Environment Action Programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early seventies, and the 6th EAP should be seen as part of a continuous process spanning almost 40 years.
The results of the final assessment of the 6th EAP show that on balance the 6th EAP helped to provide an overarching framework for environment policy over a 10-year period, during which environmental legislation was consolidated and completed to cover almost all areas of environment, with the exception of soil. The Programme's adoption by co-decision has been seen by stakeholders as giving it more legitimacy and helping to create a wider sense of ownership for subsequent policy proposals. But it also shows shortcomings and limitations: in particular, inclusion in the EAP is no guarantee that Member States are actually committed to these objectives.
In preparing its proposal for a new Environment Action Programme, the Commission built on the challenges highlighted in the European Environment Agency's State of the Environment Report 2010 and the conclusions of the 6th EAP Final Assessment. Accordingly, the new EAP is much more strategic in nature than the 6th EAP, "setting out priority objectives to be attained" (art. 192.3 TFUE) in environment policy in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
The Council adopted in 2010, 2011 and 2012 conclusions on the 6th EAP and on the 7th EAP:
The Committee of the Regions adopted in 2010 an outlook opinion on the 6th EAP final assessment and on the future policy priorities.
The European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinions:
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in April 2012: