EC Comprehensive Review of Environment Policy
The European Commission is proposing a comprehensive review of   
environment policy. EIS reports that the thematic strategies in this area   
stem from its new approach aiming to improve EU law-making, simplify   
and clarify existing rules and propose less cumbersome framework   
legislation where new legislation is deemed necessary. They seek to   
reconcile strategic objectives with the interests of all economic   
stakeholders (companies, public authorities), in the least binding and most   
profitable way possible. This desire for 'better regulation' in the   
environment field is outlined in a working paper adopted by the   
Commission on September 28, which will serve as a basis for a policy   
debate on the issue at the October 17 Environment Council.  
The strategies adopted on September 21 on air pollution, waste prevention   
and recycling and the sustainable use of pesticides will revise policy   
and/or legislation in areas where there is a long-standing and extensive   
body of Community law. The others will take up new environmental   
challenges in an integrated perspective:  
付he natural resources strategy will provide an analytical framework for   
sustainable production and consumption policies, including waste   
付he soil and marine strategies will complement air and water policy to   
cover the primary environment media  
付he urban strategy will examine the specific problems of the urban   
environment and looks at sustainable transport, sustainable   
construction and integrated environmental management   
The 6th Action Programme on the Environment calls for seven thematic   
strategies to be drawn up on: air pollution, the marine environment, the   
sustainable use of resources, waste prevention and recycling, the   
sustainable use of pesticides, soil protection and the urban environment.   
During the general policy debate on environment policy on June 20, the   
Commission confirmed that this approach will be maintained, providing   
clear guidelines for Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to gu  
arantee compatibility with the Lisbon Agenda.  
The Commission indicates that these strategies will provide a broad   
analysis of issues by theme, looking at the impact on specific environment   
themes (for example, air pollutants such as particulate matter affecting   
health, loss of biodiversity), impacts which cut across environment themes   
(climate change, biodiversity loss) and links between the environmental   
impact and sector-specific policies (such as the impact of transport,   
energy, agriculture on air, soil, water etc).  
They aim to strike the right balance between environmental protection and   
the Lisbon objectives of growth and jobs. To this end, they will look at a   
broad range of options and a varied policy mix, including the use of   
market-based instruments, technology deployment and innovation to deal   
with the identified problems in a strategic and effective manner. Each   
strategy will take the form of a package comprising an overall approach   
towards the thematic issue presented in a Communication highlighting   
issues and proposed solutions, legislative proposals for some of the   
strategies, followed by an impact assessment.  
Subsidiarity and proportionality  
The strategies will look at a broad range of options and a varied policy mix   
ranging from the status quo to regulatory alternatives and use of   
market-based instruments. The principles of subsidiarity and   
proportionality will be taken into account so it will be up to member states   
to choose the most appropriate way to achieve desired objectives. By way   
of example, the marine strategy will be tailored to take the diversity of the   
various seas into account and suggests a regional eco-system.  
The Commission also points out that the economic (including   
competitiveness of EU industry) social and environmental impact of the   
policy options are being examined, notably through a cost-benefit   
analysis. These impact analyses will allow for the choice of preferred   
options in which expected benefits outweigh costs. However, given that   
costs of taking remedial action can be higher than taking timely innovative,   
preventative action, the costs of inaction are also being examined.  
The Commission emphasises that the drive to simplify environmental   
regulation is not a novelty, as reflected in the adoption of the Water   
Framework Directive in 2000 (Directive 60/2000/EC) which rationalised the   
EU's water legislation by replacing seven earlier Directives on surface   
water, fish water, shellfish water, groundwater and dangerous substances.  
In those areas where there is existing legislation, such as air and waste,   
the thematic strategies aim at simplification; out-of-date provisions will be   
repealed or revised and any duplication cut away. The air pollution   
strategy, for example, will consolidate five existing separate pieces of air   
quality legislation in one single Directive.  
Where possible, the thematic strategies will use existing instruments and   
policies, rather than new proposals, to bring about new policy goals. For   
example, the pesticides strategy is being designed in close cooperation   
with the revision of Directive 91/414/EEC on the approval of active   
substances in plant health products. Where the strategies require action   
to be taken on particular products, these will be taken primarily on a   
voluntary basis under the Integrated Product Policy, and where   
eco-efficient innovations need to be promoted, the environmental   
technologies action plan (COM(2004)38).  
News article posted courtesy of Resource Recovery Forum: 
Posted: 11/10/2005 By: Professor Paul Bardos