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7th EU Environment Action Programme Agreed

It’s often difficult to get excited about aspirational documents emanating from the EU. However, since the 1970s, EU Environment Action Programmes have set the agenda for developments in both policy and legislation. The 7th, titled “Living well, within the limits of our planet" was recently agreed and runs until 2020. Some of the more significant elements are as follows:

  • Limit landfilling to non-recyclable and non-recoverable waste by 2020;
  • Develop a legally binding framework beyond 2020 to enable Member States and industry to make the necessary investments in emissions reduction, energy efficiency and renewable energy, taking into account the indicative milestones set out in the Low Carbon Economy Roadmap to 2050;
  • Address EU soil quality issues including consideration of  a binding legal framework;
  • Establish a more coherent policy and legislative framework for sustainable consumption and production;
  • Establish an EU-wide quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter;
  • Address the combination effects of chemicals and safety concerns related to endocrine disruptors and nanomaterials across all relevant EU legislation;
  • Further develop inspection support capacity at EU level, in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of inspections. This is intended to contribute towards a more level playing field within the EU;
  • Phase-out environmentally harmful subsidies at Member State and EU level;
  • Integration of environmental considerations including water protection and biodiversity conservation into land use planning decisions, with a view to making progress towards the objective of no net land take by 2050.

So we can expect that most of the EU, and therefore Irish, environmental legislative initiatives will be based on the above list for the foreseeable future.