News in Brief, BB200706
Mid-term review of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme (6th EAP) and Report of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP)
On 3 May 2007, the European Commission carried out its mid-term review of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme, concluding that implementation of policy measures is on track and that further action is needed, notably with respect to climate change. The mid-term review of the 6th EAP was accompanied by the Annual Environment Policy Review for 2006, which identifies climate change as the highest priority, and by the Review of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP).
Mid-term review of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme
The 6th EAP was adopted in 2002 to provide a strategic framework for EU action in the field of the environment up to 2012, prioritising action on climate change, nature and biodiversity, natural resources and waste, and the environment and health. For each of these priority areas, the 6th EAP sets out specific objectives and priority actions. The mid-term review of the 6th EAP evaluates the progress made in its implementation and assesses, in light of the most recent scientific evidence, whether there is a need to revise the Community’s environmental priorities.
In the mid-term review, the European Commission identifies “several gaps” between its objectives and the measures taken so far by EU policymakers to meet these objectives. The Commission says that to plug these gaps, “measures will have to be strengthened or new ones adopted.” However, the review offers little detail on exactly where the programme is failing, or what action the Commission intends to take. It only makes general recommendations, urging a focus on improving the implementation of existing legislation, increasing coherence between environmental policies and decision making in other sectors, and shifting taxation from labour to environmental protection.
In the fight against global climate change, the European Commission focuses its mid-term review of the 6th EAP on European leadership. In the coming years, the Commission intends to capitalise on this leadership by setting “the agenda for a new international agreement” to take effect after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. In addition to further developing climate change policies to reduce emissions both in the EU and globally, the Commission intends to focus on developing climate change adaptation policies. In particular, the Commission will present a proposal to improve the functioning of the Emissions Trading Scheme, initiate a consultation period with a Green Paper on Adaptation to Climate Change, and present a decision on a Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund to benefit developing countries and economies in transition.
Environment Policy Review 2006
On 3 May 2007, the Commission also adopted its annual Environment Policy Review for 2006, which reports on the previous year’s EU policy developments and looks in detail at Member States’ policy performance. The review identified climate change as the highest priority in 2006, as illustrated by work that culminated in the EU climate and energy package, and proposals to expand the EU carbon trading scheme.
Review of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan
The importance of technology and “eco-innovation” in the fight against climate change was also stressed by the Commission. In a review of its Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), the Commission confirms the strong growth of eco-industries, which already represent 2.1% of the EU’s GDP. While acknowledging this progress, the report also stresses the need for further development.
The European Commission also highlights the success of the wind power sector and other renewables, citing them as examples that “must be emulated in other areas”.
The ETAP report concludes by calling EU and national policy makers to create “compelling forces” to guide industry towards more sustainable technologies. The Commission thus proposes mobilising tools based on market mechanisms (such as taxes and the European emissions trading scheme), reviewing the guidelines for State aid in terms of the environment, developing “green” public markets and acting directly on the market by stimulating demand.
6th EAP: Communication on the Mid-term review of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme
6th EAP: Impact assessment
6th EAP: Executive summary of the impact assessment
2006 Environment Policy Review
2006 Environment Policy Review: annex
Report of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (2005-2006)