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Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice

Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice
Environment policy is one of the success stories of the European Union – thanks to European Union legislation we have made significant improvements such as cleaner air and safer drinking water.

The Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community

"Environment policy is one of the success stories of the European Union – thanks to European Union legislation we have made significant improvements such as cleaner air and safer drinking water. But we still face some real problems" explained Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallstrom when she presented the Commission’s proposal. The new Environment Action Programme takes a wide-ranging approach to these challenges and gives a strategic direction to the Commission’s environmental policy over the next decade, as the Community prepares to expand its boundaries.

Four priority areas for urgent action

The new programme identifies four environmental areas to be tackled for improvements:

  • Climate Change
  • Nature and Biodiversity
  • Environment and Health and quality of life
  • Natural Resources and Waste

Ambitious challenges demand innovative recipes

No single and easy solution is available, all forces need to be combined. This is why the new Programme sets out the following main avenues for action to be explored.

  • Effective implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation ¾ necessary to set a common baseline for all EU countries
  • Integration of environmental concerns ¾ environmental problems have to be tackled were their source is and this is frequently in other policies.
  • Use of a blend of instruments ¾ all types of instruments have to be considered, the essential criterion for choice being that it has to offer the best efficiency and effectiveness possible.
  • Stimulation of participation and action of all actors from business to citizens, NGOs and social partners ¾ through better and more accessible information on the environment and joint work on solutions.

Environment contribution to our commitment towards Sustainable Development

The new Programme provides the environmental component of the Community’s strategy for sustainable development, placing our environmental plans in a broad perspective, considering economic and social conditions. It also makes the link between environment and our European objectives for growth and competitiveness.

The following documents are available by clicking the language icon or link.

Press release

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Full text of the Sixth Environment Action Programme COM(2001)31 

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Executive Summary 

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Booklet: "Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice" 

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Background Information 
(including consultation results on the Global Assessment, and details of previous Action Programmes)

Seven thematic strategies:

Thematic Strategies are one component of the actions foreseen within the 6th EAP. This concept was introduced as a specific way to tackle seven key environmental issues, which require a holistic approach because of

  • their complexity,
  • the diversity of actors concerned and
  • the need to find multiple and innovative solutions.

The Seven Thematic Strategies will be developed according to a common approach independently of the specific content requirements relating to their subject matter - Soil protection; Protection and conservation of the marine environment; Sustainable use of pesticides; Air pollution; Urban environment; Sustainable use and management of resources; Waste recycling.

This common approach is basically incremental and aims at combining need for substantiated elements and need for policy action and proposals. This is why all the Strategies will be presented in 2 stages.

Stage 1

A presentation and analysis of the "état des lieux" in the environmental area concerned by the Thematic Strategy, as well as a clear and understandable definition of the problem to be solved. This includes the methodology used to draw this overall picture, the stakeholders actively involved in the analysis and the main points of their position. In general, any element that can help substantiate the approach chosen to ‘solve’ the problem should be incorporated. This is the only way to make sure proposals are solid and have the scientific/technical/economic and social backup to overcome counter-arguments.

Stage 2

A presentation of objectives and targets answering to the problem identified, together with a set of proposals that will contribute to solving the problems. This set of proposals should be precise measures, accompanied by their objectives and timetables, and capable of implementation.

After adoption of the Thematic Strategies the proposals will be developed progressively, on the basis of the approved general framework.

The seven strategies:

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