EU environmental policy analysed in new review

eu environmental policy
© iStock/LeoPatrizi

The European Commission has published its second annual Environmental Implementation Review, gauging the progress of EU environmental policy.

The review aims to improve the implementation of EU-wide policies addressing environmental issues and climate change by analysing the progress made by Member States towards applying these policies and identifying areas for improvement which require greater attention. Once the EU’s environmental policies have been fully implemented across all Member States, the bloc’s economy is projected to save up to €55 billion per year in healthcare and environmental costs.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “The Juncker Commission is committed to building a Europe that protects. Making sure that the air, water and waste management our citizens enjoy are of best quality and our natural capital is protected is our priority. The Environmental Implementation Review is there to help Member States to make that happen by providing them with the information and the tools they need.”

The Environmental Implementation Review detailed the following findings in the main EU environmental policy areas:

  • 18 Member States had concerningly high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions, while 15 countries showed unacceptably high levels of particulate matter emissions, leading the Commission to initiate clean air dialogues with Member States in hopes of reducing air pollution;
  • While five Member States had already achieved European waste prevention policy targets and nine more were on track to reach the targets by 2020, the remaining 14 risked missing targets on municipal recycling and waste reduction;
  • Around two thirds of Member States were found to have insufficient urban wastewater treatment processes, jeopardising the EU’s target of maintaining “good status of our water bodies” until at least 2027 – the review advocated greater investment in water treatment and preservation programmes;
  • Member States were found to have performed well overall on conservation and the EU has already met its target of designating 10 per cent of its coastal and marine areas as Marine Protected Areas by 2020: nonetheless, the review recommended increased effort on the part of Member States to preserve nature and biodiversity; and
  • The EU’s progress on climate change mitigation was also commended, with all Member States well on track to meet the bloc’s climate change reduction targets by 2020.

The review suggested Member States engage further with each other and with local and regional authorities to streamline environmental governance. It further recommended EU environmental policy targets be implemented with national policy developments, such as improving the practice of public administration and encouraging transparency from authorities and stakeholders.

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