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Global environmental challenges and the EU

Abstract

The contribution discusses four of the five main global challenges to the environment, namely climate change, the loss of biodiversity, the omnipresence of chemicals, and the management of resources. For reasons of space, it will not discuss the fifth and most important environmental challenge, which is the eradication of poverty. For each of the remaining challenges, the contribution describes the EU approach, points out the successes and deficiencies of that approach and the institutional difficulty of the EU taking new initiatives at international level in order to better protect the environment.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    World Economic Forum: Global risks 2014: understanding systemic risks in a changing global environment. Geneva 2014.

  2. 2.

    Article 21(2)(d) TEU. The eradication of poverty is also mentioned in Article 3(5) TEU.

  3. 3.

    OJ 2016, L 48/1 Section 21.

  4. 4.

    Decision 2002/358, OJ 2002, L 130/1.

  5. 5.

    Decision 2002/358 (fn. 4, above).

  6. 6.

    Decision 406/2009, OJ 2009, L 140/136.

  7. 7.

    Decision 2015/146, OJ 2015, L 26/1.

  8. 8.

    Commission COM (2014) 689.

  9. 9.

    European Council, meeting of 23–24 October 2014, document EUCO 169/14. See also European Commission: A framework strategy for a resilient energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy, COM (2015) 80. The European Council, consisting of the Heads of States and Governments of the 28 EU Member States, is the highest political institution of the EU. Its decisions are of political, not of legal nature.

  10. 10.

    See Articles 192(2)(c) and 194(2) TFEU. Until 2016, all EU climate-change related legislation was adopted by majority decisions.

  11. 11.

    Directive 2001/77, OJ 2001, L 283/33. Under EU law, directives address the Member States and are binding as to the result to be reached, see Article 288 TFEU.

  12. 12.

    Directive 2003/30, OJ 2003, L 123/42.

  13. 13.

    Directive 2009/28, OJ 2009, L 140/16.

  14. 14.

    Commission, COM (2015) 293.

  15. 15.

    Commission, COM (2015) 293. Difficulties to reach the target for 2020 existed, according to the Commission, in France, Malta, Luxemburg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, Hungary and Poland.

  16. 16.

    The only reference to this problem was made in a progress report of 2013 (COM(2013)75, p. 12) where it was stated: ‘Whilst most non-EU countries have ratified the fundamental conventions, enforcement is lower than in the EU or in the US which has not ratified many such conventions’.

  17. 17.

    Directive 93/76, OJ 1003, L 237/28.

  18. 18.

    Directive 2006/32, OJ 2006, L 114/64.

  19. 19.

    Directive 2005/32, OJ 2005, L 191/29; this Directive was replaced by Directive 2009/125, OJ 2009, L 285/10.

  20. 20.

    Directive 2010/31 on the energy performance of buildings, OJ 2010, L 153/13; this Directive replaced Directive 2002/91, OJ 2003, L 1/65.

  21. 21.

    Directive 2012/27, OJ 2012, L 315/1.

  22. 22.

    Commission, COM (2015) 574.

  23. 23.

    Directive 2003/87, OJ 2003, L 275/32.

  24. 24.

    Decision 525/2013, OJ 2013, L 165 p. 13; this Decision replaced Decision 280/2004, OJ 2004, L 49/1.

  25. 25.

    Regulation 443/2009, OJ 2009, L 140 p. 1 (passenger cars); Regulation 510/2011, OJ 2011, L 145/1 (light duty vehicles). No limit value was fixed for trucks.

  26. 26.

    Directive 1999/31, OJ 1999, L 182/1.

  27. 27.

    Directive 2009/31, OJ 2009, L 140/114.

  28. 28.

    Directive 1999/94, OJ 2000, L 12/16.

  29. 29.

    Regulation 517/2014, OJ 2014, L 150/195; this Regulation replaced Regulation 842/2006, OJ 2006, L 161/1.

  30. 30.

    Commission, COM (2014) 689. The UN ‘Greenhouse gas inventory data for the period 1990–2013’ (unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/sbi/eng/21.pdf) does not contain data for the EU, but only for its Member States separately.

  31. 31.

    Netherlands Environment Agency, Trends in global CO2 emissions, 2013 Report, The Hague 2013.

  32. 32.

    See UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Article 4(3)(c); Paris Agreement, Art. 9.

  33. 33.

    See Decision 1/2013 OJ 2013, L 173/67.

  34. 34.

    EU Budget for 2016, OJ 2016, L 48/1, Section 340251.

  35. 35.

    EU budget (fn. 34, above) Sections 21020701 and 21020702. The actual payments in previous years were much lower which seems to indicate that developing countries are not too eager to request the financing of climate change and sustainable energy measures.

  36. 36.

    Directive 2004/101, OJ 2004, L 338/18.

  37. 37.

    Commission, Communication ‘The road from Paris’, COM (2016) 110, p. 8.

  38. 38.

    Regulation 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014–2020, OJ 2013, L 347/884.

  39. 39.

    Commission (fn. 37, above), p. 8.

  40. 40.

    State aid to fossil fuels by the EU and Member States is estimated at 81 billion euro per year, Commission (Ecofys) Subsidies and costs of EU energy, 2014.

  41. 41.

    Commission (fn. 37, above), p. 7.

  42. 42.

    See, however, Decision 2010/787 on state aid to facilitate the closure of uncompetitive coal mines, OJ 2010, L 336/24. This Decision provides that state aid to coal mines shall stop on 31 December 2018. Whether this Decision will be fully applied, is doubtful. Germany has signalled already that, having decided to stop nuclear energy production, it could not, at the same time, stop coal mining. And the Government in Poland which came to power in 2015, intends to heavily support national coal production.

  43. 43.

    Commission (fn. 13, above) p. 9.

  44. 44.

    Commission (fn. 14, above), p. 2.

  45. 45.

    Rechtbank Den Haag, Case C/09/456689/HA ZA-13-1396, Urgenda, Judgment of 24 June 2015, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2015:7196.

  46. 46.

    See Decision 406/2009 (fn. 6, above), Recital 3: ‘the European Council of March 2007 endorsed a Community objective of a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 …provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and economically more advanced developing countries commit themselves to contributing adequately according to their responsibilities and capabilities’.

  47. 47.

    Convention on Biological Diversity, Recital 6.

  48. 48.

    UNEP, Global Environmental Outlook 3 (2010); Global Environmental Outlook 4 (2015).

  49. 49.

    Regulation 1143/2014, OJ 2014, L 317/35.

  50. 50.

    Directive 2009/147 on the conservation of wild birds, OJ 2010, L 20 p. 7; this Directive replaced Directive 79/409, OJ 1979, L 103/1 on the same subject.

  51. 51.

    Directive 92/43 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, OJ 1992 L 206/7.

  52. 52.

    Convention on Biological Diversity, First report of the European Union to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 1998; 2nd EU Report 2002; 3rd EU Report 2005; 4th EU Report 2009; 5th EU Report 2014.

  53. 53.

    Commission, COM (1998) 42.

  54. 54.

    Commission, COM (2001) 162.

  55. 55.

    See on these attempts the first EU Report (fn. 52, above), p. 22.

  56. 56.

    Decision 2002/1600, OJ 2002, L 242/1, Article 6(1).

  57. 57.

    Commission, COM (2006) 216.

  58. 58.

    Ecosystem services are the benefits which humans obtain, for free, from functioning ecosystems, such as forests, water systems, grassland, mountains etc.

  59. 59.

    Commission, COM (2011) 244; Council Document 7536/10 of 16 March 2010; see also Commission, COM (2010)4 and COM (2010) 548.

  60. 60.

    Commission, COM (2015) 478; see also European Environment Agency: State of nature in Europe. Copenhagen 2015, p. 141 ff.

  61. 61.

    European Environment Agency (EEA), EU 2010 biodiversity baseline (adapted to the MAES typology). Copenhagen 2010.

  62. 62.

    EEA (fn. 61, above), pp. 88, 14, 19 and 21. The data do not include data from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

  63. 63.

    Commission, COM (2015) 478, p. 6; 4th EU Report to the Biodiversity Convention (2009), p. 3; 5th EU Report to the Biodiversity Convention (2014) p. 10 and p. 11.

  64. 64.

    Commission, 5th EU Report (fn. 63, 62, above), p. 38.

  65. 65.

    Commission, 4th EU Report (fn. 52, above), p. 80.

  66. 66.

    Regulation 2173/2005, OJ 2005, L 347/1.

  67. 67.

    By March 2015, such agreements were concluded with Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Liberia, Central African Republic and Indonesia. Negotiations with about ten other countries are ongoing.

  68. 68.

    Regulation 995/2010, OJ 2010, L 295/23.

  69. 69.

    Regulation 338/97, OJ 1997, L 61/1; this Regulation replaced Regulation 3626/82 of 1982, OJ 192, L 384/1.

  70. 70.

    Regulation 348/81, OJ 1981, L 39/1.

  71. 71.

    Regulation 1007/2009, OJ 2009, L 286/36.

  72. 72.

    Commission, 4th Report (fn. 52, above), p. 58; 5th EU Report (fn. 52, above), p. 37.

  73. 73.

    Commission, 4th EU Report (fn. 52, above), p. 76.

  74. 74.

    Commission, COM (2013) 718 p. 5.

  75. 75.

    Directive 2001/95, OJ 2002, L 11/4; see, however, Court of Justice, Case C-288/08 Kemikalieinspektionen, ECR 2009 I-11031.

  76. 76.

    See Commission proposal for a strategy COM (87) 165; Council Resolution, OJ 1988, C 30/1. A good example is cadmium in fertilisers, by far the most important source of cadmium impacts to soil and to the food chain: as the EU could not agree to limit the cadmium content in fertilisers, it allows Sweden, Austria and Finland such a limitation—since 1995, more than 20 years; see for example Commission Decision 2006/347, OJ 2006, L 29 p. 19.

  77. 77.

    See Regulation 1907/2006 on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) OJ 2006, L 396 p. 1, Annex XVII, no. 23 (cadmium), 18 and 18a (mercury), 63, 16 and 17 (lead) and 47 (chromium VI).

  78. 78.

    Directive 2008/50, OJ 2008, L 152/1.

  79. 79.

    Directives 2008/105, OJ 2008, L 348/84 and 2013/39, OJ 2013 L 226/1.

  80. 80.

    Regulation 850/2004, OJ 2004, L 158 p. 7; this Regulation replaced a directive on the prohibition of pesticides of 1979.

  81. 81.

    Regulation 1107/2009, OJ 2009, L 309/1 (pesticides); Regulation 538/2012, OJ 2012, L 167/1 (biocides).

  82. 82.

    Directive 2009/128, OJ 2009, L 309/71.

  83. 83.

    European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): The 2013 EU report on pesticide residues in food. EFSA Journal 2015; 13(3):4038.

  84. 84.

    Directive 84/360, OJ 194, L 188/20 (air emissions); Directive 76/464, OJ 1976, L 129/23 (water discharges).

  85. 85.

    A good example is that of air pollution in the UK: EU Directive 2008/50 (fn. 77, above) requires Member States to comply with its quality objectives by 2010, at the latest by 2015. Where a breach is found, the remediation shall take place ‘as soon as possible’. The UK Government keeps on arguing that it cannot comply with the EU values before 2025.

  86. 86.

    Directive 2010/75, OJ 2010, L 334/17.

  87. 87.

    Directive 2015/2193, OJ 2015, L 313/1.

  88. 88.

    Regulation 1005/2009, OJ 2009, L 286/1.

  89. 89.

    Regulation 443/2009, OJ 2009, L 140/1.

  90. 90.

    Regulation 715/2007, OJ 2007, L 171/1.

  91. 91.

    Directive 2004/26, OJ 2004, L 146/1.

  92. 92.

    See on the one hand Directive 2000/60, OJ 2000, L 327/1, Art. 16, on the other hand Directive 2008/105 (fn. 78, above).

  93. 93.

    Directive 91/271, OJ 1991, L 135/40.

  94. 94.

    Directive 91/676, OJ 1991, L 376/1.

  95. 95.

    Regulation 1907/2006 (fn. 77, 76, above).

  96. 96.

    See last Commission Regulation 474/2014, OJ 2014, L 136/19. Overall, annex XVII of Regulation 1907/2006 which lists the restrictions and prohibitions, contains 65 substances. It should, however, be pointed out that restrictions which are inserted in other pieces of EU legislation—for example heavy metals in batteries (Directive 2006/66 OJ 2006, L 266/1)—are not listed once more in annex XVII.

  97. 97.

    Regulation 649/2012, OJ 2012, L 201/60. Annex I Part 1 of the Regulation lists some 170 substances which are subject to the PIC-procedure, because they are banned or severely restricted in use within the EU.

  98. 98.

    Regulation 1102/2008, OJ 2008, L 204/75.

  99. 99.

    Regulation 1005/2009, OJ 2005, L 286/1.

  100. 100.

    Commission, COM (2001) 68, p. 2.

  101. 101.

    Commission, COM (2001) 68; COM (2003) 302; COM (2010) 614.

  102. 102.

    Commission, COM (2008) 397.

  103. 103.

    Directive 2005/32, OJ 2005, L 191 p. 29; in 2009, this Directive was replaced by Directive 2009/125, OJ 2009, L 285/10. The Directives did not apply to cars, airplanes and other means of transport.

  104. 104.

    Directive 2010/30, OJ 2010, L 153/1; this Directive replaced an earlier Directive of 1992.

  105. 105.

    Directive 2008/98, OJ 2008, L 312/3.

  106. 106.

    Commission, Closing the loop—a European Union action plan for the circular economy, COM (2015) 614. The term ‘circular economy’ was taken from German law, where legislation on circular economy existed since 1994 (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz).

  107. 107.

    Commission, COM (2015) 614, p. 2.

  108. 108.

    Commission, COM (2015) 398; COM (2015) 596 (packaging and packaging waste); COM (2015) 595 (paper, metal, wood, glass and plastics) and COM (2015) 594 (landfills).

  109. 109.

    European Parliament, Resolution of 9 July 2015, document P8-TA-Prov (20150266; Council, Resolution of 18 April 2016, document ST 8004 2016 INIT).

  110. 110.

    Directive 2000/53, OJ 2000, L 269/34.

  111. 111.

    Commission, COM (2015) 595.

  112. 112.

    Directive 2000/53 (fn. 110, above).

  113. 113.

    Directive 2012/19, OJ 2012, L 192/38, Art. 10 and Annex VI.

  114. 114.

    Regulation 1257/2013, OJ 2013, L 330/1.

  115. 115.

    EU Court of Justice, Case C-246/07, Commission v. Sweden, ECR 2010, I-3317.

  116. 116.

    See L. Krämer, EU negotiating and voting under the amended CITES Convention, Journal for European Environment & Planning Law 2015, p. 3.

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Krämer, L. Global environmental challenges and the EU. ERA Forum 21, 341–360 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12027-018-0544-1

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Biodiversity
  • Resource management
  • Chemicals
  • EU legislation