Today’s ENVE Commission of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted the draft opinion of Cor Lamers, Mayor of Schiedam (EPP/NL), calling for a new approach for the European Union’s 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) post-2020.

The European Commission will publish a mid-term evaluation of the current, 7th EAP in spring 2019 and will start discussions on a possible 8th EAP in 2019. The CoR is the first EU body to give an opinion on the future of this overarching European environmental strategy.

In his draft opinion, rapporteur Lamers calls for a more strategic 8th EAP, which should focus on transitions, innovation, more effective implementation of the current legislation, wider global challenges and better communication. This requires an integrated approach, which reconciles environmental and economic objectives and puts environmental policies at the heart of all other policies, the rapporteur believes.

The current environmental, climate and transition challenges necessitate significant investments in green and blue infrastructure and in innovation. The rapporteur welcomes the proposed priority areas of the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), but would like to see over 30% of the budget reserved for climate policy mainstreaming.

Lamers’ draft report proposes that the focus of the next EAP should be on “Healthy living for all”: human health, a healthy planet, healthy economy and healthy society. He advocates for a holistic place-based or area-oriented approach for the Programme, in line with multi-level governance, to support Europe’s cities and regions in implementing the environmental objectives with solutions that are fit for purpose on the ground.

Finally, the EAP should incorporate the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in order to integrate the global climate and sustainability framework in EU’s environmental policies. The draft report calls on regions and cities to forge close links with civil society, the private sector and knowledge institutes, in and beyond their territories, and to support interregional cooperation in these areas, as such long-term partnerships will contribute to good policy-making.

The draft opinion is scheduled for adoption at the CoR’s Plenary Session in February 2019.

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