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Steps towards greening in the EU

AUTHORS: Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio – Sirini Withana – Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers – Albrecht Gradman

The transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient Europe is a key objective of the EU as set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy, related Roadmaps and other strategic documents. Some EU Member States have already started to take steps towards this transition with the adoption of supporting political decisions and implementation of related instruments. These efforts are welcome and should be further encouraged. However, there are also contradictory decisions being taken or delays that hinder or slow down progress. Overall, despite some positive steps in a number of policy areas, further efforts are needed to create stronger momentum towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Europe. Consideration of resource efficiency related issues (including resource productivity, municipal waste management, environmental taxation, reform of environmentally harmful subsidies, water and air quality) within the European Semester process should also be strengthened.

This is the main message of the EU summary report of a study undertaken by IEEP, Ecologic Institute, Bio IS and IVM for the European Commission on ‘Steps towards greening in the EU: Monitoring Member States’ achievements in selected environmental policy areas’. The study examines progress in the 27 EU Member States in 2011-2012 across four policy areas: economic, fiscal and financial issues, waste management, support to SMEs and air quality. It highlights the main instruments used in these areas, potential drivers and barriers for improvement, and where further progress can be made. The study aims to feed into preparations by DG Environment of the Annual Environment Policy Review which monitors environmental trends and policy developments at national and EU level.

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