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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.

CO2 standards for new cars and vans

28-05-2019

In November 2017, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on reducing CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (vans). The proposed measures and targets are aligned with the 2030 climate and energy framework and with the energy union strategy, which envisages a reduction in transport emissions and energy consumption. The Commission sets new targets for the EU fleetwide average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and vans. Average CO2 emissions from new ...

In November 2017, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on reducing CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (vans). The proposed measures and targets are aligned with the 2030 climate and energy framework and with the energy union strategy, which envisages a reduction in transport emissions and energy consumption. The Commission sets new targets for the EU fleetwide average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and vans. Average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and vans registered in the EU would have to be 15 % lower in 2025, and 30 % lower in 2030, compared to their respective limits in 2021. The proposal includes a dedicated incentive mechanism for zero- and low-emission vehicles, in order to accelerate their market uptake. Interinstitutional trilogue negotiations concluded in December with an agreement setting a 37.5 % CO2 reduction target for new cars by 2030, and a 31 % target for new vans. Parliament approved the agreed text on 27 March 2019. The regulation was published in the Official Journal on 25 April 2019. It entered into force on 15 May 2019 and will apply from 1 January 2020. Fourth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Review of the Clean Vehicles Directive

10-04-2019

In November 2017, the European Commission proposed a revision of Directive 2009/33/EC on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles (the Clean Vehicles Directive), after an evaluation showed that the directive had yielded limited results. The proposed directive aims to promote clean mobility solutions in public procurement tenders and thereby raise the demand for, and the further deployment of, clean vehicles. The proposal provides a definition for clean light-duty vehicles ...

In November 2017, the European Commission proposed a revision of Directive 2009/33/EC on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles (the Clean Vehicles Directive), after an evaluation showed that the directive had yielded limited results. The proposed directive aims to promote clean mobility solutions in public procurement tenders and thereby raise the demand for, and the further deployment of, clean vehicles. The proposal provides a definition for clean light-duty vehicles based on a combined CO2 and air-pollutant emissions threshold; for heavy-duty vehicles, it gives a definition based on alternative fuels. The proposal is in line with the European Commission’s energy union package, which plans action on the further decarbonisation of road transport in line with the 2030 climate and energy targets. The proposal was referred to the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). The committee adopted its report on 10 October 2018. The Parliament then voted on the report during the October II 2018 plenary session. A trilogue agreement was reached on 11 February 2019. The Parliament is expected to vote on the agreed text during the April II session. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

The concept of 'climate refugee': Towards a possible definition

29-01-2019

According to statistics published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, every year since 2008, an average of 26.4 million persons around the world have been forcibly displaced by floods, windstorms, earthquakes or droughts. This is equivalent to one person being displaced every second. Depending on the frequency and scale of the major natural disasters occurring, there are significant fluctuations in the total number of displaced people from one year to the next, yet the trend over recent ...

According to statistics published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, every year since 2008, an average of 26.4 million persons around the world have been forcibly displaced by floods, windstorms, earthquakes or droughts. This is equivalent to one person being displaced every second. Depending on the frequency and scale of the major natural disasters occurring, there are significant fluctuations in the total number of displaced people from one year to the next, yet the trend over recent decades has been on the rise. Many find refuge within their own country, but some are forced to go abroad. With climate change, the number of 'climate refugees' will rise in the future. So far, the national and international response to this challenge has been limited, and protection for the people affected remains inadequate. What adds further to the gap in the protection of such people – who are often described as 'climate refugees' – is that there is neither a clear definition for this category of people, nor are they covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention. The latter extends only to people who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from their home countries. While the EU has so far not recognised climate refugees formally, it has expressed growing concern and has taken action to support and develop resilience in the countries potentially affected by climate-related stress. This briefing is an update of an earlier one of May 2018.

Interlinks between migration and development

23-01-2019

The EU and its Member States have reshaped their external policies, including development cooperation, to place more focus on migration-related issues. Widely used in this context, political rhetoric on 'addressing root causes of migration' has been questioned by academics as creating unrealistic expectations. Indeed, a positive correlation between migration and narrowly understood economic development persists until countries reach middle-income country level. However, several key drivers of migration ...

The EU and its Member States have reshaped their external policies, including development cooperation, to place more focus on migration-related issues. Widely used in this context, political rhetoric on 'addressing root causes of migration' has been questioned by academics as creating unrealistic expectations. Indeed, a positive correlation between migration and narrowly understood economic development persists until countries reach middle-income country level. However, several key drivers of migration are related to discrepancies in levels of human development. Demographic pressures, youth unemployment, job opportunities in the country of destination, the growth of migrant networks and the desire to reunite families, all play roles in migration. A complex interaction between aid and migration also exists, which is far from a simple one-way causality. In general, poverty alleviation, the primary objective of development aid, tends to enhance rather than deter the realisation of the aspiration to migrate, in the short- and medium-term, by increasing household incomes. A more global approach to cooperation with third countries, such as the EU's already well-established assistance focusing on good governance, infrastructure, rural development and strengthening resilience, as well as going beyond development assistance to include trade and investment, appears promising in terms of deterring migration. On the other hand, studies confirm that international migration is an important path for development: remittances constitute a tool for poverty reduction, while diaspora skills and networks provide resources for economic and social progress. Nevertheless, EU policy integrating development aid as an instrument for curbing irregular migration is criticised by development stakeholders as undermining aid effectiveness, principles, and risks diverting aid from the most needy and indirectly prompting human rights violations. To avoid such outcomes, a contextual analysis must be the basis for identifying genuine synergies to be reinforced between development and migration management.

Establishing a programme for the environment and climate action (LIFE)

22-11-2018

The Commission proposed to continue the current LIFE programme and increase its budget and scope. The supporting impact assessment is largely in line with the requirements of the Better Regulation Guidelines in terms of the range of options, the assessment of impacts, the quality of data and the analysis it provides. However, consultation activities, subsidiarity and proportionality assessment, the specific objectives and operational goals and their link to the proposed monitoring and evaluation ...

The Commission proposed to continue the current LIFE programme and increase its budget and scope. The supporting impact assessment is largely in line with the requirements of the Better Regulation Guidelines in terms of the range of options, the assessment of impacts, the quality of data and the analysis it provides. However, consultation activities, subsidiarity and proportionality assessment, the specific objectives and operational goals and their link to the proposed monitoring and evaluation framework fall short of the Better Regulation Guidelines.

Global Trends to 2035 - Economy and Society

20-11-2018

This study maps and analyses current and future global trends in the fields of economics and society, covering the period to 2035. Drawing on and complementing existing literature, it summarises and analyses the findings of relevant foresight studies in relation to such global trends. It traces recent changes in the perceived trajectory of already-identified trends and identifies significant new or emerging trends. It also addresses potential policy implications of such trends for the EU.

This study maps and analyses current and future global trends in the fields of economics and society, covering the period to 2035. Drawing on and complementing existing literature, it summarises and analyses the findings of relevant foresight studies in relation to such global trends. It traces recent changes in the perceived trajectory of already-identified trends and identifies significant new or emerging trends. It also addresses potential policy implications of such trends for the EU.

Externe auteur

EPRS, DG

Climate change [What Think Tanks are thinking]

16-11-2018

World leaders are preparing for the ‘COP 24’ summit on tackling climate change in Katowice, Poland, in December, which is meant to debate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, a United Nations report has called for more measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gases: On 8 October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest findings, which indicate that limiting global warming to the 1.5˚C increase agreed in Paris would require rapid, far-reaching and ...

World leaders are preparing for the ‘COP 24’ summit on tackling climate change in Katowice, Poland, in December, which is meant to debate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, a United Nations report has called for more measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gases: On 8 October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest findings, which indicate that limiting global warming to the 1.5˚C increase agreed in Paris would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on climate talks and wider issues relating to climate change. Earlier publications on the issue can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking' published in November 2017.

LIFE programme for 2021-2027: Financing environmental and climate objectives

09-11-2018

Launched in 1992, the LIFE programme is the only EU fund entirely dedicated to environmental and climate objectives. It supports the implementation of relevant EU legislation and the development of key policy priorities, by co-financing projects with European added value. To date, LIFE has co financed more than 4 500 projects. In June 2018, the European Commission submitted a proposal on a regulation establishing a new LIFE programme for 2021-2027. The programme would support projects in the areas ...

Launched in 1992, the LIFE programme is the only EU fund entirely dedicated to environmental and climate objectives. It supports the implementation of relevant EU legislation and the development of key policy priorities, by co-financing projects with European added value. To date, LIFE has co financed more than 4 500 projects. In June 2018, the European Commission submitted a proposal on a regulation establishing a new LIFE programme for 2021-2027. The programme would support projects in the areas of nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, clean energy transition, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. A total of €4.83 billion in 2018 prices (€5.45 billion in current prices) would be earmarked to the new programme. In the European Parliament, the proposal has been referred to the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). The Environment Council considered the information provided by the Commission on the proposal in a public session on 25 June 2018. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

International Climate Negotiations - Issues at stake in view of the COP 24 UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice and beyond

05-11-2018

This study provides an overview of the contents of the Paris Agreement as well as background information. It summarises the further negotiation process under the UNFCCC, related international developments as well as the key issues ahead of COP 24 in Katowice in December 2018, during which the rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement are expected to be finalised. This study was provided by the Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food ...

This study provides an overview of the contents of the Paris Agreement as well as background information. It summarises the further negotiation process under the UNFCCC, related international developments as well as the key issues ahead of COP 24 in Katowice in December 2018, during which the rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement are expected to be finalised. This study was provided by the Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Externe auteur

Henrik NEIER, Judith NEYER, Klaus RADUNSKY, Environment Agency Austria

Toekomstige activiteiten

17-10-2019
What Europe is Thinking: The latest Pew survey of opinion in 14 EU Member States
Diverse activiteiten -
EPRS
05-11-2019
The Art and Craft of Political Speech-writing: A conversation with Eric Schnure
Diverse activiteiten -
EPRS
06-11-2019
Where next for the global and European economies? The 2019 IMF Economic Outlook
Diverse activiteiten -
EPRS

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