7th EAP: Member states lay out expectations
By Anne Eckstein | Monday 11 June 2012
The 7th Environmental Action Programme (EAP) should be more targeted than the current programme, and an “ambitious and mobilising” vision for environmental policy in the EU until 2050, founded on an inclusive, ‘green’ and competitive European economy, should be proposed. This was the gist of conclusions adopted by the member states’ environment ministers, on 11 June
(1).The Council emphasised that the EAP should be linked to the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy and other relevant strategies, including the strategy for sustainable development. Danish Environment Minister and President of the Council Ida Auken was pleased with the conclusions, and invited the Commission to present its proposal as soon as possible.
The main stumbling block in the adoption of these conclusions concerned the second paragraph, with certain member states questioning the reference to the ‘Road map for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050’. Some found this reference too explicit, while others considered it indispensable, fearing that the absence of such a reference, or making it too vague, would reduce the EU’s ambitiousness on this matter. The suggestion that the phrase ‘taking into account the road map’ could be replaced with ‘a strategy towards a low-carbon economy’ was not accepted by some member states, including Belgium and France, with Paris underlining that since it is more precise on objectives and timetable, ‘road map’ - which has already been formally proposed - goes a step further than ‘strategy’.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik attempted to reassure member states by emphasising that “whatever text is adopted, and whether this reference is included or not, the Commission will take the road map into account in its proposal for a 7th EAP”. At the same time, he also reminded them that, “very fortunately” - as the French delegation also underlined - “the Commission has the right of initiative”. Belgium insisted on having the commissioner’s formal assurance on this matter, but the French delegation said Potocnik had been “very clear” that he will take the road map into account, even if the text adopted does not mention it explicitly.
REALISTIC AND ACHIEVABLE PRIORITIES
In concrete terms, the Council is pressing the Commission to identify realistic and achievable priorities, as well as economically efficient indicators and actions for 2020, and to propose an ambitious vision for environmental policy until 2050. The Council stresses that the 7th EAP should emphasise the need to reinforce implementation of legislation.
Member states laid out the priorities they would like to see included in the 7th EAP: biodiversity, climate, water, management of resources and urban waste, environment and health. In particular, they called for the development of new legislation on the safe use of new materials, such as nanotechnologies and endocrine disruptors, the identification and assessment of combinations of chemical products (the ‘cocktail effect’) the reduction of exposure to dangerous substances, noise reduction and the improvement of air quality inside buildings.
The Council emphasised the transition to a ‘green’ economy, and to this end, the need to integrate the environment into other policies. The use of resources should be separated from economic activities, and the environmental impact of this usage should be reduced, in line with the road map for efficient use of resources. Finally, the Council welcomed the action plan for eco-innovation proposed by the Commission, as well as European partnerships for innovation.
Like Potocnik, Auken stressed that the EU should present a coherent position at the world conference on sustainable development (Rio+20, 20-22 June), and prove that it is also doing what it asks its partners to do on the international level.(1) The document is available at
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