European Commission Evaluates 2002-2012 Environment Action Programme

31 August 2011: The European Commission has unveiled its final assessment of the implementation of the sixth Environment Action Programme (EAP) of the EU over the past decade, highlighting progress, shortcomings and lessons learned in relation to biodiversity, climate change and the green economy.

According to the assessment, major accomplishments in the field of environment during the past ten years have been the extension of the protected area network ‘Natura 2000' to cover almost 18% of the EU's land area, and the introduction of a comprehensive chemicals policy and policy action on climate change. The assessment also highlights challenges encountered in improving soil and water quality and decoupling of resource use from economic growth.

The report concludes that: more progress could have been made towards the goal of halting the decline of biodiversity by 2010 had it been matched by the necessary political attention and financial commitments from both EU and member States; progress on climate change was facilitated by increased public interest in the issue, although the ability to make a clear cost-benefits case for action, as well as political commitment at EU Heads of State level to key policy objectives, remain essential; and an agreed vision setting out key objectives should be the starting point for future EU action to tackle global and regional environmental problems, with a view to mobilizing limited financial resources in the optimum way.

The report also highlights that the EU should promote the green economy at the global level, leveraging its potential as a marketplace of some 500 million people to promote sustainable green growth beyond its borders, including among the beneficiaries of EU aid, while continuing to strive for improving the science base of policy-making for global environmental governance and for integrating environmental and low-carbon considerations into business models in other sectors. [EU Press Release] [Publication: The Sixth Community Environment Action Programme - Final Assessment]