A report written by the Institute for European Environmental Policy paints a critical picture of the implementation of the EU’s 6th environment action programme. Most of the objectives of the 10-year strategy will not be fulfilled before 2012, says the report.
The report shows a mixed picture as regards the four main priorities of the 6th EAP:
- climate change: good progress has been made (Kyoto agreement) but “achievement of internal policy objectives with respect to the main source sectors of emissions has been uneven”. The biggest concern is the transport sector;
- nature and biodiversity: “progress to date insufficient”; good progress as regards protection of habitats and species, but protection of marine environment disappointing;
- environment and health: REACH (chemicals) has progressed but “falls short of ambitious objectives laid down in the 6th EAP”; water quality has seen progress except for priority hazardous substances; air quality and urban environmental quality: insufficient;
- natural resources and waste: the two thematic strategies have “watered down” the 6th EAP objectives.
Overall, the report concludes that the “state of implementation of the Programme at mid-term does not indicate that most of these objectives are likely to be effectively fulfilled before 2012”. Under the influence of the EU’s Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs, the “evolution of the policy debate … tends to undermine objectives and principles that were agreed upon only four years ago”.
The authors of the study see “ample evidence of the political downgrading of law from its traditional position as the prime form of Community action for the protection of the environment”. “EU environmental policy seems to be retreating increasingly into the realm of soft instruments inspired by the open method of coordination, ” says the report.