Tag Archives: Protocol

Tackling climate change

Tackling climate change

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Tackling climate change


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

Environment > Tackling climate change

Tackling climate change

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing mankind in the coming years. Rising temperatures, melting glaciers and increasingly frequent droughts and flooding are all evidence that climate change is really happening. The risks for the whole planet and for future generations are colossal and we need to take urgent action.
For several years now the European Union has been committed to tackling climate change both internally and internationally and has placed it high on the EU agenda, as reflected in European climate change policy. Indeed, the EU is taking action to curb greenhouse gas emissions in all its areas of activity in a bid to achieve the following objectives: consuming less-polluting energy more efficiently, creating cleaner and more balanced transport options, making companies more environmentally responsible without compromising their competitiveness, ensuring environmentally friendly land-use planning and agriculture and creating conditions conducive to research and innovation.


A realistic long-term policy framework
Following on from work under the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), the European Union has come up with a realistic climate change strategy, advocating practical action to prevent temperatures from increasing to more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

  • Strategy on climate change: foundations of the strategy
  • Strategy on climate change for 2020 and beyond
  • Launching the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP)

Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as priority objective
Reducing greenhouse gases is a key component of European action. The EU has a monitoring mechanism in place to keep regular track of emissions and the absorption of these gases. With a view to gradually reducing emissions the EU has also established a system based on market rules, a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme and specific rules on fluorinated greenhouse gases.

  • Reducing greenhouse gases by 2020
  • Greenhouse gas: reducing emissions by 20 % or more by 2020
  • Mechanism for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme
  • Reduction in fluorinated greenhouse gases

Monitoring and adapting to the inevitable consequences of climate change
We are already feeling the effects of climate change. The extent of these effects can be measured thanks to the GMES monitoring system, while a number of European measures provide for an emergency response. These include, in particular, the Community Civil Protection Mechanism and specific measures concerning floods and droughts. In 2007, the Commission adopted a Green Paper on adapting to climate change in Europe.

  • European Earth monitoring programme (GMES)
  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • Civil Protection Mechanism
  • Flood management and evaluation
  • Combating deforestation
  • Fight against illegal logging

The Kyoto Protocol and the EU’s commitment in international negotiations
In the international arena, the EU is at the very forefront of the fight against climate change and takes an active part in negotiations on the subject. The EU signed up in 1998 to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which deals with six greenhouse gases. Moreover, to help developing countries meet the challenge of climate change, the EU has adopted a strategy on climate change in the context of development cooperation.

  • Kyoto Protocol on climate change
  • Implementing the Kyoto Protocol
  • Global climate change alliance
  • Climate change in the context of development cooperation


Focusing the energy market on security and sustainability of supply
With a package of measures adopted in 2007, the EU laid the foundations for a genuine common energy policy. This series of measures also focuses the energy market more on sustainability, particularly by means of tax measures.

  • An Energy Policy for Europe
  • Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity
  • Sustainable power generation from fossil fuels
  • Demonstration of the capture and storage of CO2

Controlling and rationalising energy consumption thanks to energy efficiency
The EU has launched a large-scale consultation based on a Green Paper and has adopted an Action Plan for 2007-2010 to make energy efficiency and energy saving a key component of European energy policy. It has also adopted specific measures, in particular on energy efficiency and the labelling of energy-using products.

  • Energy efficiency for the 2020 goal
  • Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (2007-12)
  • Green Paper on energy efficiency
  • Towards a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan

Making renewable energy a genuine and affordable alternative
A total of 20% of European energy consumption to be met from renewable sources by 2020: this is the target the EU set itself in 2007. To achieve this objective the EU has adopted measures aimed at promoting renewable energy sources and developing the markets in the biomass and biofuel sectors, among others.

  • Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
  • Renewable Energy Road Map
  • Biomass Action Plan
  • EU strategy for biofuels


Achieving transport policy objectives
The ambitious revitalisation of EU transport policy, through the White Paper adopted in 2001, will make a significant contribution towards reducing the impact of transport on climate change. Achieving this objective will require, in particular, better management of freight transport and the harnessing of technology.

  • Freight transport logistics in Europe
  • White paper: European transport policy for 2010

Reconciling road and air transport with the environment
The EU has adopted a wide range of measures to reduce the impact of road and air transport, including measures reducing levels of polluting emissions, traffic management measures and tax measures.

  • Taxation of heavy goods vehicles: Eurovignette Directive
  • Passenger car related taxes
  • Aviation and climate change
  • Framework for creation of the Single European Sky (SES)
  • Single European Sky II
  • Clean Sky
  • Internalisation of external transport costs

Promoting transport by rail and waterways and intermodality
To improve the balance between transport modes and to promote less polluting means of transport, the EU supports the development of measures to promote rail, maritime and waterway transport and to join up different modes of transport (intermodality).

  • White Paper: A strategy for revitalising the Community’s railways
  • Promotion of inland waterway transport “NAIADES”
  • Programme for the promotion of short sea shipping
  • Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships
  • The Marco Polo II programme
  • Maritime Policy Green Paper

Companies are obliged to take into consideration – and reduce – the impact of their activities on the environment (according to the “polluter pays” principle). A number of environmental management instruments are available to assist them in this.

  • Environmental liability

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by proper land and land-use management, including, among other things, carbon storage and the promotion of low-emission activities.

  • Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage
  • Thematic strategy for soil protection
  • Landfill of waste
  • Production and labelling of organic products

The EU has set up a raft of direct and indirect financial assistance packages, particularly to support innovative projects and technological development.

  • SET-Plan for the development of low carbon technologies
  • Seventh Framework Programme (2007 to 2013)
  • Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013)
  • Action plan in favour of environmental technologies
  • Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan)

New European commitment for services of general interest

New European commitment for services of general interest

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about New European commitment for services of general interest


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

Internal market > Single market for services

New European commitment for services of general interest

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 20 November 2007, accompanying the Communication on “A single market for 21st century Europe” – Services of general interest, including social services of general interest: a new European commitment [COM(2007) 725 final – not published in the Official Journal].


The Commission identifies the essential principles which may be applied to Services of General Interest (SGIs) (FR) throughout the whole European Union (EU). This Communication constitutes a reference framework for the governance of, and compliance with, the specificities of SGIs. This is the case before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and its Protocol on Services of General Interest.

Diversity of the Services of General Interest

SGIs are subject to public service obligations. It is for the public authorities at national, regional or local level to decide the nature and scope of the SGIs. Public authorities can provide these services themselves or they can entrust the responsibility of providing them to public or private entities.

For its part, the EU retains shared responsibility which enables it to regulate and define the conditions for the operation of SGIs with a European dimension.

The SGIs are divided into two categories and are governed by different European rules:

  • services of general economic interest (SGEIs), which are provided for remuneration, are subject to European internal market and competition rules. However, derogations to these rules may be authorised in order to ensure that the general interest is respected. Certain SGIs have a European dimension, specifically the large network industries (postal services, telecommunications, transport services and the supply of electricity and gas) and are regulated by specific European rules. In addition, European rules relating to public procurement, environmental protection and consumer protection may be applied to them;
  • non-economic services, such as police, justice and statutory social security schemes, are not subject to specific European legislation, nor to the internal market and competition rules.

In practice, the operation of these services often differs from one Member State to another. Furthermore, the distinction between economic and non-economic services requires case-by-case analysis of each activity.

Social services of general interest

The way in which Social Services of General Interest (SSGIs) are provided is generally personalised in order to meet the needs of vulnerable users, and is based on the principle of solidarity and equal access.

They may be of an economic or non-economic nature, including in the case of non-profit making organisations. The definition of economic activity depends essentially on the way in which the activity is provided, organised and financed, and not on the legal status of the service provider.

They are mainly:

  • statutory and complementary social security schemes, covering the main risks of life (health, ageing, occupational accidents, unemployment, retirement and disability);
  • other services provided directly to the person such as social assistance services, employment and training services, social housing or long-term care.

Modernising the European rules

The Commission commits to adopting a series of actions based on the Protocol on Services of General Interest annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon. These actions shall enable the European regulatory framework applicable to SGIs to be consolidated. The actions are based on the following objectives:

  • improving access to information and developing communication tools, such as the creation of an interactive information service or a single market assistance service;
  • adopting sectoral policies, specifically in the fields of energy, transport, e-communication, and postal, social and health services;
  • monitoring actions to guarantee quality, transparency and good progress.


This Communication follows on from the 2004 Commission White Paper and the 2006 opinion of the Parliament which contributed to the debate and converging views on the role and approach of the EU with regard to SGIs. It also draws on the results of the public consultation on social services of general interest initiated in 2006.

Related Acts

Commission Staff Working Document – Guide to the application of the European Union rules on state aid, public procurement and the internal market to services of general economic interest, and in particular to social services of general interest [SEC(2010) 1545final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission publishes a guide aimed at clarifying the European rules applicable to Services of General Interest and to Social Services of General Interest. The Commission specifies the rules relating to the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services in the internal market, to competition, to the Service Directive, to State aid, to public procurement and to the service concessions of public authorities.