European Commission approves Thematic Strategy
on the Urban Environment
On 11 January 2004, the Commission adopted Communication COM(2004)60 “Towards a Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment” which sets out the Commission’s 
ideas for the Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment due in summer 2005. The Commission invites comments on these ideas by 15 April 2004. The Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment is one of the key actions outlined in the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme. The 7 Thematic Strategies
set out in the Programme are a new way of developing environmental policy for complex priority problems that require a broad approach. They are being developed
in 2 stages. The first stage is one of widespread consultation and analysis which ends with an interim Communication. Communication COM(2004)60 is that interim
Communication for the Urban Environment Strategy. A second round of consultation takes place on these initial ideas and they are discussed and developed further
and will lead to the Commission’s final strategy. The final Strategy on the urban environment will be presented by the Commission in summer 2005. To learn more
about the work undertaken during the first phase of the preparation for the strategy (consultations, working groups, views of stakeholders), please visit
this page. The Communication sets out the problems and challenges facing Europe’s urban areas, focusing on 4 priority themes. These themes, selected in conjunction
with stakeholders, are urban environmental management, urban transport, sustainable construction and urban design. The themes are cross-cutting in nature
and have strong links with many environmental issues. They offer the greatest scope to make progress in improving the quality of the urban environment and have
a strong influence on existing environmental obligations such as on air quality. For each theme, the Communication sets out the nature of the challenges, what
action has been taken so far at the European level and ideas for what further action should be undertaken to address better the challenges identified. The Communication starts with the premise that the knowledge and techniques needed to bring about significant improvements in environmental performance
in urban areas are already known. Whilst there are some gaps in knowledge, the focus of the Strategy should be on achieving clear changes in urban areas rather
than calling for further consideration of the issues. The Communication recognises that towns and cities themselves are best placed to develop the solutions
to the problems they face and proposes that the Community’s role should be to establish a framework to support them in this task. For instance, existing environmental
obligations establish targets that must be met and the coordinated and integrated approach proposed in the Communication will help Member States and local
authorities meet these. For other issues, the Communication proposes that targets should be established at the local level through the adoption of environmental
management plans and sustainable urban transport plans for urban areas. The Communication proposes that the objective of the Thematic Strategy should be to improve the environmental performance and quality of urban areas and
to secure a healthy living environment for Europe’s urban citizens. The Strategy will reinforce the environment contribution to the sustainable development
of urban areas. Consultation The objective of the Communication is to launch a process of consultation of the Community institutions and of urban environment stakeholders on the ideas
presented. Stakeholders are invited to provide comments on the Communication, in particular on the ideas proposed for further action. Stakeholders are also
given the opportunity to communicate in writing their positions and concerns on environmental, economic, and social aspects related to this Communication
and which would be relevant to the development of an extended impact assessment. Comments can be submitted to the following address, preferably by email in a widely used format (plain text, MS Word, Adobe Acrobat PDF, HTML, etc.) until
15 April 2004. e-mail: Fax at: +32 2 299 43 62. Please mention Thematic Strategy in the subject. Post: Environment Directorate-General, Ms. Chantal Bruetschy, Head of unit B4, Office BU-9 4-23, Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment, European
Commission, B-1049 Brussels, Belgium. By submitting comments, you automatically give permission to the Commission to publish them on this site. The entire comments will be published in the form
they have been received and referenced in a table together with the name of the sender. Should you not wish your comments to be displayed in this way, please make
this clear.
Posted: 27/02/2004 By: Paul Bardos