Tag Archives: Environmental cooperation

EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities

EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 October 2006 entitled “EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities” [COM(2006) 631 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The European Union (EU) supports the sustainable development of China by strengthening its partnership for political, economic and social reform. Strong economic growth in China has promoted stability and poverty reduction but the country still faces significant challenges.

In this respect, the two partners have decided to re-assess their trade and cooperation agreement in order to establish a more global partnership, covering the whole of their relationship.

The Commission also presents the cooperation priorities for the partners, which take into consideration their joint interests and the development of their relationship.

Supporting political transition

The EU and China hold regular political dialogue on human rights, the protection of minorities and the strengthening of the rule of law. In this field, the partners shall:

  • orient their objectives towards achieving concrete results;
  • monitor their actions;
  • coordinate their actions with bilateral dialogues conducted between China and the EU Member States.

Promoting energy efficiency and environmental protection

China and the EU are two of the principal actors in the global energy markets. Their cooperation is carried out within a context of increased energy demands. In particular, it aims to:

  • improve transparency and the regulatory environment of the energy sector;
  • exchange techniques and information for managing resources effectively, and the development of renewable energies;
  • favour investment and the opening up of public procurement;
  • promote the application of international standards.

On the basis of a joint declaration in 2005, the EU assists China on preventing pollution, protecting biodiversity, combating deforestation, and the sustainable management of fisheries, water resources and raw materials.

This declaration also opens the way for closer cooperation on tackling climate change, specifically in order to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.

Balancing economic and social development

The EU proposes extending the political dialogue to decent work standards, health and the ageing population.

In addition, China must reform its growth model in order to promote social inclusion and to increase the purchasing power of its population. The partners shall cooperate to define and implement balanced monetary and fiscal policies.

Improving trade and economic relations

The EU is China’s largest trading partner. Its imports represent more than 19 % of China’s external trade. In addition, the growing Chinese market represents a significant export opportunity for European companies.

In order to comply with commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the partners must specifically:

  • promote the opening up of the Chinese market to investments and exports;
  • define fair trade rules, specifically regarding protecting intellectual property rights and decent work standards;
  • resolve trade disputes through dialogue or trade defence measures and the WTO dispute settlement system.

Strengthening sectoral cooperation

More targeted bilateral cooperation is needed in the following fields:

  • cooperation in science and technology, including the participation of researchers in the respective research programmes and projects of each of the partners;
  • immigration, to establish a legal framework for exchanges and readmission, but also concerning the fight against organised crime and terrorism;
  • cultural exchanges, by supporting relations between the civil societies;
  • education, through student exchange programmes and interaction between universities.

Encouraging security and international cooperation

The EU and China both have an interest in conducting a structured dialogue on peace and security in certain regions of the world, particularly in East Asia, where China is a key player. The EU also supports dialogue between China and Taiwan in order to promote the stability of the region.

The cooperation also concerns transparency on military expenditure, nuclear non-proliferation and the progressive lifting of the European arms embargo.

Lastly, the partners must work together to coordinate international actions in the area of development aid, particularly for sustainable development, peace and stability in Africa.


Pure air for Europe

Pure air for Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Pure air for Europe


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Pure air for Europe

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.


This Directive lays down measures aimed at the following:

  • defining and establishing objectives for ambient air quality * designed to reduce harmful effects on health and the environment;
  • assessing the ambient air quality in Member States on the basis of common methods and criteria;
  • collating information on ambient air quality in order to monitor long-term trends, in particular;
  • ensuring that such information on ambient air quality is made available to the public;
  • maintaining air quality where it is good and improving it in other cases;
  • promoting increased cooperation between the Member States in reducing air pollution.

Member States shall designate the competent authorities and bodies responsible for evaluating the quality of ambient air, approving measurement systems, ensuring the accuracy of measurements, analysing assessment methods and cooperating with other Member States and the Commission.

Air quality assessment

This Directive establishes a system for the assessment of ambient air quality in relation to sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2,5), lead, benzene and carbon monoxide as well as ozone.

Member States shall establish areas or zones (urban, suburban, rural, rural background) throughout their territory, and assess and manage the air quality.

This Directive sets thresholds for assessment for each pollutant, criteria for the assessment method (in particular the siting of sampling points), reference methods for measurement, limit values * for the protection of human health and the environment, the target and the obligation of reducing exposure for the population to PM2,5, information thresholds * and alert thresholds *, critical levels * for the protection of vegetation and the list of information to be included in action plans for improvement in air quality.

Each Member State shall set up at least one measuring station and may, by agreement with adjoining Member States, set up one or several common measuring stations.

Air quality management and action plans

Where the levels of pollutants in ambient air are below the limit values specified in this Directive, Member States shall maintain the levels of those pollutants below the limit values and shall endeavour to preserve the best ambient air quality, compatible with sustainable development.

Where, in given zones or agglomerations, the levels of pollutants in ambient air exceed any limit value or target value *, plus any relevant margin of tolerance in each case, Member States shall ensure that air quality plans are established for those zones and agglomerations in order to achieve the predefined limit value or target value.

In the event of exceedances of those limit values for which the attainment deadline is already expired, the air quality plans shall set out appropriate measures, so that the exceedance period can be kept as short as possible and can include additional specific measures to protect sensitive population groups. Measures similar to those laid down in short-term action plans may be considered.

Where there is a risk that the levels of pollutants will exceed the alert thresholds, Member States shall draw up action plans indicating the measures to be taken in the short term in order to reduce the risk or its duration. These actions plans can in particular suspend activities which contribute to the risk of exceedance (motor-vehicle traffic, construction works, the use of industrial plants etc.). In addition, these action plans may include specific measures aimed at the protection of sensitive population groups, in particular children.

Where thresholds are exceeded due to transboundary transport of air pollutants, the Member States concerned shall cooperate and coordinate their work in order to remove the exceedance.

Public information

Member States shall ensure that up-to-date information on ambient concentrations of the pollutants covered by this Directive is routinely made available to the public and the bodies concerned. Where alert thresholds and information thresholds are exceeded, Member States shall publish:

  1. information on the exceedance or exceedances observed (place, type of threshold, time and duration of the exceedance, highest concentration observed);
  2. forecasts for the following hours and days;
  3. information on the type of population concerned, possible health effects and recommended behaviour;
  4. information on preventative measures and measures to reduce the emissions.

Member States shall also make available to the public annual reports for all pollutants covered by this Directive.


Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.


This Directive repeals and replaces Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air quality assessment and management, Directive 1999/30/EC relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead in ambient air, Directive 2000/69/EC relating to limit values for benzene and carbon monoxide in ambient air, Directive 2002/3/EC relating to ozone in ambient air and Decision 97/101/EC establishing a reciprocal exchange of information and data on air pollution within the Member States.

Key Terms of the Act
  • Ambient air: outdoor air in the troposphere, excluding workplaces as defined by Directive 89/645/EEC.
  • Limit value: a level fixed on the basis of scientific knowledge, with the aim of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and/or the environment as a whole, to be attained within a given period and not to be exceeded once attained.
  • Target value: a level fixed with the aim of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and/or the environment as a whole, to be attained where possible over a given period.
  • Information threshold: a level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for particularly sensitive sections of the population and for which immediate and appropriate information is necessary.
  • Alert threshold: a level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for the population as a whole and at which immediate steps are to be taken by the Member States.
  • Critical level: a level fixed on the basis of scientific knowledge, above which direct adverse effects may occur on some receptors, such as trees, other plants or natural ecosystems but not on humans.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/50/EC [adoption COD/2005/0183]



OJ L 152 of 11.6.2008

Sixth Environment Action Programme

Sixth Environment Action Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Sixth Environment Action Programme


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

Sixth Environment Action Programme

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community, “Environment 2010: Our future, Our choice” [COM (2001) 31 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community entitled “Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice” covers the period from 22 July 2002 to 21 July 2012. The programme is based on the Fifth Environment Action Programme, which covered the period 1992-2000, and on the decision regarding its review.

A strategic approach

This Communication makes it clear that meeting the challenges of today’s environmental problems means looking beyond a strictly legislative approach and taking a strategic approach. This approach requires the use of a whole range of instruments and measures to influence the decisions made by business, consumers, policy actors and citizens.

The Communication proposes five main avenues for strategic action:

  • improving the implementation of existing legislation;
  • integrating environmental concerns into other policies;
  • working in partnership with business;
  • empowering citizens and changing their behaviour;
  • taking account of the environment in land-use planning and management.

Specific actions are proposed for each of these avenues.

To improve the implementation of the legislation, the following specific actions are outlined:

  • support for the IMPEL network and its extension to the candidate countries;
  • reporting on the implementation of environmental law;
  • a “name, shame and fame” strategy on the implementation of environmental law;
  • the improvement of standards for environmental inspection;
  • initiatives to combat environmental crimes;
  • pursuing action in the European Court to ensure implementation.

To integrate environmental concerns into other policies, the Communication proposes:

  • establishing additional integration mechanisms;
  • implementing the Treaty provisions on integration;
  • the further development of indicators to monitor the integration process.

Working in partnership with business could involve:

  • encouraging a wider uptake of the Community’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS);
  • encouraging companies to publish their performance and to comply with environmental requirements;
  • introducing company environmental performance reward schemes;
  • encouraging voluntary commitments;
  • establishing an integrated product policy;
  • promoting the use and evaluating the effectiveness of the eco-label scheme;
  • the promotion of green procurement;
  • the adoption of legislation on environmental liability.

To empower citizens and change behaviour, the following actions are suggested:

  • helping citizens to benchmark and to improve their environmental performance;
  • improving the quality of information on the environment.

To take account of the environment in land-use planning and management, the following actions are proposed:

  • publishing a communication on the importance of integrating the environment into land-use planning and management;
  • improving the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive;
  • spreading best practice and fostering the exchange of experience on sustainable development, including urban development;
  • including sustainable development in Community regional policy;
  • boosting agri-environmental measures within the Common Agricultural Policy;
  • developing a partnership for the sustainable management of tourism.

The Sixth Environment Action Programme focuses on four priority areas for action: climate change; biodiversity; environment and health; and sustainable management of resources and wastes.

Climate change

The Sixth Environment Action Programme recognises the fact that climate change poses the main challenge for the next ten years. The objective in this area is to reduce greenhouse gases to a level that will not cause unnatural variations of the earth’s climate.

In the short term, the European Union’s aim is to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol, i.e. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 % by 2008-2012 compared with 1990 levels. In the longer term, by 2020 it will be necessary to reduce these emissions by 20 to 40 % by means of an effective international agreement.

Community efforts to meet the challenges of climate change will be varied:

  • the integration of climate change objectives into various Community policies, in particular energy policy and transport policy;
  • the reduction of greenhouse gases by means of specific measures to improve energy efficiency, to make increased use of renewable energy sources, to promote agreements with industry and to make energy savings;
  • the establishment of an EU-wide emissions trading scheme;
  • improved research on climate change;
  • the improvement of the information provided to citizens on climate change;
  • a review of energy subsidies and their compatibility with climate change objectives;
  • preparing society for the impact of climate change.

Nature and biodiversity

The objective given in the Communication in this area is to protect and restore the structure and functioning of natural systems and halt the loss of biodiversity both in the European Union and on a global scale.

The actions proposed to achieve this objective are as follows:

  • the implementation of environmental legislation, in particular in the areas of water and air;
  • extension of the scope of the Seveso II Directive;
  • coordination of Community Member States’ actions in the case of accidents and natural disasters;
  • examination of the need to protect plants and animals from ionising radiation;
  • protection, conservation and restoration of landscapes;
  • protection and promotion of the sustainable development of forests;
  • establishment of a Community strategy for the protection of the soil;
  • the protection and restoration of marine habitats and the coast, and extension of the Natura 2000 network to include them;
  • reinforcement of controls on labelling, monitoring and traceability of GMOs;
  • the integration of nature conservation and biodiversity into commercial and development cooperation policies;
  • the creation of programmes for gathering information on nature conservation and biodiversity;
  • support for research in the field of nature conservation.

Environment and health

The objective described in the Communication in this field is to achieve a quality of the environment which does not give rise to significant impacts on, or risks to, human health.

The Communication proposes:

  • identifying the risks to human health, including that of children and the elderly, and setting standards accordingly;
  • introducing environment and health priorities into other policies and standards on water, air, waste and soil;
  • intensifying research on health and the environment;
  • developing a new system for the evaluation and the risk management of chemicals;
  • banning or limiting the use of the most hazardous pesticides and ensuring that best practice is applied;
  • ensuring the implementation of legislation on water;
  • ensuring the application of air quality standards and defining a strategy on air pollution;
  • adopting and implementing the Directive on Noise.

Management of natural resources and waste

The objective is to ensure that the consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources does not exceed the carrying capacity of the environment and to achieve a decoupling of resource use from economic growth through significantly improved resource efficiency and the reduction of waste. With regard to waste, the specific target is to reduce the quantity going to final disposal by 20 % by 2010 and 50 % by 2050.

The actions to be undertaken are as follows:

  • the development of a strategy for the sustainable management of resources by laying down priorities and reducing consumption;
  • the taxation of resource use;
  • the removal of subsidies that encourage the overuse of resources;
  • the integration of resource efficiency considerations into integrated product policy, eco-labelling schemes, environmental assessment schemes, etc.;
  • establishing a strategy for the recycling of waste;
  • the improvement of existing waste management schemes and investment in quantitative and qualitative prevention;
  • the integration of waste prevention into the integrated product policy and the Community strategy on chemicals.

Thematic strategies

The action programme envisages the adoption of seven thematic strategies covering air pollution, the marine environment, sustainable use of resources, prevention and recycling of waste, sustainable use of pesticides, soil protection and urban environment.

These strategies are based on a global approach, by theme, rather than on certain pollutants or types of economic activity, as has been the case in the past. They set long-term objectives, based on the assessment of environmental problems and on the search for a synergy between the various strategies and with the Lisbon strategy’s growth and employment objectives. They also provide an opportunity to simplify and clarify existing legislation.

The international context

The integration of environmental concerns into all aspects of the European Union’s external relations is one of the Sixth Environment Action Programme’s objectives. This objective takes account of the prospect of European Union enlargement and suggests there should be an extended dialogue with the administrations in the candidate countries on sustainable development, and the establishment of close cooperation with the NGOs and business in these countries. The application of international agreements on the environment is strongly encouraged.

A solid scientific basis

The Sixth Programme proposes a new approach to the development of environmental measures so that the parties concerned and the general public are more involved in their application. This approach includes a broad dialogue and the participation of industry, NGOs and the public authorities.

The programme will be increasingly based on scientific and economic analyses and on environmental indicators. For this purpose, the Commission will work in close cooperation with the European Environment Agency (EEA).


Decision No 1600/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 2002 laying down the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme [Official Journal L 242, 10.9.2002].
This Decision establishes the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme. It lays down the objectives, timetables and priorities, the main avenues of the strategic approach and the four areas of action as described by the Communication on the Sixth Environmental Action Programme of the European Community, “Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice”. No more than four years after the adoption of this Decision, initiatives must be taken in each area of action.
During the fourth year of operation of the Programme and upon its completion, the Commission is to submit assessment reports to the European Parliament and the Council.

EU-Russia environmental cooperation

EU-Russia environmental cooperation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU-Russia environmental cooperation


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Eastern europe and central asia

EU-Russia environmental cooperation

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 17 December 2001 – EU-Russia environmental cooperation [COM(2001)772 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The dialogue and cooperation conducted between the European Union (EU) and Russia must be strengthened with regard to the environment.

The progress achieved by Russia in this area should benefit its socio-economic development, particularly in the energy and water resource management sectors, by complying with international standards for products and services intended for export, and promoting investment.

Existing cooperation frameworks

The Agreement on partnership and cooperation adopted in 1997 and its joint work programme on the environment are the partners’ principal instruments in this area.

The partners also set environmental objectives under the framework of:

  • the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue ;
  • the EU common strategy on Russia adopted in June 1999 (energy efficiency, sustainable use of natural resources, combating pollution, waste management, etc.);

The country must also renew its commitment to international cooperation, particularly under the framework of the Northern Dimension policy and the Conventions concerning the Regional Seas (the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and Atlantic Ocean), as well as the implementation of multi-lateral agreements on the environment and combating climate change.

Cooperation priorities

However, the partners’ cooperation objectives must be expanded. The new priorities are primarily based on Russia’s national objectives for the environment and resource management. In particular, these concern conserving ecosystems and developing an environmentally-friendly economy. These priorities must also comply with the principles of the European strategy for sustainable development.

In addition, the partners establish a set of short-term priorities, in particular:

  • energy and natural resource savings through the development of adapted technologies, processes and products;
  • improving environmental standards, controls and assessments;
  • waste water treatment and reducing atmospheric pollution;
  • combating industrial pollution by applying the ‘polluter pays principle’;
  • establishing mechanisms to encourage investment, including foreign investment.


This Communications followed on from the 7th EU-Russia Summit on 17 May 2001 during which the partners confirmed their desire to strengthen their strategic cooperation.

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2006/890/Euratom of 4 December 2006 concerning the conclusion on behalf of the European Atomic Energy Community of a Framework Agreement on a Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation and of the Protocol on Claims, Legal Proceedings and Indemnification to the Framework Agreement on a Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation (notified under document number C(2006) 5219).