Advocate the development of an 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP);
Advocate an higher EU ambition in all relevant policy domains, especially on climate, biodiversity and environment, to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
Assess the 7th EAP;
Elaborate the main principles for developing an 8th EAP:
Assess the changed context of European environment policy and its regional and local impact;
Present proposals for the EAP to ensure policy integration;
Present proposals on funding environment and climate policies;
Recommend a place-based or area-oriented approach for the EAP;
Present proposals for a well-functioning multi-level governance framework for the 8th EAP;
Introduce a proposal for a new EAP:
Outline a new approach for the EAP;
Propose themes for the EAP;
Propose a structure for the EAP.
The European Commission has not yet presented a proposal for the 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP).
The official follow-up letter to this opinion sent by the European Commission recognised the importance of implementation as indicated by the CoR opinion and recognized the Technical Platform for Cooperation on the Environment as a good forum for dialogue. The CoR opinion proposed an enhanced role for the platform.
Coherently with the position of the CoR, the European Commission remarked the need to improve the integration of environmental and climate matters into other policy areas.
The European Commission agreed on the need for a significant quota of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) to be dedicated to climate policy mainstreaming however it supported a 25% quota instead of the 30% proposed by the CoR. This aspect will be re-assessed at the end of the MFF negotiations.
The CoR opinion proposed five chapters for the EAP (implementation, the transitions, innovation, wider global challenges and communication). The European Commission recognized that these items are in line with the preliminary findings of the evaluation on the 7th EAP.
The topic has been raised during the hearing of the new Commissioner for Environment. Replying to a written question on the 8th EAP and zero pollution, the Commissioner stated: "(…)This is important to ensure coherence in the implementation of the EU’s environment policy, which is highly decentralised between the Union, Member States and regional and local governments, in line with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.(…)"
Moreover, in the opening statement of the hearing he has mentioned the 8th EAP in connection with the zero pollution action area.
These references are relevant since the CoR opinion raised the importance of the local and regional dimension of the EAP and raised the issue of pollution in multiple points.
The Council adopted conclusions on the EU's environment and climate change policies for the period 2021 - 2030. It called upon the European Commission to present at the latest by early 2020 an ambitious and focused proposal for an 8th EAP. The Council conclusions mentioned the CoR opinion. The regional dimension is mentioned in Point 7: "(…)taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union(…)". The conclusions include elements that were present in the CoR opinion as well such as a reference to the lack of policy integration in the 7th EAP (point 4) and the impact of pollution on health (multiple points in particular 13).
The Communication on the European Green Deal in a paragraph on enforcement remarks that the environmental implementation review (EIR) will play a critical role in mapping the situation in each Member State and includes the proposal of a new EAP (in 2020) to complement the European Green Deal that will include a new monitoring mechanism. The CoR opinion also proposed a monitoring mechanism also in connection with the EIR process.
The preparation of a new EAP seems certain and this in general was one of the basic proposals of the CoR opinion. Further analyses will be possible once the actual proposal is presented.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- Points out that the EU must show a higher ambition in all relevant policy domains, especially on climate, biodiversity and environment, to achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Calls on the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament to develop an 8th EAP;
- Points out that although the 7th EAP has identified better implementation as a key priority, insufficient implementation remains a significant problem. Supports effective implementation of the acquis. Argues that local and regional authorities (LRAs) are not given the necessary instruments in practice. In most cases the European and national levels have the appropriate resources and should therefore bear the responsibility for paying fines for non-compliance;
- Strongly believes that the 8th EAP should ensure policy integration;
- Supports more synergies between funding sources and stronger links between public and private financing. Welcomes the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposal with its focus on sustainable development and integrating environment policy into all budget headings, however calls for over 30% of the budget reserved for climate policy mainstreaming;
- Advocates a holistic place-based or area-oriented approach;
- Calls for a multi-level governance framework. Believes in incentives for over-performing;
- Proposes that the 8th EAP present an EU strategy to promote healthy living for all;
- Proposes a lean clean 8th EAP, with five main chapters: implementation, the transitions, innovation, wider global challenges and communication;
- Calls on the 8th EAP to further enhance the Technical Platform for Cooperation on the Environment established by the ENVE Commission and DG Environment; proposes to establish a network of ambassadors within the Platform to promote the implementation of the environment legislation at all levels of governance, complementing in this way the EIR and TAIEX;
- Proposes to focus more on the implementation aspects/challenges in the EU environment policies via CoR opinions as well as the work of the future regional hubs in order to address the gaps and find tailor-made solutions.