The EU environment programme until 2030 has been agreed with member states to accelerate the EU’s transition to a climate-neutral, clean, circular and wellbeing economy.

Late Wednesday night, Parliaments lead negotiators agreed on an informal deal on the eighth General Union Environment Action Programme (EAP) with the Council. The purpose of the eighth EAP is to guide the EU’s environmental policy to 2030 and align it with the European Green Deal.

Priority objectives of the eighth EAP

The six thematic priority objectives that should be achieved by 2030 are:                         Climate change mitigation to attain the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target; Adaptation to climate change; Advancing towards a wellbeing economy that gives back to the planet more than it takes; Pursuing zero-pollution, including in relation to harmful chemicals; Protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity; Significantly reducing key environmental pressures related to the EU’s material and consumption footprints including through EU 2030 reduction targets                                                                              The Commission shall monitor, assess and report on the progress of the EU and member states annually with regard to achieving the priority objectives. In particular, a summary dashboard and indicators measuring ‘beyond GDP’ will be developed to guide policymaking. The assessment shall be made publicly available and an annual exchange of views by the EU institutions shall be held. It shall focus on both the assessment of actions taken as well as planned future actions. A mid-term review of the progress achieved must also be carried out by 31 March 2024 and, if needed to reach the priority objectives by 2030, a legislative proposal with a list of additional actions should be put forward by the Commission for the period after 2025..

Phasing out fossil fuel and other environmentally harmful subsidies

Strengthening environmentally positive incentives as well as phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, in particular fossil fuel subsidies, will be assured by developing a binding legislative framework to monitor and report on member states’ progress towards phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. In this context, a deadline to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which is consistent with the with the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, will be set.                                                                                                                  By 2023, the Commission shall present a methodology to identify other environmentally harmful subsidies with a view to report on member states’ progress towards phasing them out.

The rapporteur Grace O’Sullivan (Greens, IRL) said: “The eighth EAP makes a “Wellbeing Economy” a priority objective for 2030. This is a first in EU law and marks an important step in moving away from the obsessive, unsustainable focus on GDP growth towards what this pandemic has shown us is the most important thing of all: the wellbeing of our people and planet. This is a positive example of the sort of systemic change required to reach our objective of living well, within the limits of our planet.”

Parliament and Council still have to formally endorse the agreement.

The EU Environment Action Programmes are legally binding frameworks that have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early 1970s. The Seventh EAP expired at the end of 2020. The new and eight EAP shall be in place until 31 December 2030.