Environmental Policy in the European Union

In last decade we can notice a trend of constant growth of environmental pollution in Europe and also elsewhere in the world. Every year European Union produces around 2 billion tone of waste materials and the number is getting 10% bigger every year. There is also a constant increase of carbon dioxide emissions that are a result of increasing consumption of energy and cars. Majority of European Union members is fighting with utmost and more and more frequent weather conditions, heat waves and floods, that have disastrous outcomes – economic and also for people.

Climate changes have influence on the environment and our everyday lives. Nineties were the most warm decade of century across the globe. Because of all listed reasons the protection of environment is one of the most important and most demanding challenges placed in front of European Union to deal with. There have been many criticisms made that European Union is placing trade and economic development before care for environment. That is also one of the reasons why European Union decided to defend ratification of Kyoto protocol.

This protocol places obligatory boundary values for emissions of greenhouse gases in industrialized states and is appointing new implementing mechanisms, founded on market laws, such as trading with emission coupons, common implementation and “mechanism of clean development”. Consequences of polluted environment are visibly reflected on health of all citizens of European Union. Especially in urban environment where noise, stress, air and water pollution are cause of many health conditions and allergies.

Also on field of saving energy and dealing with waist a lot has been done already, however it is still necessary to look in to other numerous possibility’s for reducing to health harmful effects of wast materials. Environmental legislation of European Union is incredibly extensive. It is made of numerous directives, regulations and decrees. Approximately 90% of legislation of individual European Union members is derived by environmental legislation of European Union. European Union is trying its best to achieve permanent development, highest possible protection of environment, health, lives of people and complete treatment of all points of view of environment.

European Union excepted first environmental action program on November 22, 1973. It was excepted in Council of ministers based on proposal of Committee and it represents first real attempt of designating basic principles and goals of environmental policy in European community. It also describes all the necessary activities from different fields of environment. In period from year 2001 to 2010 the environmental policy of European Union is priorly oriented mainly on four key fields that are captured in sixth Environment action programme.

The key field are climatic changes, second assembling captures nature and biotic diversity, third assembling captures indistinguishable connection between environment and health, fourth field of environmental action plan introduces natural source and treatment with waste materials. With determining priority tasks on field of protection of environmental European Union wants to ensure efficient reaction on global challenges in world level as on specific problems, with which we meet on the Community level and on national or local level.

This paper will try to introduce you to basic principles of policy of environmental protection in European Union and implementation of those in everyday life. At the beginning there will be a short historical overview of environmental policy. Next will be the representation of an empirical analysis based on five indicators that were devised by European Environment Agency. The main idea is to check if the care for environment is on a higher level in old members of European Union in comparison to new European union members (without Romania and Bulgaria because the data is not available yet).

In the end there will be a summary of some main resolutions and general findings. 2. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY IN EU When the agreement on founding European Economic Community was contracted (Rome, 1957) environmental policy was still not mentioned anywhere. The reason for that was, that at that time the environmental awareness was still on a really low level all around the world. In 1960 none of the European members had a clearly defined environmental policy of their own.

Until 1987 the environment was not a priority for European Community. Certain environment protection laws were adopted which were supposed to release trading barriers. This laws were intended only for individual domains – radiation, vehicle gases, packaging and labeling chemicals and so on. Care about protecting an environment somewhat increased in seventies. In year 1972 the accelerated activities of European Community began with four action programmes. These were based on vertical and sectoral approach concerning ecological problems.

In July 1972 the first Environmental Action Programme (EAP) covering the period 1973-1976 was adopted at the Paris Summit of the Head of States and Government. Basics of European Union environmental policy were that special attention would be devoted to protection of environment in frame of economic development and improvement of life. In 1973 the Environment & Consumer Protection Committee DGIII and the Committee on the Environment in the European Parliament were instituted. Second Environmental action programme followed in 1977 and the third in year 1982.

Many things changed in terms of legislation in this period, chiefly related with limiting pollution by introducing minimum standards. This led to the adoption of a series of directives on waste management, noise abatement, protection of natural resources (air and water) and nature conservation. In 1981, the reorganisation of the Commission transfered the environmental responsibilities from DG III (Industrial Policy) to DG XI (Environment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection). The Court of Justice declared in 1985 that environmental protection is one of the “essential objectives” of the European Community.

In the same year the Forth European Action Programme (1987-1992) took place and 1987 was proclamed European Year of the Environment. The Maastricht Treaty signed in 1993 represented a progress in environment protection because it added the concept of “sustainable and non-inflationary growth respecting the environment” to the Community’s duties and adopted the precautionary principle as issue of European policies. Environment became a core goal of the European Union and with signing the Agreement of Amsterdam in 1997 the environment protection was one of its absolute priorities.

Fifth Environment action programme for period from 1992 to 2000 began in 1993. This programme marked the beginning of a “horizontal” Community approach which took account of all the causes of pollution – industry, energy, tourism, transport and so on. Today there is already sixth Environment action programme in use in European Union. It applies on the years from 2001 to 2010 and its title is “Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice”. It brings us new guidelines in the environmental policy. It clearly determines priorities of Community until year 2010.

There are four main points: climate changes, preserving animals and plants, environment and health and the last point is managing natural sources and care for waste materials. 3. EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS As mentioned before, the goal of this research is to find out if taking care of the environment has a bigger importance for old members of European Union than it has for new members. Dividing members to new and old is based on the devision that happened in March 2004 because data about Bulgaria and Romania is still not available. For this paper I divided 25 members of European Union into two groups.

EU-15 represents old members and EU-10 represents new members. 1 Because of the nature of this topic I used only secondary data for empirical analysis. My hypotheses is that old European Union members are more concerned and give a greater meaning to the environment than new members do. I am especially interested in basic differences between individual members and their approach to successfully dealing with goals they set. For testing the hypotheses I used only four of 37 indicators that European Environment Agency (EEA) set.

These indicators make it easier to compare members because all the data is collected in methodologically comparable way. Used indicators and all the resaults are in the folowing order. First is indicator with a mark CSI 002. This indicator determens the amount of emissions of ozone-forming gases (ground-level ozone precursors). Next is indicator CSI 010 that measures greenhouse gas emission trends. Third indicator is indicator CSI 018. It shows us consumption of freshwater resources. The fourth indicator I used is called freight transport demand also known as CSI 036.

It shows a rapid grow of transport and its generally strongly connection with growth in GDP. The resaults I got with the observed indicators are not supposed to be taken as the finnal picture of environmental policys of studied groups of European Union members. These resaults only indicate certain patterns of momentary (trend) happenings on that field. Some variations from expected resaults can be consequence of natural climath and geographical differences of individual members and also other historical, sociological and basic economical factors that differ from one state to another.

3. 1 Emissions of ozone-forming gases – CSI 002 Climate changes are one of largest environmental, social and economic dangers for our planet and they represent a big challenge not just for European Union but also for whole world. Air pollution reduces life expectancy of Europeans from 9 to 24 months. Current forecasts say that by the year 2020 more than million km2 of fresh waters, soil, forests and other habitats will be destroyed because of acid rain and eutrophication2 if additional measures will not be taken (Pregled okoljske politike za leto 2005, page 9).

In both groups of members traffic is the main source of emissions. In year 2002 traffic represented 48% of all emissions for EU-15 and 40% of all emissions for EU-10. Key substancs responseble for forming a harmful ozone are NOx, CO, CH4 and NMVOC. 3 Emission of these substances reduced for more tahn 34% in period from 1990 to 2002. The main reason for that was introduction of catalysts in new cars. From grapf it is visable that both groups of European Union members were successful in reducing ozone-forming gases. Grapf 1: Indexes of emissions of ozone-forming gases for EU-15 and EU-10 in period 1990-2002.

Source: European Environment Agency (www. eea. europa. eu) In EU-15 members the emission substances decresed for 34%. The mair reason were new car catalysts and incresed penetration of diesel. Of course we should not neglect the implementation of the solvents directive in industrial processes. Emissions from the transport and energy sectors have both significatly reduced. That contributed 9% and 64% of the total reduction in weighted ozone precursor emissions. Between 1990 and 2004 total ozone emissions were reduced by 40% in the EU-10.

In 2002 the most segnificant pollutans contributing to the formation of tropospheric ozone were emission of non-methan volatile organic compounds (35%) and nitrogen oxides (51%). EU-10 same as EU-15 mostly reduced trafic emissions (around 26%) and energy industry emissions (25%). In last 15 years the biggest progress in reducing emissions showed Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia. They all reduced their emissions for more then half but on the other side among the EU-15 only Germany managed to do that (European Environment Agency, 8.

12. 2007). 3. 2 Greenhouse gas emission trends – CSI 010 Long-term goal of the European Union is to prevent global temperature to increase for more than 2? Celsius above the temperature in pre-industrial time (www. europa. eu, 8. 12. 2007). That means that by 2050 the hole world has to decrese greenhouse gas emissions for at least 15% in comparesment with year 1990. Special goal is CO2. In 2003 the total emission of greenhouse gases for EU-25 was 4925 million tons or 8% lower than in year 1989.

European Union registered increase of CO2 emissions (especially because of transport sector), but this increase was compensated with bigger decrease of total emissions of other gases. Graph 2: Greenhouse gas emission indexes for EU-25, EU-15 and EU-10 in years 1990-2002 Source: European Environment Agency (www. eea. europa. eu) Greenhouse gas emission in EU-15 group was 1,7% lower in year 2003 than in year 1989. This decrease was consequence of successful measures of Germany and the United Kingdom, which are the biggest „producers“ of greenhouse gases in European Union.

Between years 1989 and 2003 Germany managed to lower here gas emissions by almost 18,5% and United Kindom by 13,3%. France and Italy, that are immediately after them, were not doing so well. France managed to decrease emissions by 1,9% and on the other hand Italy increased emission by 11,6%. In Finland, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal emissions in average increased by 20% after year 1990 (European Environment Agency, 8. 12. 2007). EU-10 members managed to decreas emission of six greenhouse gases by more than 32,3%.

They managed to do that especialy because of members that were in a process of economic restructuring transition process. The most important gas that was reason for most (82,7%) greenhouse gas emissions was CO2. In years 1989-2003 new members managed to decrease its emission by 31,7%. In last 15 years total emissions of CO2 in European Union members increased by 23% due to transport and carbon monoxide by 100%. The main reason is that catalytic converters, which reduce cars’ exhaust emissions but as by-product produce N2O, became a standard equipment.

CO2 emissions from energy industries increased by 3,3% because of increasing fossil fuel consumption. On the other hand the most decreases were due to manufacturing industries and construction. Emission of CO2 decreased by 11% since 1989 and emissions of N2O by 56% (especially in the United Kingdom, Germany and France). Emissions of all other greenhouse gases decreased by 4% due to manufacturing industias in years form 1989 to 2003 (European Environment Agency, 29. 11. 2007). 3. 3 Use of freshwater resources – CSI 018.

Water is a natural element on which climate changes have the greates influence. Almost half of Europeans still live in water-stressed countrys. The warning threshold for the water exploitation index (WEI), which distinguishes a non-stressed from a stressed region, is around 20 %. When the WEI is over 40% severe water stress can occur and it indicates unsustainable water use (for example Cyprus). If we look at the grapf 3 we can see that usage of freshwater between 1990 and 2003 decreased in 13 states (8 members of EU-10 and 5 members of EU-154).

At the same the usage increased in 7 states (one member of EU-10 and 6 members of EU-155) of European Union. 6 Cyprus, Malta, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium are seven members with big water problems. Use of freshwater decreased mostly in new members of European Union, due to lower consumption of water in most economical activities in those states. This trend is consequence of numerous institucional and economical changes. Because of decrease of activities in manufacturing industry and agricultur in time of transition new members decreased their usage of freshwaters by 70%.

Data for most members of European Union show a decreasing trend in freshwater consumption, but this trend is slightly more emphasised with new members. Total consumption of freshwaters for both groups of members in years 1990-2002 staied at the same level – EU-10 around 14%, EU-15 around 13% (European Environment Agency, 8. 12. 2007). Grapf 3: Use of freshwater resources in European Union members for years 1990-2002 Source: European Environment Agency (www. eea. europa. eu) 3. 4 Freight transport demand – CSI 036 Transportation is the main problem of the European environmental policy.

Usage of freight transport has grown since 1992. Because of this it is diffiult to restrain bad inpact it has on the environment. Growth of freight transport is almost parallel with the growth of GDP. That is why European Union is aiming to separate thise two connected variables. If we look closely we can see that theer are great regional differences. The growth of transport is faster than GDP in old European Union members and slower than GDP in new European Union members. This is mainly a result of the economic restructuring in new European Union members in past 15 years.

Goods that are perishable and high-value goods require fast and reliable transport. For those goods road transport is usualy the fastest and most reliable form available and it provides much flexibility (pickup and delivery points). On the other hand agricultural products and manufactured goods are some of the most important goods transportet throughout Europe. The freight transport demand in Europe has been increasing since 1992. If we compare both groups of European Union members we can see that the demand is growing a bit faster in members of EU-15.

A reason for that could be that the internal market leads to some relocation of production processes and that causes assitional growth in transport demand over and above the steady growth in GDP. Usage of alternative modes (trains and inland waterways) in freight transport has declined in last ten years. As a result of that the the objective that has been mantioned in the Common Transport Policy (CTP) of stabilising the shares of rail, inland waterways, short-sea shipping and so on, will not be achieved unless there is a big change in the current trend (European Environment Agency, 16.

12. 2007). Grapf 4: Indexes of freight transport demand for EU-15 in EU-10 in years 1995 to 2003 Source: European Environment Agency (www. eea. europa. eu) In 2003 freight transport demand in EU-15 members was by 19% higher than in 1995. Demand in same year for EU-10 members was by 15% higher than in 1995. Among individual members of EU-15 Luxembourg had the highest consumption of freight transport in year 2003. 3. 5 Key findings Members of EU-15 have a long lasting tradition of taking care of the environment but they still have numerous problems they are dealing with.

On a good path dealing with air pollution problem are mostly states of Western Europe, which have resstructed their economi sector and/or they have a long history of making their own environmental laws. We are thinking mostly about Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Sweden. For these members it is also characteristic that their economi is less intensive but still their consumption of energy is high. Ireland, Portugal and Spain have problems meeting certain environmental goals and they are also known as members with high emission.

Luxembourg, Greece, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Austria and Denmark have relatively high percentage of ozone-forming gases emission and greenhouse gas emission (The European Environment: State and Outlook 2005, page 408). For EU-10 members a high percentage of gas emission is characteristic. In spite of this we have to emphasize that they are on a good way to meeting their goals set for the air quality. Many states from this group have a high demand for transport, especialy road transport, which even increases the amount of greenhouse gas emission and emissions of ozone-forming gases.

If we looked closely at the numbers concerning the amount of waist in European Union members, we would determin that the level of waist in those European Union members in comparesment with other memebers is still on a low level. That can be consequence of low level of waist or just non-sistematic carting of waist materials (The European Environment: State and Outlook 2005, page 408). 4. CONCLUSIONS Environmental policy has a long tradition (ower 30 years) in European Union. It brought a lot good to its inhabitants – clean air, clean water, better waist policy, more ecologic products and so on.

Because of many new challenges and some problems at meeting this challenges European Union adopted already sixth Environment action programme for the period 2001-2010. Fight against climat changes is a big challenge but it is fundamental for the future of this planet. Apart from that it will bring us a better quality of air, water, it will bring us more economical benefits and that way European Union will not have to relay on oil and gas import. European Union members should lean upon products and activities which cause smaller emission of greenhouse gases.

This requires an approach to industrial, traffic and energetic policys which is based on lower carbon use. That means more efficient use of fossil fuels and changing them with reneweble sources of energy (wind, sun). Many laws and goals already guide European Union towards low carbone consumption society. Laws about marking products help consumers to notice when they are buying an energetikaly efficient refrigerator, washing machine or some other household appliance. Improved energy efficiency plays a key role in meeting the European Kyoto target.

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