|IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.|
The Commission's overall environmental policy is set out in the Fifth Environmental Action Programme. A cornerstone of this programme is achieving sustainability - meeting our generation's needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
As its title 'Towards Sustainability' implies, the programme sets long term objectives and focuses on a global approach. It is underpinned by two major principles:
This approach was reinforced by the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, which represented a breakthrough in addressing environmental issues at the European level. The Treaty enshrined sustainable development as one of the EU's tasks and strengthened the principle that environmental protection must be integrated into all European policies and activities.
Realising these goals requires a wide range of instruments, of which research and development is just one.
Environment, One Market
Alongside the regulatory mandate, EU environmental policy is developing a wide range of activities and initiatives. These include improving environmental data - which led to the creation of the European Environmental Agency in 1994 - financial support mechanisms, information and education programmes, promoting ecolabels, and economic measures aimed at incorporating the 'true cost' of environmental protection into the prices of goods and services.
One of the most challenging issues in sustainable energy is the European commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as agreed at the Kyoto conference in 1997. This puts energy efficiency policy firmly at the top of the list of priorities. In addition, the EU runs a number of programmes devoted to promoting renewable energy strategies, as well as ensuring the safety and security of nuclear materials in Europe.