The European Commission began the practice of periodically issuing Community Environmental Action Programmes in the early 1970s. These programmes set out forthcoming legislative proposals and discussed broader perspectives on EU environmental policy.

The EU Treaties provide the legal basis for the adoption of such action programmes by the European Parliament and the Council. The action programmes are not intended to have immediate effects, but rather to set out future goals. Measures to implement the objectives of action programmes are adopted separately.

The first five action programmes were political statements of intent of Community action on the environment. The Sixth Community Environment Action Programme (6EAP) was adopted in July 2002 and was the first such programme to be jointly adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.

The 6EAP provides a 10-year framework for EU action on the environment, setting out key environmental objectives to be achieved in four priority areas: climate change, nature and biodiversity, environment and health, and natural resources and waste. More detailed measures to meet the environmental objectives of the 6EAP were to be set in seven ‘Thematic Strategies’: on soil protection, marine environment, pesticides, air pollution, urban environment, natural resources, and waste.

An assessment of the 6EAP by the Commission is expected in 2011 and a number of independent evaluations are also taking place.

IEEP has been closely involved in work relating to the 5EAP and the 6EAP. We have undertaken assessments of the achievements and effectiveness of the Programmes and engaged in debates on the value of EAPs and their relationship with other strategic policy documents of the EU.

Key work in this area:

IEEP together with the Ecologic Institute and the Central European University are carrying out an independent, in-depth assessment of the 6EAP in preparation for the Commission's own final assessment of the 6EAP.

A series of strategic analyses evaluating the Sixth Environment Action Programme and contributing to the debate on the potential 7EAP for the Brussels Capital Region, in the context of preparations for the Belgian Presidency of the EU (2009):

Regarding work in this area please contact:

Marc Pallemaerts
Sirini Withana