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Proposal for a new EU Environment Action Programme to 2020

Thematic Objectives:

PRIORITY OBJECTIVE 1: In order to protect, conserve and enhance the EU's natural capital, the programme shall ensure that by 2020:

  1. The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services are halted and ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced.
  2. The impacts of pressures on fresh, transitional and coastal waters are significantly reduced to achieve, maintain or enhance good status as defined by the Water Framework Directive.
  3. The impacts of pressures on marine waters are reduced to achieve or maintain good environmental status as required by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
  4. The impacts of air pollution on ecosystems and biodiversity are further reduced.
  5. Land is managed sustainably in the EU, soil is adequately protected and the remediation of contaminated sites is well underway.
  6. The nutrient cycle (nitrogen and phosphorus) is managed in a more sustainable and resource-efficient way.
  7. Forests and the services they provide are protected and their resilience to climate change and fires is improved.

This requires, in particular:

  1. Fully implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
  2. Fully implementing the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources.
  3. Increasing efforts, inter alia, to ensure that healthy fish stocks are achieved by 2020 at the latest, starting by fishing at, or below, maximum sustainable yield levels as from 2015 in all fisheries, and establish an EU-wide quantitative reduction target for marine litter.
  4. Strengthening efforts to reach full compliance with EU air quality legislation and defining strategic targets and actions beyond 2020.
  5. Increasing efforts to reduce soil erosion and increase soil organic matter, to remediate contaminated sites and to enhance the integration of land use aspects into coordinated decision-making involving all relevant levels of government, supported by the adoption of targets on soil and on land as a resource, and land planning objectives.
  6. Taking further steps to reduce emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus, including those from urban and industrial wastewater and from fertiliser use.
  7. Developing and implementing a new EU Forest Strategy that addresses the multiple demands on and benefits of forests and contributes to a more strategic approach to protecting and enhancing forests.


PRIORITY OBJECTIVE 2: In order to turn the EU into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy, the programme shall ensure that by 2020:

  1. The EU has met its 2020 climate and energy targets and is working towards reducing GHG emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990, as part of a global effort to limit the average temperature increase below 2°C.
  2. The overall environmental impact of EU industry in all major industrial sectors is significantly reduced, and resource efficiency increased.
  3. The overall environmental impact of production and consumption is reduced, in particular in the food, housing and mobility sectors.
  4. Waste is safely managed as a resource, waste generated per capita is in absolute decline, energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials and landfilling of recyclable and compostable materials is effectively eradicated.
  5. Water stress in the EU is prevented or significantly reduced.

This requires, in particular:

  1. Fully implementing the Climate and Energy Package and agreeing on the EU’s climate and energy policy framework for the period beyond 2020.
  2. Generalising the application of ‘Best Available Techniques’ and enhancing efforts to promote the uptake of emerging innovative technologies, processes and services.
  3. Giving impetus to the public and private research and innovation efforts required for rolling out innovative technologies, systems and business models which will speed up and lower the cost of transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.
  4. Establishing a more coherent framework for sustainable production and consumption. Reviewing product legislation with a view to improving the environmental performance and resource efficiency of products throughout their lifecycle. Setting targets for the reduction of the overall impact of consumption.
  5. Fully implementing EU waste legislation. This will include applying the waste hierarchy and the effective use of market-based instruments and measures to ensure that landfilling is effectively phased out, energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials, recycled waste is used as a major, reliable source of raw material for the EU, hazardous waste is safely managed and its generation is reduced, illegal waste shipments are eradicated and internal market barriers for environmentally-sound recycling activities in the EU are removed.
  6. Improving water efficiency by setting targets at river basin level and using market mechanisms, such as water pricing.


PRIORITY OBJECTIVE 3: In order to safeguard EU citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing, the programme shall ensure that by 2020:

  1. Air quality in the EU has significantly improved
  2. Noise pollution in the EU has significantly decreased.
  3. Citizens throughout the EU benefit from high standards for safe drinking and bathing water.
  4. The combination effects of chemicals and safety concerns related to endocrine disruptors are effectively addressed, and risks for the environment and health associated with the use of hazardous substances, including chemicals in products, is assessed and minimised.
  5. Safety concerns related to nanomaterials are effectively addressed as part of a coherent approach across different legislation.
  6. Decisive progress is made in adapting to climate change impacts.

This requires, in particular:

  1. Implementing updated EU policy on air quality, aligned with the latest scientific knowledge, and measures to combat air pollution at source.
  2. Implementing updated EU noise policy aligned with the latest scientific knowledge, and measures to reduce noise at source.
  3. Boosting efforts to implement the Drinking Water Directive, in particular for small drinking water suppliers, and the Bathing Water Directive.
  4. Developing an EU strategy for a non-toxic environment, supported by a comprehensive chemical exposure and toxicity knowledge base and conducive to innovation of sustainable substitutes.
  5. Agreeing and implementing an EU climate adaptation strategy, including the integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management considerations into key EU policy initiatives and sectors.


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