Future Directions for EU Environmental Policy

The BES this afternoon attended the Annual Lunch Reception of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group at the Houses of Parliament. The purpose of the reception was to facilitate networking between the disparate members of the group: from Learned Societies and environmental NGOs to the buildings and aggregates sectors. The reception also saw the launch of a report commissioned by the APPEG: ‘The future of EU environmental policy: challenges and opportunities’. The report had been prepared for the Group by the Institute of European Environmental Policy: the Institute’s Director, David Baldock, delivered a speech following lunch.

Outlining the contents of the report, David Baldock stressed the influence of the EU on the UK’s environmental legislation: around 80% of UK environmental policy is actually made in Europe. Over the next few years, climate change will pose a major challenge for the EU, which has demonstrated international leadership with respect to stringent targets to reduce emissions and continues to work hard to influence behind-the-scenes negotiations in the run-up to Copenhagen in December. Implementing the measures needed to meet the targets will be difficult however.

MEPs have not only to tackle policy areas such as climate change, CAP reform, waste, water and energy but within the next parliament also have to make major decisions about the strategic direction of the European Union. Should the EU Sustainable Development Strategy be incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty – a commitment to enhance the jobs available in and competitiveness of the EU internationally – or will this water down the Sustainable Development Strategy’s own impact?

During the question and answer session a member of the Group raised the importance of pollinators to food security, health and well-being in Europe: were policy-makers aware of this issue? David Baldock said that yes, this issue is being considered at a European level, although how to tackle pollinator declines tends to be national policy. Pollination was being considered as part of the wider ecosystem services agenda, which David Baldock felt would grow in prominence in European policy-making with the passage of time. The IEEP is currently drafting a report on the connection between public money and public goods: something which can inform discussions on ecosystem service valuation currently ongoing in Brussels.

Overall this was a useful event and a good opportunity for the BES to engage with the industrial sector. The report provides a very useful overview of the main challenges facing European policy-makers: a helpful aide as the BES works with the European Ecological Federation in engaging with the European Commission and with the Natural Capital Initiative to influence an ecosystem approach to policy-making. To order a copy of the report, contact the APPEG Secretariat.