Why it matters
Environmental Action Programmes (EAP) set out the broad direction and structure of EU environmental policy. They aim to put in place the enabling conditions to guarantee that environmental policy can achieve its objectives and are legally binding.
In 2019, the European Commission came forward with its European Green Deal, acknowledging the need to address the most pressing environmental problems that the EU and world are faced with. The proposal by the Commission for an 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) aims to build on the European Green Deal as it tries to set out the direction for EU environmental and climate policy action until 2030.
What WWF is calling for
With the 8th EAP, the opportunity must be seized to put forward a strategy all the way up to 2030 that supports the EU in meeting its domestic and international environmental commitments, whilst ensuring prosperity and wellbeing for all. For this, it must go beyond simply repeating the existing commitments and actions under the European Green Deal which are limited only to the mandate of the von der Leyen Commission (end 2024). Instead, the EU must:
- Shift to a sustainable Wellbeing Economy by putting in place ‘Beyond GDP’ indicators: Having a streamlined set of indicators going beyond GDP which give direction for EU action would be similar to how countries such as New-Zealand, Iceland or Finland already have performance frameworks in place which prioritize the health and wellbeing of people and nature.
- Phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, and all other environmentally harmful subsidies by 2027 at the latest, based on a common methodology and annual reporting: According to Commission research, fossil fuel subsidies in the EU amounted to 50 billion euros in 2018 alone, with no significant reduction in sight.
- Strengthen the 8th EAP’s enabling conditions and environmental governance: This includes the swift and full implementation of environmental law, systematic consistency checks of all EU policies and measures with the objectives of the 8th EAP, taking into account the cost of inaction, as well as improvements to the ‘Better Regulation’ guidelines and toolbox to guarantee transparent, inclusive and informed decision making.
- Regularly assessing progress and reorienting and introducing new actions as required, via annual reports to be discussed as part of the annual EU programming cycle as well as a comprehensive mid-term review.
In December 2021, the European institutions agreed to strengthen the 8th EAP, but missed a critical opportunity to set an end date for public finance for fossil fuels and environmentally harmful activities and the law was formally adopted by the Parliament and Council in March 2022.
WWF now urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal for a legally binding deadline for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies without delay.