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International Issues & Enlargement

The international dimension of environment policy is increasingly important for a number of interlinked reasons. Many of the most serious environmental problems, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, are global in nature and it is not possible for the EU to tackle these on its own. We are dependent on using the environmental resources of third countries and have a strong interest that these resources are used in a sustainable manner.

By working together the EU has a far bigger voice on the international stage than any single Member State and we have taken a leading role in developing a number of multilateral environmental agreements. EU enlargement provides a major opportunity for the environment, but also a significant challenge for the candidate countries that must be able to effectively apply all EU legislation when they join the Union. During the pre-accession period, the Commission is working intensively with Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as well as with the potential candidates of south east Europe and Iceland to help them meet the EU's environmental protection requirements and support them in their efforts to transpose and implement the EU environmental acquis.

The Commission is also working closely with Russia and the 'Neighbourhood' countries (in the arc from Ukraine to Morocco) contributing to the environmental dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, under which the countries to the south of the EU and to the east of the enlargement area seek to achieve a progressive convergence with EU norms and standards The combined results will mean a cleaner and healthier Europe.

The EU cooperates with third countries to bolster their environmental standards and enforcement methods, through the sharing of expertise and information and by funding projects worldwide. For instance, we are developing increasingly close cooperation with China and India. More generally, the Commission is working to make sure that environmental considerations are systematically mainstreamed into all EU external policies: from trade to development. In particular, the Commission is trying to ensure the integration of environmental considerations in implementing the Development Cooperation Instrument to developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific region.

Apart from the collaboration in the above mentioned areas, the Commission is also ensuring relations on environmental issues with the EU's developed-country trading partners in the G8 and the G20, with several of whom the EU has so-called "Partnerships" that aim to encourage more collaboration on a range of policy issues.

International issues and enlargement – EU environment website