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The Manual: Chapter 13 – Sectoral policies

This publication forms a section of the Manual of European Environmental Policy, published by IEEP in 2012. This chapter sets out the development of some of the most important links between EU environmental policy and other policy areas, such as sustainable development, environmental policy integration and more recently, processes of European social and economic reform. This is done by examining the way environmental issues have been linked to specific policy areas:

  • Agriculture: Agriculture and land management play an important role in maintaining and improving the environmental condition of the farmed landscape, including farmland biodiversity, landscape character, water quality, levels of greenhouse gas emissions, capacity for carbon storage, etc. The Common Agricultural Policy plays a role in promoting both basic and more enhanced forms of environmental management.
  • Land degradation and protection: Soil or land degradation and protection and spatial planning, are the two fields central to EU law making to ensure land utility and function, Land is a vital resource enabling the production of food, the preservation of biodiversity, facilitating the natural management of water systems and acting as a carbon store. 
  • Forestry: Common policies directly or indirectly affect forestry and forests, such as the Common Agriculture Policy, the Cohesion Policy as well as environmental legislation on nature protection, air quality and climate change. The EU contributes to supporting forest policy particularly regarding the implementation of sustainable forest management and the support of national forest programmes.
  • Fisheries: Fishing remains one of the most significant factors influencing the state of the European marine environment. The Common Fisheries Policy aims to ensure a sustainable and responsible management of fisheries which is crucial as there are concerns in many parts of Europe for the state of fish stocks, levels of by-catch and marine habitat destruction. 
  • Maritime Policy: The EU Integrated Maritime Policy aims to provide a joined-up policy framework for the development of EU policies affecting maritime areas. It covers all policy areas and stresses the Marine Strategy Framework Directive as its ‘environmental pillar’. Subsequent policy documents directly on the substantive issues of the policy as well as on sectoral policies and regional policies have followed.
  • Energy: The production and use of energy is a major source of environmental problems, with combustion of fossil fuels contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, acidification and waste. A number of general initiatives have been developed to reduce the impacts of energy use, such as an overall framework for energy policy. Energy is connected to other sectors of policy such as climate change as policy initiatives have been launched by the EU Commission, specifically linked to the Kyoto Protocol under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • Transport: The construction, maintenance and presence of infrastructure, the manufacture and disposal of vehicles and emissions from the transport sector are just some of the contributions to poor air quality, ozone depletion, acidification and global climate change. These environmental issues have become increasing embedded in Transport Policy with a focus on reducing emissions, which overlaps with two other policy areas: air quality and climate change.
  • Trade: Removing barriers to trade, completing the internal market and fostering conditions to encourage economic growth are amongst the key objectives of the EU. Some internal market measures are directly relevant to environmental policy, while economic growth and trade also have indirect environmental effects, for example through increased freight movements, emissions, and the use of natural resources. 
  • International development: EU Member States and the European Commission are both major donors of development aid. While developing countries are responsible for identifying and responding to environmental issues affecting them, EU development policy can support such efforts, and the provision of appropriate development aid and improving the level of coherence between different EU external policies can provide a valuable contribution in this area.

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