EU 7th Environment Action Programme: A Work in Progress

Earth Puzzle
Earth Puzzle

The proposed 7th Environment Action Programme under the title of “Living well, within the limits of our planet” is being consulted with Member States by the European Commission, which will determine the policy and strategy for the environment across all 27 Member States until 2020.

It should be recalled that the general environment action programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early seventies. The Sixth EU Environment Action Programme covering the period 2002-2012 will be replaced by the 7th programme.

There have been significant achievements of 40 years of EU environment policy and a number of recent strategic initiatives in the field of environment, including the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Low Carbon Economy Roadmap. The Commission believes that the new draft Programme will step up the contribution of EU environment policy in achieving a resource efficient, low-carbon economy, and providing an overarching framework to 2020.

The 7th programme should secure the commitment of EU institutions, Member States, regional and local administrations and other stakeholders to a common agenda for environment policy action up to 2020 in relation to the following nine strategic, priority objectives with the intention of a clearer focus on better implementation of EU environment policy:

Three thematic priority objectives are intended to

  • Protect nature and strengthen ecological resilience
  • Boost sustainable resource-efficient low-carbon growth, and
  • Effectively address environment-related threats to health.

The thematic priorities are supported by an enabling framework with four further priority objectives which will:

  • promote better implementation of EU environment law,
  • ensure that policies benefit from state of the art science,
  • secure the necessary investments in support of environment and climate change policy,
  • improve the way environmental concerns and requirements are reflected in other      policies.

Two more priority objectives focus on:

  • enhancing the sustainability of EU cities, and
  • improving the EU’s effectiveness in addressing regional and global challenges      related to the environment and climate change.

At present, the United kingdom Government is considering its position during February and March 2013 with consultation with Government Departments and Devolved Administrations. It is anticipated that the Government will have three main concerns with the

  • The proposals should promote sustainable growth and reduce (where practicable) the burdens on industry.
  • The development of new targets and legislation will require clear and robust justification.
  • There must be consistent use of Member State evidence and impact assessments to support environmental target development at EU level otherwise the new targets may become burdensome to businesses.

The UK’s input together with other Member States will be coordinated and discussed in Working Groups leading to consideration by the European Parliament ENVI committee (MEPs) in April, with a plenary vote expected in July once the ENVI committee have voted on its position.

Further information on the proposals for the European Union’s 7th Environment Action Programme can be found at

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