, but the immediate priority should be the implementation of existing legislation and supporting policies in the areas described above. A future EAP should focus on issues which are fundamental to environmental protection and human health, rather than adding a wide variety of new targets and sub-objectives to an already ambitious programme. The rapporteur believes that citizens, nature and economic actors would all benefit further if the EAP were simpler and more focussed, and that such an approach would also facilitate better monitoring and feedback. Improving coherence with existing EU policy instruments is essential.

The rapporteur extends her thanks to the EU institutions which supported the production of this draft report through various studies, and to the external stakeholders and Member States who provided extensive input via the stakeholder consultation survey.


The findings are based on the following sources:

• Environmental Indicator Report (European Environment Agency, first edition, December 2016);

• Environmental Implementation Review (European Commission, first edition, February 2017);

• Relevant reports of the European Court of Auditors;

• The results from a targeted stakeholder consultation on the implementation of the Programme (European Parliamentary Research Service - EPRS, May-September 2017);

• The European Implementation Assessment produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (DG EPRS).


The 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone (the ‘Gothenburg Protocol’) to the UN Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.


on the implementation of the 7th Environment Action Programme


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’(1) (the ‘7th EAP’),

–  having regard to Articles 191 and 192 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, relating to preserving, protecting and improving the quality of human health and the environment,

  having regard to the Paris Agreement, Decision 1/CP.21 and the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC, held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015,

  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their interconnected and integrated nature,

–  having regard to the European Environment Agency’s report of December 2016 entitled ‘Environmental indicator report 2016 – In support to the monitoring of the 7th Environment Action Programme’,

  having regard to the European Environment Agency’s report of November 2017 entitled ‘Environmental Indicator Report 2017 – In support to the monitoring of the 7th Environment Action Programme’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 February 2017 entitled ‘The EU Environmental Implementation Review: Common challenges and how to combine efforts to deliver better results’ (COM(2017)0063), and the 28 accompanying country reports,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 27 May 2016 entitled ‘Delivering the benefits of EU environmental policies through a regular Environmental Implementation Review’ (COM(2016)0316),

  having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2017 on the EU Environmental Implementation Review (EIR)(2),

  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy(3),

  having regard to its resolution of 2 February 2016 on the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy(4),

  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2017 on an Action Plan for nature, people and the economy(5),

  having regard to its recommendation of 4 April 2017 to the Council and the Commission following the inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector(6),

  having regard to the European Environment Agency’s report entitled ‘SOER 2015 – The European environment – state and outlook 2015’,

  having regard to the European Environment Agency’s report of 19 May 2015 entitled ‘State of Nature in the EU’,

–  having regard to the European Implementation Assessment study of November 2017 on the ‘Mid-term review of the implementation of the 7th Environment Action Programme (2014-2020)’ carried out by the European Parliamentary Research Service, including its Annex Study,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 April 2012 on the review of the 6th Environment Action Programme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme – A better environment for a better life(7),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2016 entitled ‘Next steps for a sustainable European future’ (COM(2016)0739),

  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),

  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ (COM(2011)0571),

  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 November 2017 entitled ‘The Future of Food and Farming’ (COM(2017)0713),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0059/2018),

A.  whereas the 7th EAP sets legally binding objectives in the fields of environment and climate change to be achieved by 2020; whereas it also sets out a long-term vision for 2050;

B.  whereas the 7th EAP does not contain a mid-term review clause; whereas the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on the implementation of the 7th EAP is an opportunity to assess this EAP’s progress and to make evidence-based recommendations for the further implementation of the current EAP and any future EAPs; whereas this report should go beyond restating well-known problems, and should focus on proposing solutions for achieving the goals laid down in the 7th EAP;

C.  whereas the Commission is working on an evaluation report, the focus of which will be on the structure and strategic role played by the 7th EAP; whereas that report is intended. in particular, to check whether the agreed framework is helping to deliver the nine priority objectives in a smart manner;

D.  whereas the EU has strong environmental legislation, the weak and ineffective implementation thereof is a long-standing problem; whereas these implementation gaps threaten sustainable development, have adverse trans-boundary impacts on the environment and human health and entail important socio-economic costs; whereas, moreover, the implementation gaps undermine the EU’s credibility;

E.  whereas progress towards the 2020 objectives has so far been mixed: it is unlikely that objective 1 (protecting natural capital) will be met, but likely that some of the sub-objectives under objective 2 (low carbon economy and resource efficiency) will be met; it is uncertain whether objective 3 (reducing environmental pressures and risks to human health) will be met;

F.  whereas the continuing failure to implement legislation and integrate specialised knowledge into policy-making in areas such as air quality, environmental noise and exposure to chemicals poses severe health threats and reduces quality and length of life for EU citizens;

G.  whereas the most recent data published by the European Environment Agency confirms the general trends described above for each thematic objective but also reports a slowing of progress in some areas; whereas, in some cases, such as greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency, the outlook for achieving the sub-objectives remains unchanged by these new trends;

H.  whereas it is now uncertain whether the target for ammonia emissions will be met and unlikely that the land take target will be met;

I.  whereas much uncertainty exists with regard to implementation owing to a lack of indicators and the limitations of existing indicators; whereas knowledge gaps continue to hinder progress on three levels: understanding of risk; formation of appropriate policy to manage and reduce risk; and monitoring of the effectiveness of policies;

J.  whereas knowledge often exists but is not used in policy-making or transferred to the parties responsible for implementation; whereas this is often due to a lack of political will and competing interests which are not perceived to be consistent with the EAP or environmental policy goals in general; whereas continued economic growth is also dependent on a clean environment;

K.  whereas synergy between the high-level instruments of Union policy and the EAP needs to be improved in order to achieve the objectives of the programme;

L.  whereas there is inadequate funding at some levels for the proper implementation of the 7th EAP; whereas funding at EU level has sometimes failed to deliver the expected results and this has, in multiple cases, been the result of poorly administered financing rather than a lack of money;

M.  whereas the scope of the 7th EAP is relevant to current needs in the field of environmental policy, although many stakeholders recommend the addition of new sub-objectives to increase the programme’s relevance in the future;

N.  whereas stakeholders also express a preference for a less complex, more focused EAP;

O.  whereas there is general support for an 8th EAP;

Main conclusions

1.  Considers that the 7th EAP has added value and a positive influence on environmental policies at EU and Member State level, with benefits for citizens, nature and economic stakeholders;

2.  Reiterates that the 7th EAP has a clear long-term vision for 2050 in order to provide a stable environment for sustainable investment and growth, within the planet’s ecological limits;

3.  Welcomes the positive past trends in regard to numerous sub-objectives of the 7th EAP and the encouraging outlook for some of the 2020 objectives;

4.  Stresses, however, that there is still great potential for improvement and calls on the Commission and the competent authorities in the Member States for increased political will at the highest level to implement the 7th EAP;

5.  Regrets that the priority objective to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital are unlikely to be met; notes with concern, furthermore, that the targets of the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Convention on Biological Diversity will not be met without immediate, substantial and additional efforts;

6.  Notes that there has been some progress in certain areas for priority objective 2, in particular for climate and energy related targets; notes, however, that more must be done on resource efficiency; reiterates the potential of the Ecodesign Directive(8) and the Ecolabel Regulation(9) to improve the environmental performance and resource efficiency of products throughout their lifecycle, by addressing, inter alia, product durability, reparability, re-usability, recyclability, recycled content and product lifespan;

7.  Regrets that the sub-objective of achieving good quality status of surface water bodies by 2020 will not be achieved owing to the pressure exerted by pollution, interventions in the morphology of watercourses and excessive consumption due to the large amounts of water drawn off for the generation of hydroelectric power;

8.  Underlines that the objectives of the 7th EAP are minimum targets, and that considerable additional efforts are needed to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

9.  Recalls that the EU and its Member States are all signatories to the Paris Agreement, and therefore committed to its objectives, and that they have submitted a Nationally Determined Contribution delivering 40 % economy-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions in the Union by 2030; underlines the need to fully integrate the 2030 target and the long-term net-zero emissions goal into all Union policies and funding programmes; calls on the Commission to keep the climate and energy framework targets under review, in the context of the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue and the five-yearly global stocktakes, and to prepare a mid-century zero emissions strategy for the EU, providing a cost-efficient pathway towards reaching the net-zero emissions goal adopted in the Paris Agreement;

10.  Notes that there is considerable uncertainty regarding the progress towards objectives for human health and well-being; underlines that knowledge gaps and limited indicators hinder policy development and monitoring;

11.  Welcomes existing initiatives which contribute to reducing knowledge gaps, including: the ‘Driving Force - Pressure - State - Exposure - Effects - Action’ (DPSEEA) model for understanding the drivers which disrupt ecosystem services; ‘human biomonitoring’ (HBM) for estimating exposure of human populations to contaminants and the possible health effects thereof; and the ‘Information Platform for Chemical Monitoring’ (IPCheM);

12.  Is concerned that specialised knowledge and scientific evidence are not always appropriately considered in policy-making or transferred to the parties responsible for implementation; highlights the examples of bioenergy, palm oil, plant protection products, endocrine disrupters, food production and consumption, GMOs, urban planning and design, air and noise pollution, and urban food waste as areas where scientific evidence of risks to human health and the environment has been sidelined in public and political debates; believes that broad scientific knowledge, as well as adherence to the precautionary principle in the absence of sufficient scientific data, should guide responsible political decision making; recalls the importance of the scientific advice of EU agencies in that context; underlines that other guiding principles in EU environmental law and policy include the polluter-pays principle, preventative action, and tackling environmental damage at source;

13.  Condemns the Commission’s failure to meet deadlines set out by law for drafting harmonised hazard-based criteria for the identification of endocrine disruptors and for reviewing Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 (10) (‘Cosmetics Regulation’) with regard to endocrine disruptors; calls on the Commission to immediately review the Cosmetics Regulation with regard to endocrine disruptors without any further delays; regrets that the failure to make sufficient progress on endocrine disruptors poses health risks to citizens and hinders the achievement of priority objective 3 of the 7th EAP;

14.  Regrets the lack of progress on developing a Union strategy for a non-toxic environment, the promotion of non-toxic material cycles and reducing exposure to harmful substances including chemicals in products; highlights the fact that further efforts are needed to ensure that, by 2020, all relevant substances of very high concern, including substances with endocrine-disrupting properties, are placed on the REACH candidate list, as laid down in the 7th EAP; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the combination effects of chemicals are effectively addressed in all relevant Union legislation as soon as possible, with a special emphasis on risks to children arising from exposure to hazardous substances; welcomes the Commission strategy on plastics and calls for its swift implementation; reiterates, in this context, that the promotion of non-toxic material cycles is essential for the sound development of a functioning secondary raw materials market;

15.  Underlines that the lack of integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas is one of the root causes of implementation gaps in environmental legislation and policy; considers that synergies between other high-level EU policy instruments (such as the common agricultural policy (CAP), the common fisheries policy (CFP), the structural funds and the cohesion policy) and improved coherence between high level political priorities remain fundamental to achieving the objectives of the 7th EAP; calls for the Commission and Council, in all their formations, to improve the policy coordination and integration of the objectives of the 7th EAP; underlines, furthermore, the need to integrate all outstanding aspects of the 7th EAP into high level instruments, including the European Semester;

16.  Underlines that the potential for establishing new financial mechanisms for biodiversity conservation with a view to reaching the 2020 targets is limited due to the timeframe of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF); calls, in this connection, for the maximum use of resources within the current MFF, including LIFE, CAP and Structural Funds and calls on the inclusion of new financial mechanisms for biodiversity conservation in the next MFF;

17.  Welcomes the improvements in the CFP and cohesion policy, which have increased coherence with the 7th EAP; regrets, however, that despite improvements to the regulatory framework the CFP continues to suffer from poor implementation; recalls the importance of healthy fish stocks;

18.  Recognises that the CAP has progressively integrated environmental concerns but still presents challenges to the achievement of the EAP’s objectives, particularly as regards resource-intensive production and biodiversity; recalls that the CAP has the challenging task of preventing environmental degradation caused by inappropriate agricultural practices (such as unsustainable biofuels), unsustainable agricultural intensification and land abandonment, while providing better quality and increased quantities of food and agricultural raw materials to the ever-growing world population; stresses that further initiatives and support for environmentally sustainable farming methods, including crop rotation and nitrogen fixing plants, are essential and need to consider agriculture and farmers as part of the solution;

19.  Underlines that protecting and enhancing food security in the long term by preventing environmental damage and moving towards a sustainable food system which provides food at reasonable prices for consumers should be key priorities of a reformed CAP; highlights that these objectives can only be achieved by sustainable management of natural resources and policy intervention which ensures the protection of ecosystems;

20.  Recalls that, in the context of climate change and a growing world population, the rising demand for diets rich in animal protein is exerting significant environmental pressures on agricultural land and increasingly fragile ecosystems; underlines also that diets with excessive amounts of animal fat are increasingly linked to the non-communicable disease burden;

21.  Recalls the Commission’s 2016 commitment to mainstream the SDGs into EU policies and initiatives; acknowledges that this commitment lacks a clear strategy and concrete proposals for institutional structures and a governance framework to ensure the mainstreaming of the SDGs into EU policies, legislative proposals, implementation and enforcement; considers it important for the EU to be fully committed, as a pioneer, to attaining the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development; underlines, furthermore, that the 7th EAP is a key instrument for the implementation of the SDGs;

22.  Notes the high quality of drinking water in the EU; expects the revision of Directive 98/83/EC (‘Drinking Water Directive’)(11) to provide the necessary updates to this legal framework; encourages the Commission and the Member States to further integrate the EU’s water objectives into other sectoral policies under the EAP, in particular the CAP;

23.  Welcomes the improvements brought by some EU-funded projects, but regrets the missed opportunities to deliver better results as highlighted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA); underlines that the post-2020 MFF must be oriented towards sustainable development and mainstreaming of environmental policy in all funding mechanisms and budgetary lines; emphasises the need to increase green investment, innovation and sustainable growth using new financing tools, both public and private, and different approaches to current investment policy such as the phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies in order to achieve the long-term vision of the 7th EAP; considers that clearly defined sustainability criteria and performance-based objectives should apply to all EU structural and investment funds; calls for a more efficient and targeted use of the current MFF and the funds under the cohesion and regional development policies, and for the aforementioned problems referred to by the ECA to be urgently addressed; calls for the Commission and the Member States to support the continuation of and a possible increase in the earmarking of EU budget resources for environment- and climate change-related action;

24.  Regrets the persistent shortcomings in the treatment of urban waste water in various regions of Europe; underlines the potential of wastewater treatment and reuse to alleviate water stress situations, reduce direct water withdrawals, produce biogas and guarantee better management of water resources particularly through irrigation for agriculture; looks forward to the legislative proposal on the reuse of waste water, which will be presented by the Commission in early 2018;

25.  Notes that the biggest environmental threats to health are most evident in urban areas but also affect peripheral areas and suburban agglomerations, and that by 2020, 80 % of the population is expected to be living in urban and suburban areas; highlights the fact that emissions of atmospheric pollutants, combined with inadequate planning and infrastructure, have dramatic economic, social, public health and environmental consequences; notes that air pollution already causes more than 400 000 premature deaths in the EU(12) and that health-related external costs range from EUR 330 billion to EUR 940 billion;

26.  Notes that at least 10 000 premature deaths in the EU are caused by noise-related illnesses and that in 2012 approximately a quarter of the population of the EU was exposed to levels of noise in excess of the limit values; calls on the Member States to prioritise the monitoring of noise levels in line with Directive 2002/49/EC(13), so as to ensure that the applicable limit values for indoor and outdoor environments are respected;

27.  Acknowledges the progress on reducing certain atmospheric pollutants, particularly in urban areas, but regrets the persistent problems with air quality, to which emissions from road transport and agriculture are a significant contributory factor; acknowledges the ‘mobility package’ presented by the Commission in November 2017 and the European Strategy for Low Emission Mobility presented in 2016, which could pave the way for low-emission mobility within the Union;

28.  Welcomes the progress made on the circular economy package legislation; urges all parties to strive to reach an agreement with ambitious targets;


29.  Calls on the Member States to assess their progress towards the objectives of the 7th EAP and to reorient their actions where necessary; urges the Member States to make the results publicly available;

30.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that any new legislative proposals fully implement the objectives and measures of the7th EAP;

31.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the active inclusion of civil society organisations in the assessment of the implementation of EU environmental legislation;

32.  Requests that the relevant EU institutions and agencies prioritise research and close knowledge gaps in the following areas: environmental thresholds (tipping points), the circular economy paradigm, the combined effects of chemicals, nanomaterials, hazard identification methods, the impacts of microplastics, the interaction between systemic risks and other health determinants, soil and land use and invasive alien species;

33.  Welcomes the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) as a positive mechanism to improve implementation of EU environmental legislation and policy, which can contribute to the monitoring of the implementation of the 7th EAP, as already stressed in its resolution of 16 November 2017 on the EU Environmental Review(14); considers that the EIR should fully involve all the relevant stakeholders, including civil society, and should cover the full scope of the EAP’s thematic priority objectives;

34.  Calls for the Union and the Member States quickly and definitively to abandon environmentally harmful subsidies;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase and coordinate efforts to promote the development and validation of alternative methods to animal testing so that they contribute to the achievement of priority objective No 5 of the 7th EAP;

36.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to do more to improve the cognitive and scientific bases of the EU’s environmental policies, increasing the accessibility of data for citizens and fostering public involvement in scientific research;

37.  Calls for the EU institutions, as well as national and regional governments where appropriate, to make full use of available specialist knowledge about risks to the environment and human health when making and monitoring policies;

38.  Calls for an improved pesticide authorisation system in the EU, based on peer reviewed scientific studies and full transparency on the degree of human and environmental exposure and health risks; calls for improved standards for the monitoring of pesticides and targets for reducing their use; takes note of the Commission communication of 12 December 2017 on the European Citizens' Initiative ‘Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides’ (C(2017) 8414);

39.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that long-term actions with a view to reaching the objective of a non-toxic environment are identified by 2020;

40.  Asks the European Environment Agency to increase the quantity and quality of indicators used to monitor progress;

41.  Calls for the issue of implementation to feature as a recurring item in trio-Presidency priorities and programmes, that it be discussed at the Environment Council at least once a year, perhaps through a dedicated Implementation Council, and that this be complemented by another forum in which Parliament and the Committee of the Regions would also be involved; calls for joint Council meetings to address the implementation of cross-sectoral, horizontal issues and common challenges, as well as emerging issues with possible cross-border impacts;

42.  Calls for the full implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to be stepped up without delay;

43.  Calls for infrastructure projects, particularly those related to TEN-T, to fully consider environmental impacts at regional and project level; notes that coherence between different environmental policies is also relevant; stresses the importance of taking the environment and biodiversity into account in infrastructure projects for renewable hydroelectric and marine power generation;

44.  Urges the Member States to make greater efforts to preserve the use and integrity of fresh water reserves, given the uncertainty surrounding the possibility of achieving the sub-objective set out in this regard in the 7th EAP; calls on the Member States to remedy as a matter of priority the poor state of surface waters as the objectives in this area are unlikely to be met by 2020; calls on the competent authorities in the Member States to tackle the pressures on water bodies, by eliminating the causes of water pollution at source, establishing areas where it is forbidden to draw off water for hydroelectric purposes and ensuring the maintenance of ecological flows along rivers; calls on the Commission not to delay in drawing up the conformity assessment for the second cycle of river basin management plans adopted by the Member States under the Water Framework Directive;

45.  Urges further reform of the CAP to align sustainable food production and environmental policy targets, including biodiversity targets, in order to safeguard food security now and in the future; underlines the need for a smart agricultural policy with strong commitment to deliver public goods and ecosystem services related to soil, water, biodiversity, air quality, climate action and the provision of landscape amenities; calls for an integrated policy with a more targeted and ambitious yet flexible approach, where the granting of support to the agricultural sector is linked to both food security and the delivery of environmental outcomes; calls on the Member States to recognise agroforestry as ecological focus area in accordance with Article 46 of Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013(15); calls on the Commission to ensure that environmentally beneficial farming practices are afforded appropriate support in any future revision of the CAP;

46.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to increase the uptake of solutions to environmental challenges, especially where technical solutions exist but are not yet fully deployed, such as reduction of ammonia in agriculture;

47.  Calls on the Commission to significantly improve the volume, use and administration of EU funds for the EAP’s objectives; calls for better monitoring, transparency and accountability; calls for the mainstreaming of climate and other environmental issues in the EU budget;

48.  Calls on the Commission to develop, without delay, a comprehensive, overarching framework strategy on the implementation of the SDGs in the EU, addressing all policy areas and including a review mechanism to assess progress of implementation; requests the Commission to establish an SDG check of all new policies and legislation and to ensure full policy coherence in the implementation of SDGs;

49.  Calls on the Commission to guarantee the enforcement of existing EU law and ensure Member States’ full compliance with the objectives of 7th EAP by utilising all tools at its disposal, e.g. infringement procedures;

50.  Welcomes the existing special reports and performance audits of the ECA and invites the ECA to further analyse other areas relevant to the EAP which have not been included in the work programme thus far;

51.  Calls on the Commission and the competent authorities in the Member States to provide appropriate guidance so that EU funds are more accessible, including for local projects, particularly as regards green infrastructure, biodiversity, and the Birds and Habitats Directives;

52.  Calls on the Member States to ensure full implementation of the air quality legislation; calls on regional authorities to provide a supporting framework, particularly with regard to urban planning and local policy-making, in order to improve health outcomes in all areas, and in particular the worst-affected ones;

53.  Urges the competent national and regional authorities to adopt plans comprising credible measures to put an end to the problem of exceeding the daily and annual limit values set by EU legislation on fine and ultra-fine particles in agglomerations where air quality is poor; highlights the fact that this is essential to achieve priority objectives Nos 2, 3 and 8 of the 7th EAP;

54.  Proposes the following actions to improve air quality in urban areas: establishment of low-emission zones; promotion of car-sharing and ride-sharing facilities and services; phasing-out of preferential tax treatment for highly polluting vehicles; introduction of ‘mobility budgets’ for employees as an alternative to company cars; application of parking policies which reduce traffic volumes in congested areas; improvement of infrastructure to encourage cycling and increase multi-modal connections and to improve cycling safety; establishment of pedestrian zones;

55.  Calls for enhanced urban planning and development at the appropriate governance levels to adapt infrastructure for electric and clean vehicles as soon as possible, e.g. by installing charging infrastructure, and to deliver environmental and health benefits such as reducing the heat island effect and increasing physical activity, e.g. by increasing green infrastructure and recovering abandoned or degraded industrial areas; recognises that these measures would improve air quality, combat diseases and premature mortality caused by pollution, and enable progress to be made towards zero-emission mobility;

56.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure fair intermodal competition and a shift to sustainable transport modes;

57.  Calls on the Commission to come forward, by 2019 at the latest, with an overarching Union Environmental Action Programme for the period after 2020, as required by Article 192(3) of the TFEU; highlights the importance of transparency and democratic accountability when monitoring EU policy; stresses, therefore, that the next EAP should include measurable, results-based midway milestones;

58.  Calls on the next Commission to dedicate a priority area of the next legislative term to sustainable development, environmental and climate protection in general and the objectives of the 7th EAP and a forthcoming 8th EAP in particular;


º  º

59.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Court of Auditors, the European Environment Agency, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


. OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0450.


OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 65.


OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 2.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0441.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0100.


OJ C 258 E, 7.9.2013, p. 115.


Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products (OJ L 285, 31.10.2009, p. 10).


Regulation (EC) No 66/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the EU Ecolabel (OJ L 27, 30.1.2010, p. 1).


Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products (OJ L 342, 22.12.2009, p. 59).


Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption (OJ L 330, 5.12.1998, p. 32).


EEA Report No 13/2017 of 11.10.2017 on ‘ir quality in Europe 2017’.


Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (OJ L 189, 18.07.2002, p. 12).


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0450.


Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing rules for direct payments to farmers under support schemes within the framework of the common agricultural policy and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 637/2008 and Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 (OJ L 347 of 20.12.2013, p. 608).


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Margrete Auken, Pilar Ayuso, Zoltán Balczó, Ivo Belet, Biljana Borzan, Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, Miriam Dalli, Seb Dance, Angélique Delahaye, Mark Demesmaeker, Stefan Eck, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Francesc Gambús, Elisabetta Gardini, Jens Gieseke, Julie Girling, Françoise Grossetête, Andrzej Grzyb, Jytte Guteland, György Hölvényi, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Karin Kadenbach, Kateřina Konečná, Urszula Krupa, Giovanni La Via, Peter Liese, Lukas Mandl, Valentinas Mazuronis, Susanne Melior, Miroslav Mikolášik, Rory Palmer, Gilles Pargneaux, Bolesław G. Piecha, Pavel Poc, John Procter, Julia Reid, Frédérique Ries, Michèle Rivasi, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Renate Sommer, Nils Torvalds, Adina-Ioana Vălean, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Damiano Zoffoli

Substitutes present for the final vote

Nikos Androulakis, Ismail Ertug, Eleonora Evi, Luke Ming Flanagan, Martin Häusling, Peter Jahr, Rupert Matthews, Ulrike Müller, Alojz Peterle, Stanislav Polčák, Bart Staes, Carlos Zorrinho

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Tomáš Zdechovský, Maria Gabriela Zoană





Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Valentinas Mazuronis, Ulrike Müller, Frédérique Ries, Nils Torvalds


Mark Demesmaeker, Julie Girling, Rupert Matthews, John Procter


Eleonora Evi


Stefan Eck, Luke Ming Flanagan, Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Kateřina Konečná


Zoltán Balczó


Pilar Ayuso, Ivo Belet, Angélique Delahaye, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Francesc Gambús, Elisabetta Gardini, Jens Gieseke, Françoise Grossetête, Andrzej Grzyb, György Hölvényi, Peter Jahr, Giovanni La Via, Peter Liese, Lukas Mandl, Miroslav Mikolášik, Alojz Peterle, Stanislav Polčák, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Renate Sommer, Adina-Ioana Vălean, Tomáš Zdechovský


Nikos Androulakis, Biljana Borzan, Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, Miriam Dalli, Seb Dance, Ismail Ertug, Jytte Guteland, Karin Kadenbach, Susanne Melior, Rory Palmer, Gilles Pargneaux, Pavel Poc, Maria Gabriela Zoană, Damiano Zoffoli, Carlos Zorrinho


Margrete Auken, Martin Häusling, Michèle Rivasi, Bart Staes




Julia Reid




Urszula Krupa, Bolesław G. Piecha, Jadwiga Wiśniewska

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