For your own reference, a description of the objectives is provided below.
This description can also be found at the following link: Description of the 7th EAP objectives
Priority Objectives of the 7th EAP & relevant sub-objectives
Objective 1. To protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital
(a) the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services, including pollination, are halted, ecosystems and their services are maintained and at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems have been restored;
(b) the impact of pressures on transitional, coastal and fresh waters (including surface and ground waters) is significantly reduced to achieve, maintain or enhance good status, as defined by the Water Framework Directive;
(c) the impact of pressures on marine waters is reduced to achieve or maintain good environmental status, as required by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and coastal zones are managed sustainably;
(d) air pollution and its impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity are further reduced with the long-term aim of not exceeding critical loads and levels;
(e) land is managed sustainably in the Union, soil is adequately protected and the remediation of contaminated sites is well underway;
(f) the nutrient cycle (nitrogen and phosphorus) is managed in a more sustainable and resource-efficient way;
(g) forest management is sustainable, and forests, their biodiversity and the services they provide are protected and, as far as feasible, enhanced and the resilience of forests to climate change, fires, storms, pests and diseases is improved.
This requires, in particular:
- stepping up the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy without delay, in order to meet its targets;
- fully implementing the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources, having due regard for Member States’ specific circumstances, and ensuring that water quality objectives are adequately supported by source-based policy measures;
- urgently increasing efforts, inter alia, to ensure that healthy fish stocks are achieved in line with the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and international obligations. Combating pollution and establishing a Union-wide quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter supported by source-based measures and taking into account the marine strategies established by Member States. Completing the Natura 2000 network of marine protected areas, and ensuring that coastal zones are managed sustainably;
- agreeing and implementing an EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, including the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation into key Union policy initiatives and sectors;
- strengthening efforts to reach full compliance with Union air quality legislation and defining strategic targets and actions beyond 2020;
- increasing efforts to reduce soil erosion and increase soil organic matter, to remediate contaminated sites and to enhance the integration of land use aspects into coordinated decision-making involving all relevant levels of government, supported by the adoption of targets on soil and on land as a resource, and land planning objectives;
- taking further steps to reduce emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus, including those from urban and industrial wastewater and from fertiliser use, inter alia through better source control, and the recovery of waste phosphorus;
- developing and implementing a renewed Union Forest Strategy that addresses the multiple demands on, and benefits of, forests and contributes to a more strategic approach to protecting and enhancing forests, including through sustainable forest management;
- enhancing Union public information provision, awareness and education on environment policy.
Objective 2. To turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy
(a) the Union has met its 2020 climate and energy targets and is working towards reducing by 2050 GHG emissions by 80–95 % compared to 1990 levels, as part of a global effort to limit the average temperature increase below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels, with the agreement of a climate and energy framework for 2030 as a key step in this process;
(b) the overall environmental impact of all major sectors of the Union economy is significantly reduced, resource efficiency has increased, and benchmarking and measurement methodologies are in place. Market and policy incentives that foster business investments in resource efficiency are in place, while green growth is stimulated through measures to foster innovation;
(c) structural changes in production, technology and innovation, as well as consumption patterns and lifestyles have reduced the overall environmental impact of production and consumption, in particular in the food, housing and mobility sectors;
(d) waste is safely managed as a resource and to prevent harm to health and the environment, absolute waste generation and waste generated per capita are in decline, landfilling is limited to residual (i.e. non-recyclable and non-recoverable) waste, having regard to the postponements provided for in Article 5(2) of the Landfill Directive and energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials, having regard to Article 4(2) of the Waste Framework Directive ;
(e) water stress in the Union is prevented or significantly reduced
This requires, in particular:
- fully implementing the Climate and Energy Package and urgently agreeing on the Union’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework, with due regard for the most recent IPCC assessment report, taking into account the indicative milestones set out in the Low-Carbon Roadmap, as well as developments within the UNFCCC and other relevant processes;
- generalising the application of ‘Best Available Techniques’ in the context of the Industrial Emissions Directive and enhancing efforts to promote the uptake of emerging innovative technologies, processes and services;
- giving impetus to the public and private research and innovation efforts required for the development and uptake of innovative technologies, systems and business models which will speed up and lower the cost of transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, safe and sustainable economy. Further developing the approach set out in the Eco-innovation Action Plan, identifying priorities for incremental innovation as well as system changes, promoting a larger market share of green technologies in the Union and enhancing the competitiveness of the European eco-industry. Establishing indicators and setting realistic and achievable targets for resource efficiency;
- developing measurement and benchmarking methodologies by 2015 for resource efficiency of land, carbon, water and material use and assessing the appropriateness of the inclusion of a lead indicator and target in the European Semester;
- establishing a more coherent policy framework for sustainable production and consumption including, where appropriate, the consolidation of existing instruments into a coherent legal framework. Reviewing product legislation with a view to improving the environmental performance and resource efficiency of products throughout their lifecycle. Stimulating consumer demand for environmentally sustainable products and services through policies which promote their availability, affordability, functionality and attractiveness. Developing indicators and realistic and achievable targets for the reduction of the overall impact of consumption;
- developing training programmes geared towards green jobs;
- increasing efforts to reach existing targets and reviewing approaches to green public procurement, including its scope, in order to increase its effectiveness. Establishing a voluntary green purchaser network for Union businesses;
- fully implementing Union waste legislation. Such implementation will include applying the waste hierarchy in accordance with the Waste Framework Directive and the effective use of market-based instruments and other measures to ensure that: (1) landfilling is limited to residual (i.e. non-recyclable and non-recoverable) waste, having regard to the postponements provided for in Article 5(2) of the Landfill Directive; (2) energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials, having regard to Article 4(2) of the Waste Framework Directive; (3) recycled waste is used as a major, reliable source of raw material for the Union, through the development of non-toxic material cycles; (4) hazardous waste is safely managed and its generation is reduced; (5) illegal waste shipments are eradicated, with the support of stringent monitoring; and (6) food waste is reduced. Reviews of existing product and waste legislation are carried out, including a review of the main targets of the relevant waste directives, informed by the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, so as to move towards a circular economy; and internal market barriers for environmentally-sound recycling activities in the Union are removed. Public information campaigns are required to build awareness and understanding of waste policy and to stimulate a change in behaviour;
- improving water efficiency by setting and monitoring targets at river basin level on the basis of a common methodology for water efficiency targets to be developed under the Common Implementation Strategy process, and using market mechanisms, such as water pricing, as provided for in Article 9 of the Water Framework Directive and, where appropriate, other market measures. Developing approaches to manage the use of treated wastewater
Objective 3. To safeguard the Union’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing
(a) outdoor air quality in the Union has significantly improved, moving closer to WHO recommended levels, while indoor air quality has improved, informed by the relevant WHO guidelines;
(b) noise pollution in the Union has significantly decreased, moving closer to WHO recommended levels;
(c) citizens throughout the Union benefit from high standards for safe drinking and bathing water;
(d) the combination effects of chemicals and safety concerns related to endocrine disruptors are effectively addressed in all relevant Union legislation, and risks for the environment and health, in particular in relation to children, associated with the use of hazardous substances, including chemicals in products, are assessed and minimised. Long-term actions with a view to reaching the objective of a non-toxic environment will be identified;
(e) the use of plant protection products does not have any harmful effects on human health or unacceptable influence on the environment, and such products are used sustainably;
(f) safety concerns related to nanomaterials and materials with similar properties are effectively addressed as part of a coherent approach in legislation;
(g) decisive progress is made in adapting to the impact of climate change.
This requires, in particular:
- implementing an updated Union air quality policy, aligned with the latest scientific knowledge, and developing and implementing measures to combat air pollution at source taking into account the differences between the sources of indoor and outdoor air pollution;
- implementing an updated Union noise policy aligned with the latest scientific knowledge, and measures to reduce noise at source, and including improvements in city design;
- increasing efforts to implement the Water Framework Directive, the Bathing Water Directive (65) and the Drinking Water Directive (66), in particular for small drinking water supplies;
- continuing to implement REACH in order to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment as well as the free circulation of chemicals within the internal market while enhancing competitiveness and innovation, while being mindful of the specific needs of SMEs. Developing by 2018 a Union strategy for a non-toxic environment that is conducive to innovation and the development of sustainable substitutes including non-chemical solutions, building on horizontal measures to be undertaken by 2015 to ensure: (1) the safety of manufactured nanomaterials and materials with similar properties; (2) the minimisation of exposure to endocrine disruptors; (3) appropriate regulatory approaches to address combination effects of chemicals and (4) the minimisation of exposure to chemicals in products, including, inter alia, imported products, with a view to promoting non-toxic material cycles and reducing indoor exposure to harmful substances;
- monitoring the implementation of Union legislation on the sustainable use of biocidal products and plant protection products and reviewing it, as necessary, to keep it up to date with the latest scientific knowledge;
- agreeing and implementing an EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, including the integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management considerations into key Union policy initiatives and sectors.
Objective 4. To maximise the benefits of Union environment legislation by improving implementation
(a) the public has access to clear information showing how Union environment law is being implemented consistent with the Aarhus Convention;
(b) compliance with specific environment legislation has increased;
(c) Union environment law is enforced at all administrative levels and a level-playing field in the internal market is guaranteed;
(d) citizens’ trust and confidence in Union environment law and its enforcement is enhanced;
(e) the principle of effective legal protection for citizens and their organisations is facilitated.
This requires, in particular:
- ensuring that systems at national level actively disseminate information about how Union environment legislation is being implemented, and complementing such information with a Union level overview of individual Member States’ performance;
- drawing up partnership implementation agreements on a voluntary basis between Member States and the Commission, involving local and regional participation where appropriate;
- extending binding criteria for effective Member State inspections and surveillance to the wider body of Union environment law, and further developing inspection support capacity at Union level, drawing on existing structures, backed up by support for networks of professionals such as IMPEL, and by the reinforcement of peer reviews and best practice sharing, with a view to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of inspections;
- ensuring consistent and effective mechanisms at national level for the handling of complaints about implementation of Union environment law;
- ensuring that national provisions on access to justice reflect the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Promoting non-judicial dispute resolution as a means of finding amicable and effective solutions for disputes in the environmental field.
Objective 5. To improve the knowledge and evidence base for Union environment policy
(a) policy-makers and stakeholders have a more informed basis for developing and implementing environment and climate policies, including understanding the environmental impacts of human activities and measuring the costs and benefits of action and the costs of inaction;
(b) the understanding of, and the ability to evaluate and manage, emerging environmental and climate risks are greatly improved;
(c) the environment science-policy interface is strengthened, including the accessibility of data for citizens and the contribution of citizens’ science;
(d) the impact of the Union and its Member States in international science-policy fora is enhanced in order to improve the knowledge base for international environment policy.
This requires, in particular:
- coordinating, sharing and promoting research efforts at Union and Member State level with regard to addressing key environmental knowledge gaps, including the risks of crossing environmental tipping-points and planetary boundaries;
- adopting a systematic and integrated approach to risk management, particularly in relation to the evaluation and management of new and emerging policy areas and related risks as well as the adequacy and coherence of regulatory responses. This could help to stimulate further research on the hazards of new products, processes and technologies;
- simplifying, streamlining and modernising environmental and climate change data and information collection, management, sharing and re-use, including the development and implementation of a Shared Environmental Information System;
- developing a comprehensive chemical exposure and toxicity knowledge base which draws on data generated without animal testing where possible. Continuing the Union’s coordinated approach to human and environmental biomonitoring including, where appropriate, standardisation of research protocols and assessment criteria;
- intensifying cooperation at international, Union and Member State level on the environment science-policy interface.
Objective 6. To secure investment for environment and climate policy and address environmental externalities.
(a) environment and climate policy objectives are achieved in a cost-effective way and are supported by adequate finance;
(b) public and private sector funding for environment and climate-related expenditure is increased;
(c) the value of natural capital and ecosystem services, as well as the costs of their degradation are properly assessed and considered in policy-making and investments.
This requires, in particular:
- phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies at Union and Member State level without delay, and reporting on progress through the National Reform Programmes; increasing the use of market-based instruments, such as Member States’ taxation policies, pricing and charging, and expanding markets for environmental goods and services, with due regard to any adverse social impacts, using an action-based approach, supported and monitored by the Commission, inter alia, via the European Semester;
- facilitating the development of, and access to, innovative financial instruments and funding for eco-innovation;
- adequately reflecting environment and climate priorities in policies and funding strategies to support economic, social and territorial cohesion;
- making dedicated efforts to ensure the full and efficient use of available Union funding for environmental action, including by significantly improving its early uptake under the Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework 2014–2020 and devoting 20 % of the budget to climate change mitigation and adaptation through the mainstreaming of climate action and linking that funding to clear benchmarks, target setting, monitoring and reporting;
- developing and applying a system for reporting and tracking environment-related expenditure in the Union budget, in particular expenditure on climate change and biodiversity, by 2014;
- integrating environmental and climate-related considerations into the European Semester process, where this is relevant for individual Member States’ prospects for sustainable growth and is appropriate for country-specific recommendations;
- developing and applying alternative indicators that complement and go beyond GDP to monitor the sustainability of progress and continuing work to integrate economic indicators with environmental and social indicators, including by means of natural capital accounting;
- further developing and encouraging ‘payments for ecosystem services’ schemes;
putting in place incentives and methodologies that stimulate companies to measure the environmental costs of their business and profits derived from using environmental services and to disclose environmental information as part of their annual reporting. Encouraging companies to exercise due diligence, including throughout their supply chain.
Objective 7. To improve environmental integration and policy coherence
(a) sectoral policies at Union and Member State level are developed and implemented in a way that supports relevant environment and climate-related targets and objectives.
This requires, in particular:
- integrating environmental and climate-related conditionalities and incentives in policy initiatives, including reviews and reforms of existing policy, as well as new initiatives, at Union and Member State level;
- carrying out ex-ante assessments of the environmental, social and economic impacts of policy initiatives at appropriate Union and Member State level to ensure their coherence and effectiveness;
- fully implementing the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive;
- using ex-post evaluation information relating to experience with implementation of the environment acquis in order to improve its consistency and coherence
- addressing potential trade-offs in all policies in order to maximise synergies and avoid, reduce and, if possible, remedy unintended negative effects on the environment.
Objective 8. To enhance the sustainability of the Union’s cities.
(a) a majority of cities in the Union are implementing policies for sustainable urban planning and design, including innovative approaches for urban public transport and mobility, sustainable buildings, energy efficiency and urban biodiversity conservation.
This requires, in particular:
- agreeing on a set of criteria to assess the environmental performance of cities, taking into account economic, social and territorial impacts;
- ensuring that cities have information about, and better access to, financing for measures to improve urban sustainability;
- sharing best practice between cities at Union and international level in relation to innovative and sustainable urban development;
- in the context of ongoing Union initiatives and networks, developing and promoting a common understanding of how to contribute to improved urban environments by focusing on the integration of urban planning with objectives related to resource efficiency, an innovative safe and sustainable low-carbon economy, sustainable urban land-use, sustainable urban mobility, urban biodiversity management and conservation, ecosystem resilience, water management, human health, public participation in decision-making and environmental education and awareness.
Objective 9. To increase the Union’s effectiveness in addressing international environment and climate-related challenges.
(a) the outcomes of Rio + 20 are fully integrated into the Union’s internal and external policies and the Union is contributing effectively to global efforts to implement agreed commitments, including those under the Rio conventions and to initiatives aimed at promoting the global transition towards an inclusive and green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication;
(b) the Union is providing effective support to national, regional and international efforts to address environmental and climate-related challenges and to ensure sustainable development;
(c) the impact of consumption in the Union on the environment beyond the Union’s borders is reduced.
This requires, in particular:
- working as part of a coherent and comprehensive post-2015 approach to the universal challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and through an inclusive, collaborative process, towards the adoption of sustainable development goals that:
- are coherent with existing internationally agreed goals and targets on, inter alia, biodiversity, climate change, social inclusion and social protection floors;
- address, at national and international level, priority areas such as energy, water, food security, oceans and sustainable consumption and production, decent work, good governance and the rule of law;
- are universally applicable, covering all three dimensions of sustainable development;
- are assessed and accompanied by targets and indicators, while taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development, and
- are consistent with, and supportive of, other international commitments, such as those concerning climate change and biodiversity;
- working towards a more effective UN structure for sustainable development, in particular its environmental dimension by:
- further strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in line with the outcome of Rio + 20, building on the decision by the UN General Assembly to change the designation of the Governing Council of the UNEP to the UN Environment Assembly of the UNEP (93), while continuing to strive for an upgrade of the UNEP’s status to that of a specialised Agency;
- supporting efforts to enhance synergies between multilateral environmental agreements, in particular in the chemicals and waste cluster and the biodiversity cluster; and
- contributing to ensuring a strong and authoritative voice for the environment in the work of the High-Level Political Forum
- strengthening the impact of various sources of funding, including taxation and domestic resource mobilisation, private investment, new partnerships and innovative financing sources, and creating options for using development aid to leverage those other sources of financing as part of a sustainable development financing strategy, as well as in the Union’s own policies, including international commitments on climate and biodiversity finance;
- engaging with partner countries in a more strategic way, for example by focusing cooperation with:
- strategic partners on the promotion of best practice in domestic environment policy and legislation and convergence in multilateral environmental negotiations;
- countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy on gradual approximation with key Union environment and climate policy and legislation and on strengthening cooperation to address regional environmental and climate-related challenges;
- developing countries to support their efforts to protect the environment, fight climate change and reduce natural disasters, and implement international environmental commitments as a contribution to poverty reduction and sustainable development;
- engaging in existing and new multilateral environmental and other relevant processes, in a more consistent, proactive and effective way, including through the timely outreach to third countries and other stakeholders, with a view to ensuring that commitments for 2020 are met at Union level and promoted globally, and to agree on international action to be taken beyond 2020, and ratifying and boosting efforts to implement all key multilateral environmental agreements well before 2020. Implementing the 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production;
- assessing the environmental impact, in a global context, of Union consumption of food and non-food commodities and, if appropriate, developing policy proposals to address the findings of such assessments, and considering the development of a Union action plan on deforestation and forest degradation;
- promoting the further development and implementation of emissions trading schemes around the world and facilitating the linking of such systems;
- ensuring that economic and social progress is achieved within the carrying capacity of the Earth, by increasing understanding of planetary boundaries, inter alia, in the development of the post-2015 framework in order to secure human well-being and prosperity in the long-term.