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7th EAP priority objectives

eap eap international challenges information investments integration natural capital ressource-efficient


1. Natural capital: "Nurturing the hand that feeds us"

Natural capital refers to the biodiversity that provides goods and services we rely on, from fertile soil and productive land and seas to fresh water and clean air. It includes vital services such as pollination of plants, natural protection against flooding, and the regulation of our climate.

The EAP commits the EU and its Member States to speed up the implementation of existing strategies, fill gaps where legislation doesn't yet exist, and improve existing legislation, including the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources

2. Resource-efficient economy: "Doing more with less"

In the context of rising natural resource prices, scarcity and dependency on imports, Europe's competitiveness and capacity for sustainable growth will depend on improving resource efficiency across the economy.

The EAP sets out the conditions that will help transform the EU into a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. This requires:

  • Full delivery of the climate and energy package to achieve the 20-20-20 targets and agreement on the next steps for climate policy beyond 2020;
  • Significant improvements to the environmental performance of products over their life cycle;
  • Reductions in the environmental impact of consumption, including issues such as cutting food waste and using biomass in a sustainable way.

There is a special focus on turning waste into a resource and to move towards more efficient use of our water resources.

3. Healthy environment for healthy people: "Taking care of the environment is taking care of ourselves"

The third key action area covers challenges to human health and wellbeing, such as air and water pollution, excessive noise, and chemicals. We need to make sure that Europe is sufficiently resilient to challenges posed by new and emerging risks, including the impacts of climate change.

In the EAP, all parties agree to:

  • update air quality and noise legislation;
  • improve implementation of legislation relating to drinking and bathing water;
  • tackle hazardous chemicals, including nanomaterials, chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system and chemicals in combination, as part of a broader, strategic approach for a non-toxic environment.

Four "I"s to help Europe deliver on these goals

The programme includes an "enabling framework" with the next four priority objectives aiming towards:

  • Improved implementation
  • Increased information
  • Secured investments
  • More integration

4. Improved implementation: "Good for the environment, our health and our wallets"

Better implementation of existing legislation will bring numerous benefits for the environment, our health and the economy. Full implementation of EU waste legislation would:

  • save €72 billion a year;
  • increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42 billion; and
  • create over 400,000 new jobs by 2020

5. Increased information: "Best decisions based on latest data"

Scientific research, monitoring and reporting environmental developments mean that our understanding of the environment is constantly increasing. This knowledge base should be made more accessible to citizens and policymakers to ensure policy continues to draw on a sound understanding of the state of the environment.

The EAP aims to:

  • improve the way data and other information is collected, managed and used across the EU;
  • invest in research to fill knowledge gaps;
  • and develop a more systematic approach to new and emerging risks

6. Secured investments: "Green incentives mean green innovations"

Adequate investments and innovation in products, services and public policies will be needed from public and private sources, in order to achieve the objectives set out in the programme.

This can only happen if impacts on the environment are properly accounted for and if market signals also reflect the true costs to the environment.  This involves:

  • applying the polluter-pays principle more systematically;
  • phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies;
  • shifting taxation from labour towards pollution;
and expanding markets for environmental goods and services

7. Better integration: "Tackling multiple challenges with one approach"

Better integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas, such as regional policy, agriculture, fisheries, energy and transport will ensure better decision-making and coherent policy approaches that deliver multiple benefits.

Two further priority objectives complete the programme: tackling local and global challenges together.

8. Sustainable cities: "Working together for common solutions"

Europe is densely populated and 80 % of its citizens are likely to live in or near a city by 2020. Cities often share a common set of problems such as poor air quality, high levels of noise, greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, and waste.

The EAP aims to:

  • help cities become more sustainable;
  • promote and expand initiatives that support innovation and best practice sharing in cities;
  • ensure that by 2020, most cities in the EU are implementing policies for sustainable urban planning and design, and are using the EU funding available for this purpose

9. Tackling international challenges: "Living well, within the limits of our planet" is a global aim

Many of the priority objectives in the EAP can only be achieved in cooperation with partner countries or as part of a global approach. The EU and its Member States are committed to:

  • engage more effectively in working with international partners towards the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals as a follow-up to the Rio+20 conference;
  • further steps that could be taken to reduce impacts on the environment beyond EU borders