A clean, healthy and diverse environment is the prerequisite for prosperity and well-being for everyone in Europe. This can only be achieved through a common framework. Environmental pollution does not stop at national borders. It is also important to prevent short-term economic advantages arising from the fact that a few countries have lower environmental standards. This is why approximately 80 per cent of the environmental policies applicable in Germany are made in Brussels.
The 7th Environment Action Plan, "Living well, within the limits of our planet", served as basis for the development of environmental policies in the EU in previous years and laid down the targets and priorities for the 2014 to 2020 period. The programme contains three priority areas: protecting nature and strengthening ecological resilience, boosting resource-efficient, low-carbon growth, and reducing threats to human health and well-being linked to pollution, chemical substances, and the impacts of climate change.
In December 2019, the newly elected European Commission presented the European Green Deal, a roadmap for a carbon-neutral, future-proof Europe and new EU growth strategy.
Every five years, the European Environment Agency presents a detailed report on the state of the environment in Europe in which guidance for good policy is laid down on the basis of current trends.
The European Commission, as "guardian of the European Treaties", must ensure that the EU member states correctly apply and implement EU legislation throughout the EU. An effective instrument for doing so is the infringement procedure, which the European Commission can initiate if it believes that a member state has failed to fulfil its European law obligations. If all else fails, the European Court of Justice may impose financial penalties on the member state in question.
The European Commission regularly draws up reports on the implementation of environmental policy. It published its most recent communication reviewing the implementation of EU environmental policy and country-specific reports on 5 April 2019. The communication outlines disparities between obligations under European law or under political agreements and the local reality. It also identifies the main implementation problems in member states, in the Commission’s opinion, and possible solutions. The country report generally confirms Germany’s strong environmental policy and legislation, and highlights, among other things, its high recycling rates. However, the report also addresses key challenges such as improving air quality, reducing water pollution and completing the process of designating areas for the Natura 2000 network.
The key stakeholders in Brussels are the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, in which all 27 member states are represented.
Member states of the European Union: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Austria, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Malta and Croatia.
The United Kingdom left the EU at the end of 2019.
However, the EU environmental policy is not only shaped from the top down. You can also get involved.