2006 environment policy review

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Courtesy of European Commission, Environment DG

In 2006, the EU’s long term environment policy  framework was consolidated with adoption of its revised Sustainable Development Strategy and the REACH regulation.  It has solid popular support with 72 %1 of citizens in favour of more decision-making at EU level on environmental protection. Four main sets of issues broadly defined
the year.
  • The volatile oil and gas prices, fear of supply disruption, and the climate change impact of energy use, led to calls for an integrated EU energy policy and increased interest in energy eficiency and renewables. The Stern review on climate change confirmed that the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of taking timely action.
  • The Biodiversity Communication and the EU Action Plan to 2010 and beyond were designed to speed up implementation of biodiversity measures.
  • Adoption of the last three of the seven Thematic Strategies - on Urban Environment, on Soil Protection and on Pesticides - will streamline and simplify the framework for future action.
  • The new reporting cycle for the Lisbon Strategy showed that the Member States increasingly accept that resource eficiency, climate change, and biodiversity loss are closely linked to growth and jobs.

This Review describes EU environment policy during 2006. First, it summarises the main policy developments for the four priorities of the 6th Environment Action Programme. It then examines Better Regulation initiatives, which make it simpler for business to comply, and easier for Member States to implement, while enhancing environmental standards.

The policies described were accompanied by active international outreach, including important progress on preparing  Bulgaria and Romania for EU membership and integrating environment into the EC’s external policies. The Commission proposed a long-term Environment Strategy2 to address the continuing degradation of the Mediterranean environment through more efective cooperation. It also presented a proposal for a Thematic Programme for Environment and the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, including Energy.

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