The lawyers win – Europe’s New Environmental Policy

Much a do about Nothing?

Today, the European Commission launched their “new” work plan for the environment.  The only thing is that there is nothing much new in and it looks like the heart,or at least fight, has gone out of Europe’s environmental agenda.

I am old enough to remember that Community “Environmental Actions Programmes” meant something. They were challenging work plans jam packed with legislative proposals to make the environment a better place.

Implementation  – Don’t Bring that up

Sure, everybody knew hardly  any of the laws were actually implemented in practice. We have known about about since the mid 1990s. No-one took a blind bit of notice, and DG Environment continued proposing new and ambitious measures and  the European Parliament and Ministers gratefully adopted them.

A New World Order?

These brave days have melted away. Reading today’s proposal hardly anything is new. There are brave and decent statements against subsidies, which I am sure the Agri lobby will kill off.


The lawyers will seemingly be awash with infringement work. But, that is only if the Commission does not stonewall complaints and dither in infringement actions. Time will only tell.

I will be interested to see how NGOs and Environment Ministers react to this proposal. They are the ones who forced the Commission to even table a new action plan.d


If you don’t want to read the 37 pages, here is a summary.


Priority objective 1: To protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital


a) The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services are halted

and ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced.

(b) The impacts of pressures on fresh, transitional and coastal waters are

significantly reduced to achieve, maintain or enhance good status as defined by

the Water Framework Directive.

(c) The impacts of pressures on marine waters are reduced to achieve or maintain

good environmental status as required by the Marine Strategy Framework


(d) The impacts of air pollution on ecosystems and biodiversity are further


(e) Land is managed sustainably in the EU, soil is adequately protected and the

remediation of contaminated sites is well underway.

(f) The nutrient cycle (nitrogen and phosphorus) is managed in a more sustainable

and resource-efficient way.

(g) Forests and the services they provide are protected and their resilience to

climate change and fires is improved.


(a) Fully implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

(b) Fully implementing the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources.

(c) Increasing efforts, inter alia, to ensure that healthy fish stocks are achieved by

2020 at the latest, starting by fishing at, or below, maximum sustainable yield

levels as from 2015 in all fisheries, and establish an EU-wide quantitative

reduction target for marine litter.

(d) Strengthening efforts to reach full compliance with EU air quality legislation

and defining strategic targets and actions beyond 2020.

(e) Increasing efforts to reduce soil erosion and increase soil organic matter, to

remediate contaminated sites and to enhance the integration of land use aspects

into coordinated decision-making involving all relevant levels of government,

supported by the adoption of targets on soil and on land as a resource, and land

planning objectives.

(f) Taking further steps to reduce emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus, including

those from urban and industrial wastewater and from fertiliser use.

(g) Developing and implementing a new EU Forest Strategy that addresses the

multiple demands on and benefits of forests and contributes to a more strategic

approach to protecting and enhancing forests.


Priority objective 2: To turn the EU into a resource-efficient, green and competitive lowcarbon economy


(a) The EU has met its 2020 climate and energy targets and is working towards

reducing GHG emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990, as part of a

global effort to limit the average temperature increase below 2°C.

(b) The overall environmental impact of EU industry in all major industrial sectors

is significantly reduced, and resource efficiency increased.

(c) The overall environmental impact of production and consumption is reduced,

in particular in the food, housing and mobility sectors.

(d) Waste is safely managed as a resource, waste generated per capita is in

absolute decline, energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials and

landfilling of recyclable and compostable materials is effectively eradicated.

(e) Water stress in the EU is prevented or significantly reduced.

(a) Fully implementing the Climate and Energy Package and agreeing on the EU’s

climate and energy policy framework for the period beyond 2020.

(b) Generalising the application of ‘Best Available Techniques’ and enhancing

efforts to promote the uptake of emerging innovative technologies, processes

and services (c) Giving impetus to the public and private research and innovation efforts

required for rolling out innovative technologies, systems and business models

which will speed up and lower the cost of transition to a low-carbon, resourceefficient


(d) Establishing a more coherent framework for sustainable production and

consumption. Reviewing product legislation with a view to improving the

environmental performance and resource efficiency of products throughout

their lifecycle. Setting targets for the reduction of the overall impact of


(e) Fully implementing EU waste legislation. This will include applying the waste

hierarchy and the effective use of market-based instruments and measures to

ensure that landfilling is effectively phased out, energy recovery is limited to

non-recyclable materials, recycled waste is used as a major, reliable source of raw material for the EU, hazardous waste is safely managed and its generation is reduced, illegal waste shipments are eradicated and internal market barriers

for environmentally-sound recycling activities in the EU are removed.

(f) Improving water efficiency by setting targets at river basin level and using

market mechanisms, such as water pricing.


Priority objective 3: To safeguard EU citizens from environment-related pressures and

risks to health and wellbeing




(a) Air quality in the EU has significantly improved

(b) Noise pollution in the EU has significantly decreased.

(c) Citizens throughout the EU benefit from high standards for safe drinking and

bathing water.

(d) The combination effects of chemicals and safety concerns related to endocrine

disruptors are effectively addressed, and risks for the environment and health

associated with the use of hazardous substances, including chemicals in

products, is assessed and minimised.

(e) Safety concerns related to nanomaterials are effectively addressed as part of a

coherent approach across different legislation.

(f) Decisive progress is made in adapting to climate change impacts.

(a) Implementing updated EU policy on air quality, aligned with the latest

scientific knowledge, and measures to combat air pollution at source.

(b) Implementing updated EU noise policy aligned with the latest scientific

knowledge, and measures to reduce noise at source.

(c) Boosting efforts to implement the Drinking Water Directive, in particular for

small drinking water suppliers, and the Bathing Water Directive.

(d) Developing an EU strategy for a non-toxic environment, supported by a

comprehensive chemical exposure and toxicity knowledge base and conducive

to innovation of sustainable substitutes.

(e) Agreeing and implementing an EU climate adaptation strategy, including the

integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management

considerations into key EU policy initiatives and sectors.


Priority objective 4: To maximise the benefits of EU environment legislation


a) EU citizens have access to clear information showing how EU environment

law is being implemented.

(b) The implementation of specific environment legislation is improved.

(c) Respect for EU environmental law at all administrative levels is reinforced and

a level playing field in the internal market is guaranteed.

(d) Citizens’ trust and confidence in EU environment law is enhanced.

(e) The principle of effective legal protection for citizens and their organisations is





(a) Establishing systems at national level which actively disseminate information

about how EU environment legislation is being implemented, coupled with an

EU-level overview of individual Member States’ performance.

(b) Drawing up partnership implementation agreements between Member States

and the Commission.

(c) Extending binding criteria for effective Member State inspections and

surveillance to the wider body of EU environment law, and developing a

complementary capacity at EU level to address situations where there is due

reason for concern, backed up by support for networks of professionals.

(d) Setting up consistent and effective mechanisms at national level for the

handling of complaints about implementation of EU environment law

(e) Ensuring that national provisions on access to justice reflect the case law of the

Court of Justice of the European Union, and promoting non-judicial conflict

resolution as a means of finding amicable solutions for conflicts in the

environmental field.


Priority objective 5: To improve the evidence base for environment policy


a) Policy-makers and businesses have a better basis for developing and

implementing environment and climate policies, including measuring costs and


(b) Our understanding of and ability to evaluate and manage emerging

environmental and climate risk is greatly improved.

(c) The environment policy-science interface is strengthened.




(a) Coordinating and focusing research efforts at EU and Member State levels on

addressing key environmental knowledge gaps, including the risks of

environmental tipping-points.

(b) Adopting a systematic approach to risk management.

(c) Simplifying, streamlining and modernising environmental and climate change

data and information collection, management and sharing.



Priority objective 6: To secure investment for environment and climate policy and get the

prices right


a) Environment and climate policy objectives are achieved in a cost-effective way

and are supported by adequate finance.

(b) Private sector funding for environment and climate-related expenditure is



(a) Progressively phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, increasing the

use of market-based instruments, including taxation, pricing and charging, and

expanding markets for environmental goods and services, with due regard to

any adverse social impacts.

(b) Facilitating access to innovative financial instruments and funding for ecoinnovation.

(c) Adequately reflecting environmental and climate priorities in policies to

support economic, social and territorial cohesion.

(d) Dedicated efforts to ensure full and efficient use of available Union funding for

environment action, including by significantly improving its early uptake under

the Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 and devoting 20% of

the budget to climate change mitigation and adaptation through the

mainstreaming of climate action and linked to clear benchmarks, target setting,

monitoring and reporting.

(e) Developing and applying a system for reporting and tracking environment related

expenditure in the EU budget, notably on climate change and

biodiversity, by 2014.

(f) Integrating environment and climate-related considerations into the European

Semester process, where this is relevant for individual Member States’

prospects for sustainable growth and appropriate for country-specific


(g) Developing and applying alternative indicators that complement and go beyond

GDP to monitor how sustainable our progress is and continuing work to

integrate economic indicators with environmental and social indicators,

including natural capital accounting.


Priority objective 7: To improve environmental integration and policy coherence



Sectoral policies at EU and Member State level are developed and

implemented in a way that supports relevant environment and climate-related

targets and objectives

This requires, in particular:

(a) integrating environmental and climate-related conditionalities and incentives in

policy initiatives, including reviews and reforms of existing policy, as well as

new initiatives, at EU and Member State level;

(b) carrying out systematic ex-ante assessments of the environmental, social and

economic impacts of policy initiatives at EU and Member State level to ensure

their coherence and effectiveness.


Priority objective 8: To enhance the sustainability of EU cities


(a) A majority of cities in the EU are implementing policies for sustainable urban

planning and design.



(a) Defining and agreeing a set of criteria to assess the environmental performance

of cities, taking into account economic and social impacts.

(b) Ensuring that cities have information about and access to financing for

measures to improve urban sustainability.


Priority objective 9: To increase the EU’s effectiveness in addressing regional and global

environmental and climate challenges


(a) The outcomes of Rio+20 are fully integrated into the EU’s external policies

and the EU is contributing effectively to global efforts to implement agreed

commitments, including those under the Rio conventions.

(b) The EU is providing effective support to national, regional and international

efforts to address environment and climate challenges and to ensure sustainable


(c) The impact of consumption in the EU on the environment beyond its borders is




(a) Working towards the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals that: a)

address priority areas of an inclusive green economy and wider sustainable

development objectives, such as energy, water, food security, oceans and

sustainable consumption and production, as well as cross-cutting issues such as

equity, social inclusion, decent work, rule of law and good governance; b) are

universally applicable, covering all three areas of sustainable development; c)

are assessed and accompanied by targets and indicators, and d) are coherent

and integrated with the post-2015 development framework, and supportive of

climate actions.

(b) Working towards a more effective UN structure for sustainable development

through strengthening UNEP in line with the outcome of Rio+20, while

continuing to strive for an upgrade of UNEP’s status to that of UN Agency, and

supporting ongoing efforts to enhance synergies between Multilateral

Environmental Agreements;

(c) Strengthening the impact of various sources of funding, including taxation and

domestic resource mobilisation, private investment, new and innovative

sources, and creating options for using development aid to leverage these other

sources of financing as part of the sustainable development financing strategy

established in Rio, as well as in the EU’s own policies, including international

commitments on climate and biodiversity finance.

(d) Engaging with partner countries in a more strategic way. This should involve

focusing cooperation: 1) with strategic partners on the promotion of best

practice in domestic environment policy and legislation and convergence in

multilateral environmental negotiations; 2) with countries covered by the

European Neighbourhood Policy on gradual approximation with key EU

environment and climate policy and legislation and on strengthening

cooperation to address regional environmental and climate challenges; 3) with

developing countries to support their efforts to protect the environment, fight

climate change and reduce natural disasters, and implement international

environmental commitments as a contribution to poverty reduction and

sustainable development.

Engaging in multilateral environmental processes, including the UNFCCC,

CBD and the chemicals-related conventions, as well as other relevant fora,

such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International

Maritime Organization, in a more consistent, proactive and effective way with

a view to ensuring that commitments for 2020 are met at EU and global level,

and to agree on international action to be taken beyond 2020.

(f) Ratifying all key multilateral environmental agreements well before 2020.

(g) Assessing the environmental impact, in a global context, of EU consumption of

food and non-food commodities and possible related responses.





On table



A Carbon Mountain in New York

Simple Works

Environmentalists are an earnest low. They think people will be persuaded by science and reason.

Asking people to change their lives is not easy. It is harder if the issue is not explained to them. On Climate Change there is often a battle of data between two sides. The politicians are confused and the public don’t understand what’s going on.


This is an alternative

I enjoyed this video explaining traffic carbon emissions in New York. Watch it. Let me know if you think it is effective.


Europe’s Conservatives Work to Block CFP Reform

Ulrike Rodust is German Social Democrat MEP  who wants to  makes Europe’s Fisheries Policy  work.

A Failed Putsch

That she is the Fisheries Committee’s lead on the reform of the CFP is a small miracle. The Fisheries Committee traditionally has a Meditereanean  air to it. The Conservative Group, the EPP, tried to shut out the Socialists and Greens out at the very start from having any lead role in any report. This putsch against the Parliament’s own rules was led by the Spanish EPP strong woman, Carmen Fraga, the former fishing minister from Galacia.

EP Blocks Med Coup

Whilst democracy may be new to some, the grown up leaders in the EP put a stop to such antics. They forced the fisheries committee to follow the Parliament rules. Mrs Rodust got the lead role. And, after that the EPP tried everything and anything to block reform.

Protecting Franco’s Economic Model? 

They are not stupid to try wrecking reform. They know the German Christian Democrats are not interested in the issue of fisheries. Why would anyone be interested in an industry that employs so few? But, the Spanish, who built their industry up under the then dictator Franco, fight to keep this economic creature of the State alive. Perhaps, because if the fishing industry had to live financially by their own guile, and not benefit from the subsidies regime that seemingly keep them alive, would be an admittance that Franco’s last economic legacy is dead.

EPP Work to Block Reform 

The EPP are calling for more subsidies for their industry and even support the use of taxpayers money to pay for boat building. They are even working to block Sweden, Norway and Denmark introduce a discards ban.

Now, as a deal between the other political groups seems nearer, Carmen Fraga is seeking to deal progress again. On Monday 12 November, she called for all compromise amendments to be translated. This is strange as this is an issue that has not been raised before. And, to do so at this very late stage, can only be seen as a way to block a vote in the fishing committee on 18 December.

150,000 Pandas Support Reform 

You can see Mrs Rodust’s frustration in her letter bellow after WWF’s Petition on CFP Reform.


Good day


Many thanks for your email, and also for your support for an ambitious reform of Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy.


As Parliament’s rapporteur on the fisheries reform, I am putting all my efforts into achieving, finally, a sustainable policy for fisheries so that future generations can still go fishing and eat fish and to ensure very importantly that our marine environment is protected.  It is currently my responsibility to lead the compromise negotiations within Parliament for key decisions on this issue and I am doing all I can to convince a majority of my Parliamentary colleagues of the priorities for reform.  This is unfortunately no easy task in a Parliament where conservative Members represent by far the largest political grouping.  I am therefore particularly grateful for your support – it is so good that the public becomes more and more aware of the need to stop overfishing and ensure a sustainable future for Europe’s fish and fishermen.


With all best wishes

Ulrike Rodust

Life on the Campaign Trail

I spent a few years running campaigns – political and NGO. I loved the work, but it tires you out. It exhausts you but it fun.

If you are tempted to live on the road as a political campaign consultant I’d recommend you read this first@