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The EAP 6th programme

The prospect of progress in sustainable development under the EU 6th Community Programme

Malcolm Sutherland (0204783)

Original report submitted in March 2003 in fulfilment of the requirements for the module in Environmental Policy and Regulation (LA532), the University of Abertay Dundee Revised May 2013


Introduction to the 6th Programme What is Sustainable Development? Measuring Sustainability The 5th Environmental Action Programme How is the 6th EAP taking Sustainable Development further? Some conclusions

ABBREVIATIONS EAP EMAS ICM NOx SD SMEs SOx UWTD VOCs Environmental Action Programme Eco-Management (and) Audit System Integrated Coastal Management Nitrous oxides Sustainable Development Small/Medium Enterprises Sulphurous oxides Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive Volatile Organic Compounds

Author’s revised note: the original electronic files were lost in 2006. A printout of the report was retrieved, but this did not contain the references. This report should not be cited without reference to other literature which has been referenced and reviewed. Consequently, this file is free of charge, and there are no restrictions on its distribution.

The EU Community Programmes have all coincided with global environmental summits and treaties; these initially addressed the direct mitigation and control of pollution, although in recent years, attention has been drawn to the long-term approach of sustainable development. The fifth and sixth programmes have embraced this principle, in connection with Agenda 21 and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, respectively. Environmental issues include climate change, biodiversity, environmental health, waste minimisation, and the sustainable use of natural resources- The focus is not merely on tackling pollution, but on progressing towards a symbiotic interaction between people and the environment- without compromising peoples' needs. The means of achieving this progress are proposed through 5 strategies: (1) adoption of all existing environmental legislation; (2) consideration for the environment in all policy areas; (3) communicating with businesses and consumers; (4) improve access to information; and, (5) develop environmental awareness in land-use development. Overall, this programme is designed to be more practical and tactful than its predecessor.

In its simplest context, sustainable development is defined as the provision of peoples' needs today, without compromising those of future generations. This essentially requires a balance between environmental improvement and economic development. Translating this broad vision into environmental policies and actions has baffled scientists, politicians, and stakeholders for over a decade. It is not to be confused with sustainable growth, where profits, the standard of life and that of the environment must continually improve (Bell & Morse, p11). Such a vision is unrealistic, as reckless economic growth often occurs at the expense of the environment, and the needs of people living elsewhere. Instead, article 2 of the Maastricht Treaty calls for "non-inflationary economic growth respecting the environment". The Progress Report of the 5th EAP states that sustainable development "will only occur when..." it " seen as the only model for economic development..." and " fully accepted by every citizen". Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, it is recognised that governments alone cannot achieve sustainability through legislation alone. The attitudes of business and individuals must change drastically. In addition, the economic differences between developed and developing countries have to be properly addressed. More importantly, the public have to contribute towards such a scheme. Sparse evidence of such changes has occurred in the UK alone so far.

A European View of Sustainable Development To date, some EU member countries have undertaken the initiative to promote sustainability, through active participation of national and local authorities, companies, NGOs and citizens, in sharing information and making positive efforts (e.g. recycling schemes, environmental technology). This reflects the Model of Sustainability, where everyone in each sector is included:

Figure 1: the Sustainability model, where legislation, participation and the use of indicators are used

The 5th EAP programme (“Towards Sustainability”) prescribes a list of objectives against five key indicators (Table 1). The United Nations Working List of Sustainable Development Indicators list covers a wider spectrum than that of the 5th EAP (Table 2).

Overall, the first 5 EAP programmes provided Europe with a detailed list of environmental limits, policies and targets. Through these, significant improvements to local air, water, and soil quality have been achieved, and many issues relating to direct sources and effects of pollution have been addressed. Nevertheless, after nearly 30 years of environmental legislation in the EU, some member states still fail to implement the environmental directives, which they have signed up to under the European Commission. (Jackson, MEP, 2000.)

Table 1: the 5 EAP programme key indicators and objectives


Table 2: UN sustainable development indicators

In the European Union alone, progress towards SD has been limited. The main threats to SD include: (1) the accelerated production of greenhouse gases; (2) serious threats to public health due to hazardous chemicals (especially in food), and resistant diseases;

(3) a sixth of the population living in poverty (which persists through family generations and contributes to poor health and consumer behaviour); (4) the consistent aging of the population (putting the sustainability of pension schemes at risk); (5) dramatic losses in biodiversity in recent years, especially with fish stocks; and, (6) transport congestion, blighting most urban regions. Attempts have been made by governments and local communities to address these issues. However, some environmental legislation has been over-optimistic, or has demanded improvements, which entail excessively high costs for some member states, and are inevitably ignored. Also, new environmental issues such as biotechnology, waste disposal and educating the public, take priority in the 6th EAP. The previous programme included three main objectives: (1) Strategies for 7 environmental priority issues:
a. Climate change b. Acidification and air quality c. Biodiversity d. Water Pollution e. Urbanisation f. Coastal zone management g. Waste management

(2) Target employment sectors, in order to integrate environmental policy into their activities. (3) Broaden the range of methods used to implement, environmental policy. Figure 2 over-page summarises the objectives, directives and targets of the 5th EAP (Towards Sustainability. No.138/25). Although some measurable environmental targets were proposed, most were nonquantifiable, and as a result, the practical progress towards SD has been rather limited. The main weaknesses have been weak enforcement of environmental legislation into economic policies, and a general apathy in allowing stakeholders to participate and be educated in progressing towards SD. Speaking of apathy, strategies 1 (a to c) have not been examined further. 1(d) Water Pollution The last decade witnessed considerable improvement in water quality, although this was mainly as a result of the UWTD. Several formerly polluted rivers have achieved satisfactory status. However, there has been limited success in implementing the Nitrates Directive, and levels of pesticides in groundwater supplies still exceed mandatory limits in many areas.

Figure 2: the directive, objectives and targets of the 5 EAP


Nevertheless, the IPPC Directive was passed in 1996; this seeks to control or eliminate polluting discharges from all industrial sites. The 6'11 EAP takes the mitigation of water pollution further, as it requires the development of a risk management system for assessing the potential toxicity of all chemicals (Article 6, pr2), and ratification of the Rotterdam Convention on pesticides (Article 6, pr 3). It also requires phasing out the discharge of all hazardous substance discharges to water, and a revision of the Bathing Water Directive (Article 6, pr 4). It also recommends an overall reduction in the use of pesticides. (Article 2, pr 4.) 1(e) Urbanisation As over 70% of the HU population lives in urban areas, over 30% is exposed to high levels of noise, air pollution, and contributes to the growing urban municipal waste. Energy consumption and increasing land use are two other problems- This issue was covered by the 5th EAP, although no monitoring mechanisms or targets were stated. Some of the articles under ihe 6th EAP address these issues separately, although there are none, which address urbanisation as a whole. 1(f) Coastal Zone Management Following the 5 EAP, the EU undertook an integrated coastal zone management demonstration programme, in order to educate member states, on mitigating the many

pressures facing coastal environments, including urbanisation, industry, tourism and transport. No actual coastal zone policy has been implemented as yet. The 6th EAP requires each state to promote forest management schemes, and the incorporation of environmental policy into marine environment and fisheries protection (Article 4, pr 5-7.) It also encourages both land, and coastal zone management schemes, through funding and supporting ICM programmes. 1(g) Waste Management The Landfill Directive hiis been fully implemented in the UK; nevertheless, in both the UK and the rest of ihe EU, waste production continues to risc, and consumption patterns only encourage this. The Packaging Directive has resulted in some progress in recycling; there are also some initiatives in recycling, incinerating or re-using waste materials. Overall, little progress in reducing total waste being sent to landfill has been achieved. The 6th EAP therefore requires a thematic strategy on waste recycling, including collection schemes, and isolating priority waste streams. (Article 7, pr 6.) It encourages waste prevention and recycling initiatives, and a drive towards more sustainable consumer behaviour. (Article 2, pr 6.) (2) Targeting Employment Sectors The 5th programme enforced some legislation upon industries, such as the Air Quality, the Habitats, and ihe IPPC directives. These do not simply enforce strict limits on emissions or activities, but also allow for consultation with stakeholders, and give adequate time to reduce pollution, without damaging industry. This is one of the most successful aspects of the 5th EAP, although it provides the opportunity to curb legislation. As a result, the adoption of Community law has been found wanting in many member states. The full compliance by member states must be reached, before the EU can progress further towards SD. In order 10 help companies afford such improvements, the 6th EAP requires an environmental compliance assistance programme for SMEs to he established. (Article 3, pr 4.) Enforce controls on the monitoring, labelling and tracing of genetically modified crops (Article 5, pr 8.) It also promotes sustainable business practises, and the removal of subsidies encouraging the over-use of finite resources. (Article 7, pr 1.) It considers using legislation, which demands that companies present an environmental review of their activities, and that they make such information public. (Article 3, pr 6.) Wider uptake of the EMAS scheme (Article 3, pr 3.), and the provision of reward schemes for innovative companies are also encouraged. (Article 3, pr 4.) The 6th EAP also prescribes other methods of tackling apathy in implementing environmental policy, such as (i) support towards BATNEEC through the IMPEL network, (ii)

improved standards of litigation and inspections in member states (Article 3, pr 1), and (iii) continued application of the Polluter-Pays principle (Article 3,pr3.).

Social Sustainability - has this been ignored? The Sustainable Europe Research Institute state, that the integration of environmental politics into the latest EL) forums and programmes on SD (e.g. the Gothenburg, Cardiff and Lisbon strategies), has driven attention away from the social and employment issues. None of the articles under the 6 EAP describe provisions for sustaining employment, except the financial incentives for SMEs, and the encouragement of emissions trading. However, it does promote the implementation and revision of environmental policies, through consultation with interested/affected stakeholders. Article 8 of the Aarhus Convention (agreed upon by member slates) (6'1' EAP document, p20) encourages public participation in the preparation of new regulations wherever appropriate. A more active programme It is encouraging though that the 6 EAP does enforce some laws, and requires all member states to adopt existing legislation. This is in response to the varying approaches by present member slates to implement policies from the previous EAPs. It takes the involvement of the public, and the provision of information more seriously, which fulfils the need to educate and involve everyone in meeting both their own needs, and those of the environment at large. It does not intend to be over-optimistic either, and it is not designed to pressurise companies to comply with strict laws beyond their capabilities. In conclusion, it appears that the 6th Environmental Action Programme will contribute to further progress towards sustainability, with a stronger and more strategic approach on environmental improvement, in comparison to the 5th EAP.