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Europe at the crossroads: the challenge for future environmental sustainability

Speaking at the European Environment Bureau 40th anniversary event on the 1st December the new European Commissioner for the Environment and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, sought to reassure the environmental NGOs that the Juncker strategy would not marginalise the environment agenda in pursuit of short term competitiveness.  Veila underlined that we do have a roadmap in the form of the 7th Environmental Action Programme: - "live well, within the planet's ecological limits". He underlined that this tells us exactly what to do and how to do it from now up to 2020 in order to achieve a sustainable economy.- strengthen the smart and sustainable pillars of the EU2020 Strategy.  As part of his initial tasks, he would be contributing the to the new Commission’s reflection on the EU 2020 strategy within the College of Commissioners.  He is determined to see the resource-efficiency agenda continue working on the circular economy.  The new Commission will not be choosing between economic growth and environmental protection. The Biodiversity Strategy targets for 2020 are key and the Commissioner confirmed that his team is working on a mid-term assessment to take stock of where we stand in terms of reaching our targets.  Compliance is also a major issue, Air Quality, the Water Blueprint, and REACH. – there are worrying trends in implementation and a few member states where it is  hardly present at all. He confirmed that the Commission will help by identifying implementation problems and providing support but will not hesitate in penalising those who intentionally fail to live up to their obligations. Lack of implementation leads to non-performance and to missing out on economic opportunities.  - 400,000 jobs would have been created with full implementation. However the new Commission is acutely aware that whilst Regulation can create jobs, layer upon layer of environmental legislation could be economically unproductive. A series of fitness checks have been launched to look at excessive burdens, overlaps, gaps, inconsistent or obsolete measures, and correct them. Fitness checks on water and waste have already been completed by the previous Commission and the Commissioner confirmed that he would be launching a review of nature legislation to increase environmental standards whilst reducing the administrative burdens. READ MORE / WATCH VIDEO

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Issue 38