As a follow-up to the Seventh Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) which shall expire on 31 December 2020, the Commission is presenting a proposal for an 8th EAP, with a long-term vision and priority environmental objectives for 2030 to support the EU commitment to achieve a green recovery.

The new 8th EAP lays out a series of priority objectives in the areas of climate neutrality, adaptation to climate change, protection, and restoration of biodiversity, aiming at zero pollution and reducing the pressures of production and consumption on the environment.

The new action plan is designed to be a legally binding instruments to ensure and safeguard Member States’ implementation of the EU Green Deal and climate-neutrality objectives in 2050. The action plan has now also proposed to make the Green Deal’s pledge to do ‘No Harm’ a legally binding law and sets out a new monitoring framework to ensure the objectives will be reached.

The Commission’s proposal of the 8th EAP will now have to be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. In preparation of the future discussion on legally binding laws and new monitoring tools, here are the most important take-aways of the new 8th EAP and what these will mean for the implementation of the EU Green Deal and CEEP future activities:

New monitoring Framework

A new aspect of the plan is the integration of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and a new monitoring framework, which was announced earlier in the EU Green Deal. The aim of this new monitoring system is to measure the progress made by the EU and its Member States in implementing the programme’s priority objectives and inform policy makers and stakeholders if the Union and the Member States are on track to achieving a systemic transformation. It should also provide an opportunity to explore the potential of the ongoing working streams on the planetary boundaries for example in freshwater use, land use/change, ocean acidification as well as a tracking on the EU’s consumption footprint such as deforestation in Europe and in third countries.

For this, the Commission has proposed to use a nine-point Planetary Boundaries scheme, set up by the European Environmental Agency in May 2020, that will support the EU’s progress and measure the reducing environmental impacts.

Key Indicators

The action plan’s monitoring framework should comprise a limited number of key indicators for high-level communication. The aim of this is to have a consistent timeline on the state of play of the environment, the impacts of climate change and the effectiveness of Member States actions.

The next step proposed by the Commission is to launch a consultation on the headline indicators to improve the monitoring of biodiversity, circular economy, and the zero pollution and is planned for the end of 2021.

Budgetary Implications

The action plan proposal was developed in line with the EC’s proposal of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. The Commission has urged the need for more resources and data in the European Environment Agency (EEA) and in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) that will support the new monitoring framework in the action plan that measures and reports on the environmental progress in the EU. The cost of this project is estimated at 23.379 m Euros for the EEA and 2.369 m Euros for the ECHA. These costs are planned to be taken out of the LIFE budget according to a split of 2/3 of the costs for DG Environment and 1/3 of the costs of DG Climate Action for the EEA, the needed resources for the ECHA is planned to be fully covered by DG Environment.

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