When it comes to environmental policies, there is no doubt that the European Union is light years ahead of the United States. But of course, EU member states don't have to deal with an administration that only now grudgingly acknowledges the possibility of global warming or the need to embrace recycling or other environmental laws at the federal level. My personal opinion aside, the EU's recently released annual environment policy review speaks for itself.
The purpose of the EU's annual Environment Policy Review (EPR) is to not only highlight the key developments in environment policy at EU and Member States level over the last year, but also to serve as a way to monitor its progress in key environmental goals. It includes recent findings, environmental trends and key issues for 2007.
In 2006, the EU made strides in dealing with climate change via the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. It also renewed its EU Sustainable Development Strategy, and in December 2006 adopted the new REACH chemicals regulation, which will require the registration of about 30,000 chemical substances. The EU expects that the most dangerous chemicals will be progressively phased out and replaced by safer substances.
In addition, under the EU's European Energy Strategy there is a proposal to reduce energy by 20% by 2020, and in early 2007 the commission proposed an integrated energy and climate change package for a new Energy Policy in Europe whereby member states agree to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
The review also notes that at the end of 2006, there were 420 infringement cases on environment legislation, and the Commission is working to improve the handling of these cases.
Looking ahead, the Commission will continue to look at ways to promote energy efficiency, eco-design, eco-innovation and clean technologies as well as to improve its implementation of environmental legislation. For more details about the EU's Environment Policy Review visit http://ec.europa.eu/environment/policyreview.htm.