The New EU Environmental Policy

On November 29, the European Commission has published the long awaited proposal for a successor to the 6thEnvironmental Action Programme (EAP) that expired in July 2012.

Environment Action Programmes have guided the development of EU environmental policy since the early 1970s. The 7th EAP needs now to be approved by the Council and European Parliament and will then provide the overarching framework for environmental policy to 2020.

Slow Food welcomes the Commission’s effort to set the environmental policies of the EU respecting the planet’s ecological limits, as emphasized by the proposal’s title itself ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. Slow Food also appreciates the focus on energy use and its environmental impacts, and the priority given to the protection of the EU’s natural capital by halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems.
Also to be appreciated is the acknowledgement of the need to significantly reduce food waste, in line with the Rio+20 outcome, and we hope that this determination will materialize in calling 2014 the “European year against food waste”, as the European Parliament wished. Another substantial point is the will to enhance the implementation of EU environmental rules by member states (a recognized weakness of the previous EAPs).
At large it’s surely a positive element the aknowledgement of how individual changes can contribute to environmental outcomes and how by changing patterns of consumption and production we can decrease pressure on natural resources.

Still, Slow Food regrets that once again a general framework approach on food is missing, and is worried by the lack of specific targets which undermines the chance to actually monitor progress.
Besides that, the delay in presenting the proposal by the European Commission made it impossible for it to be taken into consideration in the ongoing debate on European budget 2014-2020.

At a time when Europe’s political leaders are focussing on the latest economic crisis and the rapidly accelerating breakdown of ecosystems is pushed well down the agenda, a strong 7th EAP is needed to provide a way forward out of the economic crisis which is environmentally sustainable. Slow Food urges the European Commission to set goals so that the 7th EAP won’t be a missed opportunity, but a real guide for the EU’s actions aimed at protecting, preserving and enhancing the natural capital for the next 7 years and further.

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