Environment issues are now firmly at the top of the political agenda, and command the attention of decision-makers, the media and the public. 80 % of EU citizens find the environment important for the quality of their life. A good example is climate change, particularly since the endorsement of the energy and climate change package in March 2007 by European Heads of State and Government. Instruments have been fine-tuned where possible under the Better Regulation exercise. Externally, the EU has kept the lead on environmental issues, backed up by solid achievements at home and by good bilateral and multilateral relations with key partners. In global negotiations it has secured significant advances in several areas, notably on climate in the Bali conference.
We need, however, to prepare for the major challenges ahead: defining a long-term strategic vision for sustainable consumption and production, adaptation to the inevitable climatic changes, and the protection of biodiversity. We should take advantage of the relatively light legislative calendar in 2008 and 2009 to advance now on these issues. At the international level, we face demanding negotiations to secure future international agreements on climate, and to preserve and manage biodiversity.