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International Issues

Multilateral Environmental Agreements

The need for international action

Most environmental problems have a transboundary nature and often a global scope, and they can only be addressed effectively through international co-operation. For this reason, the Lisbon Treaty establishes that one of the key objectives of the EU policy on the environment is to promote measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change. The Union takes an active part in the elaboration, ratification and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.

International Agreements in the 6th Environment Action Programme

There is an essential international dimension to the four priority areas listed in the 6th Environment Action Programme of the EU: climate change, nature and biodiversity, environment and health and quality of life and natural resources and wastes. In all these cases, the EU's strategic objectives can only be achieved if a series of key international environmental agreements are actively supported and properly implemented, both at Union level and worldwide.

The Action Programme contains also a specific provision on international action, which recalls the objective of aiming for swift ratification, effective compliance and enforcement of all international conventions and agreements relating to the environment where the Union is a Party.

The EU is a Party to many International Environmental Agreements

The Union has already ratified many international environmental agreements, whether at global level (multilateral agreements negotiated under the auspices of the UN), at regional level (e.g. in the context of the UN Economic Commission for Europe or the Council of Europe), and sub-regional level (for instance for the management of seas or transboundary rivers).

The matters addressed by these agreements are very wide, and include among other the following areas: biodiversity and nature protection, climate change, protection of the ozone layer, desertification, management of chemicals and waste, transboundary water and air pollution, environmental governance (including impact assessments, access to information and public participation), industrial accidents, maritime and river protection, environmental liability.

In all these fields, the Union  is a leading proponent of international environmental action and co-operation, and an active player committed to promote worldwide the concept of sustainable development.

List of Agreements

A detailed table (pdf ~200K) has been drawn listing the international environmental agreements to which the Union is already a Party or a Signatory. International environmental agreements, with their corresponding Protocols, have been classified by chronological order. The table contains relevant details on signature, conclusion, publication in the Official Journal, plus a link to the relevant webpage of each Convention and to the list of Parties.

In addition, for ease of reference, the main agreements have also been grouped below according to the general environmental themes, in line with the structure of the Site Map. For each Convention below, you will also find a link pointing to the corresponding page of the chronological table of agreements to which the Union is a Party or a Signatory, mentioned above.




Civil Protection and Environmental Accidents:

Climate Change and Ozone Depletion:



Land use:

Nature and biodiversity: