Priority 1 - A European Green Deal

Priority One
© European Commission, 2021

Clean Energy

Sustainable Industry

Building and Renovating

Sustainable Mobility

Biodiversity

From Farm to Fork

Eliminating Pollution

European Commission Work Programme 2024

Wind Power Package

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Non-legislative Act: On the 24th of October 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on European Wind Power Action Plan (press release).

Problem: The European wind industry, crucial for meeting the EU's decarbonisation objectives and energy security, is currently facing substantial challenges. Despite the abundant availability and security of wind energy, significant operational losses have been reported by major wind turbine manufacturers in recent years. This has resulted in a shortfall in the installation of new wind projects, falling far behind the annual targets necessary for cost-effectively achieving the EU 2030 renewable energy goals. Furthermore, recent global events, notably Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have highlighted the risks associated with an over-reliance on foreign fossil fuel suppliers, underlining the importance of renewable energy sources like wind for energy stability and security. These issues, combined with the fast-paced green and digital transition globally, necessitate urgent action to ensure the health and competitiveness of the EU wind industry.

Objective: The Wind Power Action Plan aims to bolster the EU wind sector and enhance its competitiveness, ensuring its continued pivotal role in the green transition. This plan addresses the immediate need for a robust and sustainable wind energy supply chain and seeks to create a clear and secure project pipeline to attract necessary financing and ensure global competitiveness. The plan outlines six key pillars of action: acceleration of deployment through increased predictability and faster permitting, improved auction design, access to finance, creating a fair and competitive international environment, skills development, and industry engagement along with Member State commitments. These measures are intended not only to support the wind industry, but also to indirectly benefit other renewable energy sectors, such as the solar industry.

Subject Matter: At its core, the Communication underscores the importance of accelerating the deployment of renewable energy, with a particular emphasis on wind power. To achieve this, several measures are proposed. Firstly, the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) mandates a minimum binding target of 42.5 per cent share of renewables by 2030, with an aspiration to reach 45 per cent. This directive is a pivotal step towards rapid acceleration in renewable energy deployment. Furthermore, an emergency regulation has been implemented to simplify and shorten permitting procedures for renewables, including wind power, which has been in force since late 2022. Another significant measure is the simplification of permitting procedures for transporting wind turbine components, which currently require multiple authorisations even within the same member state. The Commission has also taken steps to address this issue, aiming to streamline these processes. The document also highlights the Electricity Market Design (EMD) reform proposal. This proposal is designed to provide stable investment signals to renewable energy investments by promoting long-term contracting via contracts for difference and power purchase agreements. It also lays down rules for creating a more flexible power system to integrate variable renewable energy sources such as wind. Additionally, the Commission has supported the resilience of the wind manufacturing sector through the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), and the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA). Moreover, the Commission proposed the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (‘STEP’) to support investment in critical and emerging technologies relevant to the green and digital transition. This platform is expected to direct both existing and additional EU funding towards technology fields crucial for Europe’s leadership, particularly in clean technology manufacturing. Finally, the document outlines the Commission's support for the creation of the Large Scale Partnership on Skills. This partnership, driven by stakeholders, aims to gather information on skills needs in the renewable energy sector, contribute to the provision of appropriate skills, and provide guidance and recommendations to public authorities.

2040 Climate Target

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Non-legislative, Q1 2024.

Water Resilience

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Non-legislative, Q1 2024.

European Commission Work Programme 2023

Green Deal Industrial Plan

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Non-legislative Act: On the 1st of February 2023 the European Commission published a Communication on a Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age (press release).

Problem: Due to the rapid growth of the net-zero industry globally, the market for key mass-manufactured clean energy technologies is expected to triple in worth by 2030. Many actors and partners of the EU have laid out initiatives to shift to a carbon-free industry, which may have undesired collateral effects on the Union’s net-zero industry by distorting the markets through subsidies.

Objective: In light of the massive investments in clean technology, especially by China and the US’ recent Inflation Reduction Act, the EU needs a common response to ensure the competitiveness of its own net-zero industry, as measures anchored in EU policies and instruments will be more effective than the addition of individual approaches of the member states. This Communication therefore aims to outline an Industrial Plan in the transition to the net-zero industrial age on a Union level as part of the European Green Deal.

Subject Matter: The Green Deal Industrial Plan is based on four pillars. Firstly, to ensure a predictable, coherent and simplified regulatory environment, the Commission will put forward a Net-Zero Industry Act and a Critical Raw Materials Act to underpin industrial manufacturing of key technologies and a stable, diversified access to relevant critical raw materials. It is intended to provide a simplified regulatory framework for the production of products which are key to achieve climate neutrality goals, in order to elaborate and meet the needs of production for 2030, foster innovation and further stimulate the demand of the net-zero products. Additionally, the Commission will present a reform of the electricity market design, to improve the security of energy supply and strategic independence from third countries. Moreover, the industrial infrastructure needs to be adapted to the net-zero economy. The Commission thus urges co-legislators to adopt the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) and develop and strengthen hydrogen and electricity infrastructure. Secondly, the Industrial Plan seeks to extend and accelerate the access to funding for the Union’s net-zero industry. To this end, the Commission shall further facilitate the mobilisation of Cohesion investments in support of the net-zero industry and increase investment in the manufacturing capacity. This shall be achieved both on the side of national state aid through amendments to the Crisis and Transition Framework (TCTF) and on the side of EU funding though the instruments of EUPowerEU, the InvestEU Programme and the Innovation Fund. Besides targeted public funding, private funding is seen as key to this pillar to mobilise investments for the net-zero industry to counter the subsidies abroad which have posed challenges to the EU industry’s market shares. The Union shall thus intensify its efforts to create a fully developed Capital Markets Union (CMU). The third pillar is concerned with enhancing skilled labour. The rapid changes in the labour market through the green transition requires special attentiveness to the inclusiveness of women and youth. Besides existing frameworks and initiatives, such as the European Skills Agenda and the European Pact for Skills, the Commission, and member states shall increase efforts in fostering the education and attraction of talents in relevant sectors for the net-zero industry, with special focus on the STEM-sector. In line with the European Year of Skills 2023, the Commission may put forward a proposal to establish Net-Zero Academies, implement the European strategy for universities and increase efforts to open new pathways for international STEM students and researchers to come to Europe. The last pillar aims to strengthen global cooperation and promote trade for the clean transition, reflecting the EU’s drive towards Open Strategic Autonomy. To this end, the Net-Zero Industrial plan puts emphasis on the functioning of the Single Market and global cooperation with strategic partners through institutions like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Free Trade Agreements. Therefore, a number of new initiatives shall be developed, such as the establishment of a Critical Raw Materials Club as well as Clean Tech/Net-zero Industrial Partnerships with like-minded partners.

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Proposal: On the 16th of March 2023 the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework of measures for strengthening Europe’s net-zero technology products manufacturing ecosystem (Net Zero Industry Act) (press release).

Problem: In the light of recent significant investments into Net-Zero technologies by economic competitors of the EU, such as the USA and China, the global market from key mass-manufactured Net-Zero technologies is set to triple by 2030. Currently being a net importer of net-zero energy technologies, the EU is thus at risk to lose security of energy supply and competitiveness on global markets with regards to these key technologies.

Objective: The Net-Zero Industry Act hence aims to simplify the regulatory framework and improve the investment environment for the Union’s key manufacturing capacity of technologies for climate neutrality, to ensure the resilience and competitiveness of the EU’s decarbonised energy system. It is in line with the overlaying objective of the Green Deal Industrial Plan of 2023, which is to ensure that the manufacturing capacity in the Union of strategic net-zero technologies reaches at least 40 per cent of the Union’s annual deployment needs by 2030.

Subject Matter: The Proposal follows multiple key objectives. Firstly, the Net-Zero Industry Act shall enable conditions for net-zero technology manufacturing. To this end, permitting processes for net-zero technology manufacturing projects shall be streamlined by setting up national competent authorities and detailed timelines for permitting procedures. Furthermore, the Proposal sets up detailed criteria regarding the selection and implementation of net-zero strategic projects, which will be given priority status in permission processes. Therefore, the contribution to the technological and industrial resilience of the Union’s energy systems and to the competitiveness of the net-zero industry supply chain shall be considered in the permission processes. Member states shall additionally undertake activities to accelerate private investments and implementation of these projects. Secondly, the Proposal sets a Union-level objective for an annual injection capacity in CO2 storage of 50 Mt that shall be achieved by 2030. A key measure to achieve this objective is the establishment of a Union single market for CO2 storage services. For this purpose, data collection shall be increased in numerous areas, including geological data relating to oil and gas production sites and information on CO2 capture projects. Thirdly, the Proposal includes measures which are designed to accelerate access to markets for net-zero technologies. Therefore, public authorities shall be supported in creating a stable public demand for economically attractive net-zero technologies. This mainly relates to public procurement procedures and auctions to deploy renewable energy sources, in which public authorities are now required to take sustainability and resilience into account. Fourthly, skills and quality job creation in net-zero technologies shall be enhanced, to counter the current skills shortages and their projected rise. This shall be achieved by setting up specialised European skills Academies focussed on respective net-zero technologies, in close exchange with member states, education and training providers, industry and social partners. Fifthly, Net-zero regulatory sandboxes shall be set up to foster innovation. Lastly, with regards to effective governance, the Net-Zero Europe Platform shall be set up. It shall enable the Commission to coordinate the proposed actions of this Act with member states. Moreover, the Platform is intended to exchange information between member states, incorporate input from third parties and streamline administrative procedures.

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Non-legislative Act: On the 20th of October 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on the revision of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan (press release).

Problem: There is the need for decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries and reduction of pollution as outlined in the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU Plan. Moreover, the need for a more autonomous and resilient EU industry, as emphasised by the Net-Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Materials Act, is highlighted, stressing the importance of securing critical raw materials and developing EU capacity to manufacture strategic net-zero technologies.

Objective: The aim of the SET Plan revision is to align with the new policy context and strategic objectives for the clean energy transition. It emphasises the need to enhance the resilience, autonomy, and competitiveness of the European energy system and its supply chains. The revision also focuses on circular and human-centred solutions within planetary boundaries. The revised SET Plan also aims to encourage member states to set an indicative target for innovative renewable energy technology, contributing to the larger goal of a green and digital transition across the EU.

Subject Matter: Key components include setting a target of 50 million tonnes of annual CO2 storage capacity by 2030 and increasing the EU’s capacity for manufacturing strategic net-zero technologies to meet at least 40 per cent of the EU’s annual deployment needs for these technologies by 2030. The SET Plan operates through 14 Implementation Working Groups (IWGs) and related European Technology and Innovation Platforms (ETIPs). These groups focus on six priorities within the Research Innovation and Competitiveness dimension of the Energy Union. The SET Plan coordinates and collaborates in clean energy research and innovation, bringing together European industry, academia, and governments. The Communication reviews the achievements of the SET Plan and sets new directions for future activities. These include the development of clean, efficient, and cost-competitive energy technologies, with a focus on integrating renewable technologies into energy systems, reducing the costs of these technologies, and addressing the challenges posed by the increasing digitalisation of the economy. Under the priority of becoming world number one in renewables, the SET Plan has implemented actions on integrating renewable technologies and reducing their costs. This has been achieved through working groups on specific renewable energy technologies such as offshore wind energy, solar photovoltaic (PV), deep geothermal energy, ocean energy, and concentrated solar thermal. The Plan has also contributed to the development of smart consumer-centric energy systems, focusing on new technologies and services for consumers, and the resilience and security of energy systems. The SET Plan has developed priorities in energy-efficient systems, focusing on new materials and technologies for buildings, and energy efficiency for industry. There have also been advancements in diversifying and strengthening energy options for sustainable transport, such as enhancing EU competitiveness in the global battery sector and developing renewable fuels and bioenergy. Another area of focus is carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS), where the SET Plan has mobilised countries and stakeholders to work on this critical technology, contributing to demonstration and full-scale projects, particularly in the cement industry. The SET Plan also addresses the safety in the use of nuclear energy, focusing on nuclear safety during operation and decommissioning. Digitalisation is highlighted as a key element in the energy transition, improving the performance of the energy system and reducing research and experimentation costs. The Plan supports the principles of circularity and addresses societal needs to ensure a just and fair transition. This includes mainstreaming issues such as health, gender, safety, and affordability into all actions. The SET Plan emphasises the importance of upskilling and reskilling the workforce to meet the labour needs of the new energy and societal model. It calls for increased financial support and collaboration at the national level between SET Plan communities and actors in charge of national energy and climate plans.

Electricity Market

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 14th of December 2023, the Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulations (EU) 2019/943 and (EU) 2019/942 as well as Directives (EU) 2018/2001 and (EU) 2019/944 to improve the Union’s electricity market designwas adopted (press release). The development of an energy system based on renewable energy is now possible, energy costs are reduced and consumers are protected from price peaks. In line with the Green Deal and REPowerEU plan, consumers will be empowered. In crisis situations, regulated end customer prices can be better applied to households. Excess profits are to be passed on to consumers to reduce electricity costs.

Proposal: On the 14th of March 2023 the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulations (EU) 2019/943 and (EU) 2019/942 as well as Directives (EU) 2018/2001 and (EU) 2019/944 to improve the Union’s electricity market design (press release).

Problem: Recent crises have exposed weaknesses in the EU’s electricity market by showing the sensitivity of the electricity price to fossil fuel prices and consequently the vulnerabilities of consumers and industries to the lack of resilience in energy price spikes. The current market design therefore shows shortcomings in various areas, such as consumer protection, disproportionate influence of fossil fuel prices, impact mitigation of extreme price volatility and sufficient non-fossil flexibility.

Objective: To address these issues, the proposal aims to improve the current electricity market design by better protecting consumers from energy price volatility, assigning a greater role to longer-term instruments, increasinge the integration of variable renewable energy into the short-term market and improvinge the access to longer- term contracts for developers. The proposal is thus strongly linked to the European Green Deal Package and the decarbonisation objectives of the REPowerEU Plan.

Subject Matter: The proposed measures of the Regulation can be divided into three main areas: consumer protection; enhancing stability and predictability of the cost of energy; and boosting renewable energy investment. Firstly, to better mitigate the impact of sudden price shocks for consumers, the proposal emphasises the availability of contracts with both dynamic and fixed pricing, so that consumers can choose energy contracts in accordance to their individual needs. Furthermore, the proposal also grants consumers to share renewable energy directly, without the need to create energy communities. Secondly, the stability and predictability of energy cost shall be improved by enhancing market access of more stable longer-term contracts. This shall be achieved by reducing the financial risks of power purchase agreements (PPAs) and incentivising access for companies that face entry barriers to the PPA market. Furthermore, public investment support for energy production shall be restructured as “two-way”, so that any revenues of producers above a certain maximum price are paid back. Additionally, regarding long-term contracts that lock in future prices (“forward contracts”), the proposal will create regional reference prices to ensure transparency and the transmission of electricity between parties across regions or borders. Lastly in this area, the competitiveness of markets shall be better ensured by enhancing regulators’ ability to monitor energy market integrity and transparency. Concerning the third area, long- term energy contracts can also contribute to improved renewable energy investment, by reducing the financial risk and cost of capital for renewable energy suppliers. To reduce technical constraints with regards to the integration of renewable energy into the power system, the proposal requires member states to assess their needs for power system flexibility, and establish objectives accordingly. Moreover, systems operators are given an enhanced role in integrating renewables into the grid.

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Proposal: On the 14th of March 2023 the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulations (EU) No 1227/2011 and (EU) 2019/942 to improve the Union’s protection against market manipulation in the wholesale energy market (press release).

Problem: Recent crises have exposed weaknesses in the EU’s electricity market by showing the sensitivity of the electricity price to fossil fuel prices and consequently the vulnerabilities of consumers and industries to the lack of resilience in energy price spikes. The current market design therefore shows shortcomings in various areas, such as consumer protection, disproportionate influence of fossil fuel prices, impact mitigation of extreme price volatility and sufficient non-fossil flexibility.

Objective: To address these issues, the proposal aims to improve the current electricity market design by better protecting consumers from energy price volatility, assigning a greater role to longer-term instruments, increasing the integration of variable renewable energy into the short-term market and improving the access to longer-term contracts for developers. Whereas the other proposal of the package amends various frameworks of the electricity markets, this proposal specifically regards the Regulation on the wholesale energy market integrity and transparency (REMIT). The two proposals should therefore be read in conjunction.

Subject Matter: Alongside the proposed measures in other areas of the electricity market by the second Proposal of the package, this Proposal shall to increase transparency and monitoring capacities of the REMIT framework specifically. The REMIT framework is intended to enable open and level competition in the internal markets for electricity and gases. Therefore, REMIT shall be better aligned with the financial market legislation in terms of definitions and scope. It shall also address risks stemming from algorithmic trading, that has evolved rapidly in recent years. Moreover, national regulatory authorities should increase exchange of relevant information they receive with national financial and competition authorities. Additionally, the current reporting regime and data collection shall be improved in order to increase market monitoring capabilities of the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER). Lastly, the amended REMIT framework shall harmonise supervision of the wholesale energy market and better prevent market manipulation by ensuring a consistent approach among national regulatory authorities. To this end, ACER shall carry out more responsibility in investigating complex cross-border cases of market manipulation.

Renewable Hydrogen

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Non-legislative Act: On the 16th of March 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on the European Hydrogen Bank (press release).

Problem: Hydrogen will play a central role in the EU's transition to climate neutrality. As a result, several regulatory frameworks for hydrogen production, consumption and infrastructure are already in the Union's legislative process. However, while the first final investment decisions have already been taken, the vast majority of hydrogen investments are still at the planning stage. Therefore, greater visibility of demand is needed to stimulate production.

Objective: The aim of this Communication is to outline the key elements of a European Hydrogen Bank. Therefore, the bank should close the investment gap by providing more transparency on demand, supply, flows, and prices of hydrogen. Both production within the EU and imports from outside shall be facilitated. The Hydrogen Bank thus supports the targets of the Green Deal Industrial Plan and the Climate Neutral Industry Act.

Subject Matter: The communication first presents the financing needs. The amount of total investment needed for generation, transport, and consumption of renewable hydrogen to meet the Green Deal targets is estimated to be between 335 and 471 billion euros. Thereby, more than half of this estimate is due to the additional electricity supply from renewable energy sources. In addition, investments of 500 billion euros in international value chains are needed to enable the import of renewable hydrogen in sufficient quantities. Besides relevant EU funds, such as Horizon 2020 or the EU ETS Innovation Fund, a large part of the investment will have to be covered by private capital. Therefore, the basic objective of the hydrogen bank will be to mobilise private investment in hydrogen value chains. Due to a lack of availability of renewable hydrogen on the world market, it is currently priced higher than fossil fuels. The hydrogen bank should therefore cover the cost difference between renewable hydrogen and fossil fuels in order to stimulate private investments and ultimately reduce the cost difference. Overall, the European Hydrogen Bank is based on four pillars. The first pillar is the creation of a domestic market through the networking of market participants. To this end, pilot auctions for the production of renewable hydrogen are scheduled to take place from autumn 2023. The tenders at EU level are intended to counteract a possible fragmentation of the markets within the Union. The second pillar describes the promotion of international hydrogen production. Similarly to the domestic market, this shall be achieved through the establishment of an auction mechanism. Thereby, a fixed green premium for international suppliers shall be introduced. Additionally, the stability, predictability, and reliability of third countries are also decisive for investment decisions. The third pillar describes the transparency and coordination of hydrogen flows, transactions and prices. This is intended to strengthen confidence in the still developing hydrogen market. Finally, the fourth pillar consists of the coordination of existing financing mechanisms. Hence, the various funding and financing instruments of the EU and the member states shall be coordinated with each other in order to use the available resources more effectively.

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Delegated Act: On the 10th of February 2023 the European Commission published a Delegated Regulation on supplementing Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a Union methodology setting out detailed rules for the production of renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin (press release).

Problem: Renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin are essential for the increase of the usage of renewable energy in sectors that are estimated to rely on them in the long term, such as aviation or maritime transport. In order to ensure that said fuels are of renewable origin, the Commission is requested to develop a detailed and reliable Union methodology.

Objective: The Act aims to ensure the temporal and geographical correlation between electricity production unit and the fuel production as well as to assure that the fuel producer is adding to the renewable deployment of renewable energy.

Subject Matter: This Regulation lays down detailed rules for determining when electricity used for the production of renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin (mainly concerning hydrogen) can be considered fully renewable. As a principle, such liquid and gaseous fuels are recognised as renewable only when the electricity used for the production is considered to be fully renewable. In instances where the supply of renewable electricity is provided by an installation which is directly connected to the production, producers need to show that production of renewable hydrogen takes place in the same calendar month as the production of the renewable electricity, due to the fluctuating nature of most renewable energy sources. In cases where the electricity is supplied by the grid, the production of electricity needs to meet the 70 per cent greenhouse gas saving criterion of the Renewable Energy Directive of 2018, in order for it to be considered as renewable. This can be achieved in bidding zones where renewable energy sources represent a dominant share, the energy production exhibits a low emission intensity or the electricity production supports the integration of renewable power generation.

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Delegated Act: On the 10th of February 2023 the European Commission published a Delegated Regulation on supplementing Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a minimum threshold for greenhouse gas emissions savings of recycled carbon fuels and by specifying a methodology for assessing greenhouse gas emissions savings from renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin and from recycled carbon fuels (press release).

Problem: Renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin as well as recycled carbon fuels are required to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector of the Union. However, the existing framework of the Renewable Energy Directive does leave gaps with regards to these fuels.

Objective: In order to close the gaps in the framework of the Renewable Energy Directive, the Act establishes a minimum threshold for greenhouse gas emissions savings of recycled carbon fuels and specifies the methodology by which to assess the greenhouse gas emissions savings from renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin and from recycled carbon fuels.

Subject Matter: The minimum threshold for greenhouse gas emissions savings of recycled carbon fuels is set at 70 per cent. Additionally, the Regulation lays out various specifications in the methodology of assessing greenhouse gas emission savings from renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin and from recycled carbon fuels. To this end, the energy content of such fuels in the output of a process shall be calculated by considering the amount of renewable electricity used in the input process.

Waste Reduction

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Proposal: On the 5th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (press release).

Problem: To this day, there is a significant generation of food waste across the European Union, which is not decreasing sufficiently to make significant progress towards achieving Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that current measures mainly focus on raising awareness rather than eliciting behavioural change. Furthermore, demographic changes have a significant impact on the amount of food consumed and food waste generated, adding to the complexity of the problem. Lastly, the functioning of the food supply chain and the practices of food business operators further contribute to the generation of food waste.

Objective: The Directive seeks to introduce a comprehensive approach to tackling food waste and textile waste management, focusing on prevention, reduction, and efficient management. It provides a framework for member states to develop and implement strategies that align with these objectives, contributing to a more sustainable and efficient use of resources.

Subject Matter: Firstly, the Directive mandates member states to take appropriate measures to prevent the generation of food waste in primary production, processing and manufacturing, retail and other distribution of food, restaurants, food services, and households. To this end, member states shall develop and support behavioural change interventions to reduce food waste, and information campaigns to raise awareness about food waste prevention. This involves tailoring interventions to the specific situations and needs in member states, and fully integrating them into national food waste prevention programmes. Moreover, member states shall identify and address inefficiencies in the functioning of the food supply chain and supporting cooperation amongst all actors, while ensuring a fair distribution of costs and benefits of prevention measures. This includes focusing on regional circular solutions, including public-private partnerships and citizen engagement, as well as adaptation to specific regional needs such as outermost regions or islands. As a third measure, member states shall encourage food donation and other redistribution for human consumption, prioritising human use over animal feed and the reprocessing into non-food products. Overall, member states shall be required to ensure that all relevant actors in the supply chain are involved proportionately to their capacity and role in preventing the generation of food waste along the food supply chain, with a specific focus on preventing disproportionate impact on small and medium-sized enterprises. Subsequently, the implementation of their food waste prevention measures, including compliance with the food reduction targets, shall be monitored and assessed regularly by member states. Hence, food waste reduction targets at the national level ought to be achieved by 31 December 2030. For instance, this includes a reduction in the generation of food waste in processing and manufacturing by 10 per cent in comparison to the amount generated in 2020. In the context of textile waste, the Directive stipulates that member states ensure social enterprises are allowed to maintain and operate their own separate collection points and are given equal or preferential treatment in the location of the separate collection points. It also mandates that collection points set up are not subject to the registration or permit requirements of this Directive. Finally, it requires producer responsibility organisations to provide end-users, particularly consumers, with information regarding the sustainable consumption, re-use, and end-of-life management of textile and footwear.

New Genomic Techniques

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Proposal: On the 5th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques and their food and feed, and amending Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (press release).

Problem: New Genomic Techniques (NGT) could improve crops by developing plants with improved tolerance or resistance to plant diseases, pests, and climate change effects, including extreme temperatures or droughts. However, due to the potential impacts on health, the environment, and the economy, it is crucial to manage the release and marketing of NGT plants and products. Furthermore, the evolving nature of NGT plants and their traits necessitates a regulatory framework to ensure their sustainable use.

Objective: The Regulation seeks to establish a detailed programme for monitoring the impact of NGT plants and products, in order to ensure a high level of health and environmental protection. Moreover, it aims to allow NGT plants and products to circulate freely within the internal market, while also incentivising traits that contribute to sustainability. Subsequently, the Regulation also includes provisions for regular assessments to gauge the legislation's effectiveness in achieving its objectives.

Subject Matter: The Regulation lays down provisions for the management of NGT plants and products, focusing on monitoring, notification, labelling, and the duration of consent validity. Firstly, a detailed programme for monitoring the impact of NGT plants and products is established. This programme, to be set up within 24 months of the Regulation's entry into force, will be based on indicators and will involve both the Commission and the member states in data collection and analysis. In addition, the Regulation mandates regular evaluations of its implementation and impact on various aspects, including human and animal health, the environment, consumer information, the internal market, and economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Secondly, specific provisions for the notification of the release of category 2 NGT plants are introduced. Thereby, the notifier is required to provide comprehensive information, including a description of the plant, its traits, the method used for the introduction of those traits, and the conditions of release. Furthermore, the notifier is required to provide information on data or results from releases of the same category 2 NGT plants previously or currently notified and/or carried out either inside or outside the Union. Thirdly, the Regulation stipulates specific provisions on monitoring. To this end, the written consent for the release of category 2 NGT plants shall specify monitoring requirements or state that monitoring is not required. Therefore, the Regulation also includes provisions for labelling. Moreover, the Regulation addresses the duration of the validity of the consent after renewal. Thus, after the first renewal, the consent granted shall be valid for an unlimited period, unless the decision provides that the renewal is for a limited period, based on the findings of the risk assessment carried out pursuant to this Regulation and on experience with the use, including results of monitoring. Lastly, certain aspects of the Official Controls Regulation of 2017 shall be amended to align with the new provisions.

Animal Welfare

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Proposal: On the 7th of December 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the protection of animals during transport and related operations, amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1255/97 and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 (press release).

Problem: The current legislation on the protection of animals during transport was adopted in 2004. After a Fitness Check of the EU animal welfare legislation significant developments in science and technology as well as shifts in societal preferences paired with increasing sustainability challenges are not reflected in the current regulation. The need for higher animal welfare standards when animals are moved in the context of an economic activity was emphasised by several Council Conclusions. Until today, weaknesses persist during transport.

Objective: The Proposal wants to contribute to sustainable agricultural and food production by ensuring a higher level of animal welfare, and avoiding distortions on the internal market. Specifically, it seeks to reduce animal welfare problems linked to long journeys, improve conditions of transport (e.g. avoiding extreme temperatures and narrow spaces) within the EU and to non-EU countries. The revision aims to align with the Farm to Fork strategy.

Subject Matter: The primary focus of the Proposal is on reducing journey times for animals, specifically for animals destined for slaughter and the five main farmed animal species. The Proposal seeks to establish a harmonised and unified approach for calculating these journey times, recognizing the stress and potential harm caused by prolonged transportation. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on increasing the space allowance for animals during transport, thereby ensuring they have adequate room to move and are not overly confined. This measure is particularly important for the well-being of the animals during transit. Moreover, the Proposal introduces clearer and more specific conditions for different species and categories of animals. This specificity is crucial as it recognizes the diverse needs of different animal types and ensures that each is treated in a manner conducive to their specific welfare requirements. Additionally, the Proposal pays special attention to the transportation of vulnerable categories of animals, such as pregnant animals, unweaned calves, and end-of-career laying hens, proposing improved conditions for their transport. Significantly, the Proposal also covers the conditions of livestock vessels, aiming to improve the standards of these transportation methods. It introduces the concept of external certification to ensure compliance beyond European Union borders, acknowledging the global nature of animal transportation. This measure is supplemented by stricter conditions for exporting animals from the EU to third countries, ensuring that welfare standards are maintained throughout the transportation process. Another key aspect of the Proposal is the establishment of clearer rules for reducing the exposure of animals during transport to extreme temperatures, whether very low or extremely high. Furthermore, the Proposal aims to reduce internal market distortions by modernising information-sharing tools and digitalising the entire process. Additionally, the Proposal suggests a harmonised approach for a sanctioning system and a common understanding of the level of severity of non-compliances. Correspondingly, the Proposal includes the development of a live-time tracking system, ensuring better response in case of incidents during transport. This system will play a critical role in monitoring and ensuring the adherence to the proposed welfare standards.

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Proposal: On the 7th of December 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the welfare of dogs and cats and their traceability (press release).

Problem: Until now, there has been a complete lack of EU legislation on the welfare of dogs and cats. This absence has led to highly variable and uneven welfare standards and traceability measures across member states. Furthermore, the free trade of dogs and cats within the EU, combined with inadequate traceability, significantly facilitates illegal trade from third countries.

Objective: The Proposal addresses these issues by establishing a common framework for the welfare of dogs and cats in the EU. Its aim is to prevent animal suffering, unfair business practices, including fraud, and to protect consumers. Moreover, it intends to supplement existing rules for the imports of dogs and cats, thus creating a harmonised standard across member states and improving overall animal welfare and traceability within the Union.

Subject Matter: A key aspect of the Proposal is the establishment of common animal welfare standards. These standards aim to provide better living conditions for dogs and cats, especially those kept in establishments. The Proposal includes requirements for the nutrition, housing, and overall management of these animals, alongside prohibitions against painful practices. Furthermore, it seeks to improve the traceability of dogs and cats, particularly those placed on the Union market or supplied. This measure is anticipated to significantly decrease the risk of illegal trade and improve consumer awareness when purchasing these animals. Moreover, the Proposal also emphasizes enhancing the competence of animal caretakers. This measure will ensure that individuals responsible for the care of dogs and cats possess the necessary skills and knowledge to meet their welfare needs effectively. The Proposal acknowledges the diversity in existing member state legislation regarding animal welfare and seeks to provide a harmonised approach to elevate the overall standard of care. In addition to setting welfare standards, the Proposal aims to create a more transparent and accountable system for the movement and supply of dogs and cats across the EU. It includes specific objectives for developing and operating a system for verifying the authenticity of identification and registration, particularly for offerings via online platforms. This system will ensure interoperability of national databases, thereby enhancing traceability and reducing the chances of fraudulent activities. In essence, the Proposal represents a significant step towards harmonizing dog and cat welfare standards across the EU. It addresses the current disparity in animal welfare legislation among member states and introduces a unified framework that not only enhances animal welfare but also protects consumers and combats illegal trade practices. The comprehensive approach of the Proposal reflects an understanding of the complexities involved in animal welfare and trade within the EU and offers a robust solution to these challenges.

Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems

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Non-legislative Act: On the 21st of February 2023 the European Commission published a Communication on the common fisheries policy today and tomorrow: a Fisheries and Oceans Pact towards sustainable, science-based, innovative and inclusive fisheries management (press release).

Problem: The Oceans and their biodiversity are facing many complex challenges today, such as maritime pollution, effects of human maritime activities and climate change. The common fisheries policy (CFP) needs to address these challenges, while ensuring coherency with other policy domains, namely the implementation of the European Green Deal.

Objective: The Communication aims to report the functioning of the CFP on the one hand, and set out a route towards sustainable and resilient fisheries in the future on the other.

Subject Matter: Since its reform of 2023, the CFP is assessed to have successfully brought together the social, economic and environmental dimensions of the EU fisheries policy. However, the implementation of a number of elements of the CFP needs to be improved, such as the landing obligation, the improvement of the knowledge base, the future of the fisheries profession and generational renewal or the allocation of quotas at national level. The Communication, alongside an action plan on protecting and restoring marine ecosystems and a Communication on the Energy Transition of the EU Fisheries, thus sets out measures to improve the CFP in the aforementioned areas. The first set of improvements is concerned with fishing and aquaculture communities, for which purpose the Commission shall conduct a Union-wide participatory foresight project on “Fishers of the Future” with future policy making implications, and calls member states to empower local fishing communities to address social challenges under European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) programmes. Another emphasis of the Communication lies within environmental and climate protection. To this end, evidence-based decision-making shall be strengthened, alongside optimised data collection and coherent and effective enforcement. The Commission therefore calls member states to fully implement the Single-Use Plastics Directive and marine action plan, which has been proposed alongside this Communication. Moreover, more selective fishing gear and an effective implementation of the landing obligation of 2019 is seen as key to reduce bycatch and increase its documentation. The Commission accordingly calls on stakeholders to provide key data for an evaluation of the landing obligation. Thirdly, the Communication includes measures to improve the CFP governance. Therefore, the Commission calls on fisheries regional groups to better involve environmental authorities and member states to allocate adequate resources to the work of these regional groups, additionally to fully implementing governance actions of the aforementioned marine action plan. The Commission shall also improve the transparency of the criteria used for the assessment of fishing opportunities by member states. The fourth part of the Communication is concerned with shifting fisheries interests beyond EU-Waters in light of recent geopolitical shifts. Thus, the Commission shall update the European maritime security strategy in 2023 and present a Joint Communication on Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Security, and Defence. Moreover, in the area of sustainable innovation and investment, the Commission calls member states to increase the transparency and flexibility of their fishing capacity management and encourages the Energy Transition Partnership and other relevant actors to advance practical and sustainable vessel modernisation. Lastly, in view of the implementation of the CFP in the future, the Commission calls member states, fisheries stakeholders and the scientific community to join the “Fisheries and Oceans Pact”, which is aimed at fully implementing and reflecting on the current fisheries policy. The pact is centred around the key principles of full policy compliance, transparency, improved governance, a recognition of the central role of fishers and increased research and innovation.

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Non-legislative Act: On the 21st of February 2023 the European Commission published a Communication on an Action Plan for protecting and restoring marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries (press release).

Problem: Marine ecosystems are essential for the planetary wellbeing and vital for the sustainability of the EU’s food systems. Thus, substantial threats to the marine environment and the fisheries sector, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, economic market disruptions and a rise in military operations in the Black Sea, need to be addressed urgently.

Objective: Building on the Biodiversity and Climate Adaptation Strategies, the zero pollution action plan and the Farm to Fork Strategy, this action plan aims to outline measures to increase the resilience of the EU’s fisheries, fight marine pollution and reverse the decline of marine ecosystems. The objectives are therefore in line with the EU’s commitments of the Joint Communication on International Ocean Governance, the common fisheries policy (CFP) and the EU’s pledges at the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15).

Subject Matter: The first set of outlined measures regard improvements in fishing selectivity and a reduction of the impact of fisheries on sensitive species. To this end, the Commission calls on member states to develop threshold values for the maximum allowable mortality rate from incidental catches, adopt measures to minimise by-catch, improve the implementation of Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) by updating measures against the loss and discarding of fishing gear and fishing related marine litter. The Commission shall in turn increase efforts to evaluate and improve fishing gear and propose limits for the incidental catches of the species covered by the threshold values. The second set of measures relates to reducing the impact of fishing on the seabed. The Commission therefore calls on member states to finalise the adoption of threshold values for the maximum allowable extent of seabed that can be lost or affected by human pressures and to phase out mobile bottom fishing in all Marine Protection Areas (MPA) by 2030. The third set of actions are concerned with the fairness and justice of the green transition and with maximising the use of available funds. Member states are thus called upon to take measures towards the take-up of sufficient funding to promote projects to support the use of less damaging fishing techniques and help fisheries communities in the transition towards more selective, less harmful and less fuel-consuming fishing practices. The Commission consecutively shall facilitate access to funding opportunities and set up grants to support projects that contribute to the development of next-generation blue economy skills. The fourth group of measures regard actions to strengthen the knowledge base, research and innovation, for which member states are called to identify and develop solutions and incentives to reduce the environmental impacts of fishing and improve data collection. To that end, the Commission shall promote the use of funding for advice, research and innovation, start developing a modelling tool to incorporate the concept of natural capital in economic decisions and launch research on the EU’s seabed carbon storage capacity and innovative fishing gear. As the fifth set, the action plan introduces measures to improve implementation, monitoring, and enforcement. In this regard, member states shall improve the monitoring of fisheries and the Commission shall in turn step up implementation and enforcement of environment and fisheries rules. Lastly, in order to improve governance, stakeholder involvement and outreach, member states shall prepare and publish roadmaps outlining the implementation of the action plan by March 2024, whereas the Commission shall continuously inform other EU institutions on the implementation of the action plan.

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Non-legislative act: On the 21st of February 2023 the European Commission published a Communication on the Energy Transition of the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector (press release).

Problem: Due to the high level of energy intensity and dependence on fossil fuels of the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector, the extremely high and volatile energy prices in 2022, induced by the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia, have exposed a structural vulnerability in the economic resilience and sustainability of the Unions fisheries.

Objective: The Communication aims to propose a coherent approach to reduce the sector’s dependency on fossil fuels and move to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible, therefore strengthening its resilience and achieving the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Communication is thus in line with the objectives of the Aquaculture guidelines and the European Green Deal.

Subject Matter: The first part of the Communication outlines the pillars and barriers of a successful energy transition in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. To this end, an improvement in overall energy efficiency is seen as a first step in reducing energy dependency, namely by fishing all harvested stocks should be fished at maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This is to be accompanied by the development of modern and energy efficient fishing techniques, which is however not always sufficient, since possible negative side-effects on the marine environment should always be considered and avoided. Ultimately, the energy transition is determined by the switch towards renewable and low-carbon power sources, in line with the other relevant strategies of the European Green Deal, namely the ‘Fit for 55’ Package. Overall, the transition needs to be driven by synergies among all stakeholders and should mainly be funded by the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF). Key challenges to the successful energy transition by 2050 consist in the form of technological, knowledge and financial barriers. In the second part of the Communication, the Commission proposes several actions in four main areas in order to accelerate the energy transition. The first area is an improved governance framework and coordination/cooperation between stakeholders. To this end, the Commission shall organise a conference on the energy transition of the EU in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, launch a new multi-stakeholder energy-transition partnership and develop a roadmap for the energy transition towards climate neutrality by 2050. The closing of gaps in technology and knowledge through research and innovation is defined as the second area of action. In this regard, the Commission shall launch an EU-wide study on the available technologies for the energy transition in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, launch an online platform for knowledge sharing, set up a web tool to assess the impacts of fuel prices on fleet and sector performance and lastly asses the need for additional regular data collection by 2024. Within the third area of action, which is concerned with the development of skills and a functional workforce, the Commission shall better promote grants under EMFAF to promote ‘blue careers’, further explore the issue of skills partnerships in the blue economy and explore the launch of a virtual academy programme on energy transition. The last set of actions is aimed at improving the business environment and raising awareness of financing opportunities. To that end, the Commission shall further support member states to translate the commitments of EMFAF programmes into concrete investments, improve targeted support for companies through the EU BlueInvest platform and develop a guide and database on the wide range of EU funding and financing instruments. Lastly, the Commission shall also further strengthen international cooperation in the context of the energy transition.

Sustainable Food Systems

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Legislative, incl. impact assessment, Q3 2023.

Healthy Soils

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Non-legislative Act: On the 5th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on ensuring resilient and sustainable use of EU's natural resources (press release).

Problem: The European Union is facing a dual crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, which poses significant threats to the region's long-term resilience and food security. The impacts of these crises are already evident, with increasing occurrences of droughts, wildfires, water scarcity, and floods affecting the majority of European countries. The unsustainable use of natural resources is a major driver of these crises, costing thousands of lives and billions of euros within the EU alone. Furthermore, the degradation and pollution of soils, coupled with weakened ecosystem resilience, have significant costs for sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and their related value chains. This degradation also reduces the business case for carbon farming while healthy soils secure farmers’ incomes from food production, carbon farming, and from the farm’s assets.

Objective: The Communication outlines the proposed measures of the legislative package which is aimed to ensure resilient and sustainable use of the EU's natural resources. It aims to strengthen disaster prevention and management, improve soil health, and manage droughts and water scarcity through innovative approaches. Moreover, it seeks to ensure efficient use of produce by tackling food and textile waste. Subsequently, the Communication aims to support the transition to sustainable food systems, enhance the genetic diversity of trees, and implement the polluter-pays principle to promote the circular economy. The ultimate goal is to uphold the EU's commitment to climate neutrality and ensure long-term food security for European citizens.

Subject Matter: One of the key points in the Communication is the proposal for a Nature Restoration Law. This law is seen as a crucial step towards ensuring the transition to sustainable food systems and their long-term resilience. It is also a response to the alarming decline in bee and butterfly species in the EU, which threatens the pollination of crops. Moreover, the Communication underscores the importance of managing droughts and water scarcity through innovative approaches. It advocates for the use of nature-based solutions for flood prevention, which have high benefit-cost ratios. Healthy soils, wetlands, and forests are identified as having a higher natural capacity to store water than artificial reservoirs, thus contributing to disaster risk prevention. In terms of specific provisions, the Commission proposes a solid and coherent soil monitoring framework for all soils across the EU alongside this Communication. The Proposal is aimed at continuously improving soil health in the Union with the view to achieve healthy soils by 2050. It builds on practices already in place and is seen as key to facilitating the monitoring requirements under LULUCF and the CAP. Lastly, the Communication also discusses the role of New Genomic Techniques (NGT) in boosting resilience for both agriculture and forested land. Thereby, these innovative techniques could improve crops by developing plants with improved tolerance or resistance to plant diseases, pests, and climate change effects, including extreme temperatures or droughts. The proposal on NGT therefore combines a high standard of protection for both human and animal health and the environment with a contribution to a resilient and sustainable food system through innovative plant products. The proposed measures are seen as necessary to deliver on the EU’s legal obligations under already adopted climate legislation, as well as on the EU’s multilateral commitments within the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework. The Commission calls on the European Parliament and the Council for the swift adoption of the initiatives under this pillar of the Green Deal.

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Proposal: On the 5th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience (Soil Monitoring Law) (press release).

Problem: Scientific evidence shows that approximately 60 to 70 per cent of soils in the EU are currently in an unhealthy condition, with degradation processes continuing and worsening. This issue extends beyond national borders, impacting the soil's ability to provide vital services such as food production, climate resilience, water filtration, and biodiversity support. The degradation of soils poses risks to human health, the environment, the economy, and society, including threats to food security, water quality, increased vulnerability to extreme weather events, and loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, the unprovoked and unjustified Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has exacerbated global food system instability, emphasizing the need for the EU to secure sustainable food systems for the future.

Objective: The Proposal aims to establish a comprehensive soil monitoring framework for all EU soils to address degradation issues and fill knowledge gaps. By defining indicators and values for soil health, it seeks to promote sustainable soil management, achieving healthy and resilient soils across the EU by 2050. The Directive also tackles soil contamination, aiming to reduce risks to human health and the environment and create a toxic-free environment by 2050, while generating employment opportunities related to site remediation.

Subject Matter: The key points of the Directive revolve around the need to promote soil health, prevent soil degradation, and restore degraded soils. The ultimate goal is to achieve healthy soils throughout the EU by 2050 and ensure the provision of vital ecosystem services by soil in the long term. Therefore, one of the main provisions of the Directive is the establishment of a soil monitoring framework. To this end, member states shall be required to set up soil districts as basic governance units for soil management and monitoring. They must appoint competent authorities for each soil district and implement a common set of measurable criteria for soil health. Monitoring systems should be harmonized to ensure comparable data across the Union. Furthermore, member states are urged to adopt a risk-based approach for managing potentially contaminated sites and contaminated sites, taking into account specific environmental, economic, and social contexts. They shall also be required to implement sustainable soil management principles to ensure the long-term provision of ecosystem services and improve air and water quality. Moreover, the Directive emphasizes the importance of soil health for addressing climate change and biodiversity loss. Therefore, the Commission shall promote soil health certification and support research and innovation programs to advance sustainable soil management practices. With regards to contaminated sites, member states shall be required to identify, investigate, and assess potentially contaminated sites. Adequate risk reduction measures, including remediation, should be taken to reduce risks to an acceptable level for human health and the environment. The Directive stresses transparency and public accountability, mandating the creation of a national register of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites accessible to the public. Lastly, the Directive's provisions are designed to be adaptable to scientific progress and further evaluated after six years of implementation to ensure their effectiveness in achieving healthy soils by 2050.

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Proposal: On the 5th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the production and marketing of forest reproductive material, amending Regulations (EU) 2016/2031 and 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 1999/105/EC (Regulation on forest reproductive material) (press release).

Problem: Within the Union, a harmonised approach to the production and marketing of Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) is seen as crucial to ensure the highest possible standards are imposed, thereby facilitating the free movement of FRM. Furthermore, it is essential to consider the practical needs and apply the rules only to certain species and artificial hybrids, which are significant for various purposes such as afforestation, reforestation, biodiversity conservation, and more.

Objective: The Regulation aims to set out rules concerning the production and marketing of FRM. Thus, it seeks to ensure sustainable afforestation and reforestation, biodiversity conservation, restoration of forest ecosystems, support for wood and biomaterials production, climate adaptation, climate mitigation, and the conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources. The approach shall balance the need for uniform requirements with the flexibility for member states to implement rules adapted to their local climatic and ecological conditions.

Subject Matter: One of the key provisions of the Regulation is the establishment of specific requirements for the performance of official controls on the activities of professional operators related to the production of particular FRM. This is in response to non-compliance with the Union rules on FRM of a particular origin or provenance. The Regulation also outlines the cases where competent authorities shall apply sanctions in relation to specific non-compliances. Furthermore, the Regulation provides for the Commission to lay down rules on uniform practical arrangements for the performance of official controls on plant reproductive material. Thus, compliance with Union rules applicable to those goods and for action taken by the competent authorities following such official controls shall be verified. Moreover, the Regulation introduces new features concerning the digitalisation of the FRM sector. To this end, professional operators shall be enabled to print the official label under official supervision by the competent authorities, once the authorities have concluded that the FRM is certified. This simplifies several processes, benefiting both SMEs and micro-enterprises. Lastly, it is specified that the Regulation shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and shall apply from 3 years after the date of entry into force of this Regulation.

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Proposal: On the 5th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the production and marketing of plant reproductive material in the Union, amending Regulations (EU) 2016/2031, 2017/625 and 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Council Directives 66/401/EEC, 66/402/EEC, 68/193/EEC, 2002/53/EC, 2002/54/EC, 2002/55/EC, 2002/56/EC, 2002/57/EC, 2008/72/EC and 2008/90/EC (Regulation on plant reproductive material) (press release).

Problem: To this day, there are inconsistencies and lack of uniformity in the standards and requirements in the production and marketing of Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) across member states. Furthermore, the current system does not adequately address the specific agricultural or climatic conditions of each member state.

Objective: In light of the shortcomings of the current framework, the Regulation aims implement more stringent production or marketing requirements for PRM, tailored to the specific conditions of each member state. Moreover, it seeks to improve the identity and quality of PRM through the implementation of these requirements. Finally, the Regulation also empowers the Commission to adopt specific rules on official controls and actions taken by competent authorities in relation to PRM, ensuring a uniform approach across all member states.

Subject Matter: The Regulation seeks to implement various amendments to current EU legislation. Firstly, the Regulation proposes an amendment to the Regulation on protective measures against pests of plants of 2026, clarifying that regulated non-quarantine pests (RNQPs) are exclusively regulated under that Regulation. It also introduces the possibility of combining the OECD label for imported PRM with the plant passport in a single format. Secondly, the Regulation proposes an amendment to the Regulation on official controls in food and feed law of 2027, to include PRM rules under the scope of Union legislation on official controls. Thereby, the basic rules and principles of official controls shall also apply to the production and marketing of PRM, including those for the competences of authorities, delegation of tasks, and certification. Moreover, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt special rules for official controls of PRM marketing and professional operators, as needed. In the case of imports, the general rules will apply on a risk basis. Thirdly, the Regulation proposes an amendment to Regulation on organic production from 2018, to update the content of the 'plant reproductive material' and 'organic heterogeneous material' as referred to in that Regulation. It ensures that all rules on PRM of heterogeneous material, both organic and non-organic heterogeneous material, are set out exclusively by the proposed Regulation. Lastly, it is specified that the Regulation shall apply 3 years after its entry into force, giving competent authorities and professional operators the appropriate time to adapt to the new provisions. This will also give the Commission time to adopt the necessary delegated and implementing acts. An additional transition period of 2 years will apply for the application of the new requirements for Value for Sustainable Cultivation and Use (VSCU) testing of new varieties of fruit plants and vegetables.

Follow-up to the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

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Proposal: On the 7th of December 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation establishing a common data platform on chemicals, laying down rules to ensure that the data contained in it are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable and establishing a monitoring and outlook framework for chemicals (press release).

Problem: Chemicals play a vital role in our daily lives, being integral to various products essential for our well-being, health, and security. However, some chemicals pose significant risks, potentially causing cancers and affecting various bodily systems, thereby increasing vulnerability to diseases. Furthermore, chemical pollution significantly contributes to global environmental crises, such as climate change, ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss. Despite the European Union's comprehensive regulatory framework for chemicals, a fitness check revealed significant weaknesses in it, impeding its full potential and effective management of risks posed by existing and new chemicals.

Objective: In response to the identified problems, the Commission, through the European Green Deal, has committed to presenting a chemicals strategy focused on sustainability. This strategy aims to adopt the 'one substance one assessment' approach, thereby enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, coherence, and transparency of safety assessments of chemicals across various EU legislations. The overarching goal is to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment from harmful chemicals, while also promoting the efficient functioning of the internal market for chemicals and fostering EU industry competitiveness and innovation. Furthermore, it seeks to facilitate the early identification of emerging chemical risks, thereby improving the protection of human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals for the benefit of Member State authorities, stakeholders, and citizens. Additionally, the initiative simplifies access to chemical information, increasing transparency and predictability for the industry, national authorities, and EU agencies.

Subject Matter: The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will establish and manage a common data platform on chemicals, providing access to all chemicals data generated within the EU. The data shall be made available and electronically accessible and searchable. The Proposal creates an obligation to ensure that chemicals-related data is included in the common data platform. It proposes to streamline monitoring and hazard data on chemicals to ensure that the relevant EU agency hosts the right monitoring and hazard data in line with their field of expertise and mandate. As the collection of human biomonitoring data can mean processing personal data, the Proposal includes a provision to authorise the lawful processing of that data by the EEA. They include an information platform on chemical monitoring, a repository of reference values, a database of study notifications, a database with information on regulatory processes, a database with information on applicable legal obligations, a repository of standard formats and controlled vocabularies and a database on environmental sustainability-related information, including climate change relevant data. Conditions apply to the use of the data, including the need to respect the confidentiality regime of the originating legislation under which the data was submitted. It places obligations on the Commission to select relevant chemicals or groups of chemicals and gives the possibility to the ECHA to then use the data in the common data platform and generate new data, as appropriate, including by using the data generation mechanism. Chapter VI establishes the 'Data generation mechanism', enabling the ECHA to commission studies in the form of testing or monitoring. The mechanism could feed into regulatory processes where data are lacking, to verify the effectiveness of legal measures and to generate additional data to provide evidence in exceptional cases of serious controversy on a specific substance or file.

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Proposal: On the 7th of December 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation mending Regulations (EC) No 178/2002, (EC) No 401/2009, (EU) 2017/745 and (EU) 2019/1021 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the re-attribution of scientific and technical tasks and improving cooperation among Union agencies in the area of chemicals (press release).

Problem: There are shortcomings in the consistency of safety assessments, the efficiency of the underlying technical and scientific work, and the consistency of transparency rules. This sometimes leads to inconsistent outcomes of assessments for the same chemicals across different legislation. This situation also implies an inefficient use of resources and carries unnecessary costs – from operating multiple committees conducting similar assessments, assessing the same chemical by several committees or bodies, to duplicating supporting technical and scientific work with potentially diverging hazard or risk assessment outcomes.

Objective: The commitment to start using the ‘one substance – one assessment’ approach aims to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, coherence and transparency of issuing safety assessments of chemicals across different pieces of EU legislation. It proposes the reattribution of technical and scientific work on chemicals performed under the relevant pieces of legislation to European agencies, allocating responsibilities and ensure a clear attribution of those.

Subject Matter: The Amendments enable EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) to better cooperate and coordinate with ECHA, EMA and EEA. This cooperation would lead to more consistent scientific assessments of chemicals and encourage the agencies to develop consistent scientific opinions and methodologies, taking into account specific sectoral characteristics. The provisions on data and information exchange would bring the EU a step closer to the one substance, one assessment goals. These provisions make greater interoperability possible and scientific processes more robust. Obligations on the EEA to promote and coordinate the development of assessment methodologies and places are streamlined. ECHA is tasked with updating existing guidelines on conducting risk-benefit assessment. The agency will also develop guidelines for substances, which are classified as either carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. The Commission acquires the possibility to request ECHA to develop a report analysing the human health, environmental, social, and economic impact of introducing or modifying concentration limit values. To promote the development of a comprehensive chemical exposure and toxicity knowledge base, as well as streamline data flows in line with the one substance, one assessment policy target, the provision also diverts data flows on the presence of persistent organic pollutant substances in the environment to EEA, which is the agency responsible for collecting occurrence data on chemicals in the environment.

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Proposal: On the 7th of December 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation amending Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the re-attribution of scientific and technical tasks to the European Chemicals Agency (press release).

Problem: There are shortcomings in the consistency of safety assessments, the efficiency of the underlying technical and scientific work, and the consistency of transparency rules. This sometimes leads to inconsistent outcomes of assessments for the same chemicals across different legislation. This situation also implies an inefficient use of resources and carries unnecessary costs – from operating multiple committees conducting similar assessments, assessing the same chemical by several committees or bodies, to duplicating supporting technical and scientific work with potentially diverging hazard or risk assessment outcomes.

Objective: The commitment to start using the ‘one substance – one assessment’ approach aims to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, coherence and transparency of issuing safety assessments of chemicals across different pieces of EU legislation. It proposes the reattribution of technical and scientific work on chemicals performed under the relevant pieces of legislation to European agencies, allocating responsibilities and ensure a clear attribution of those.

Subject Matter: Article 1 of the proposed regulation amends Articles 5 and 6 of Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. The amendments allocate a role and specific tasks to ECHA and its scientific committees in the processes for substance restrictions and assessing exemption requests corresponding to the restrictions. That amendment should ensure alignment with existing procedures under the Regulation (EC) No 1907/200623. Those procedures will be adapted where relevant to the specific characteristics of electrical and electronic equipment and the regulatory system of Directive 2011/65/EU. Additionally, ECHA may initiate the procedure for review and amendment of the list of restricted substances. This will be initiated by restriction dossiers from the Agency. Member states may also propose to prepare a restriction dossier. ECHA has to consult with the Committee for Risk Assessment.

Greening Freight Package

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Non-legislative Act: On the 11th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on Greening Freight Transport (press release).

Problem: Freight transport is seen as central to the functioning of the single market, and expected to grow correspondingly to the growth of the Union economy. Therefore, there is a pressing requirement to address the environmental impact of transport, particularly the emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) which account for a significant percentage of road transport nitrogen oxide emissions. This issue is particularly concerning for transport operations in and close to urban centres.

Objective: To address these challenges, this legislative package seeks to implement a comprehensive and coherent policy that integrates emission trading, infrastructure charges, energy, and vehicle taxes. The Communication outlines these measures under the concept of 'Greening Freight Transport', which is aimed to reduce the environmental impact of freight transport while allowing the single market to grow. The ultimate goal is to achieve the European Green Deal objectives for transport, ensuring that greening freight and economic growth go hand in hand.

Subject Matter: The first outlined key measure is the proposal for a binding share of at least 29 per cent of renewables within the final consumption of energy in the transport sector by 2030. This is a significant step towards reducing the sector's carbon footprint and aligns with the broader goal of transitioning to renewable energy sources. Secondly, the Communication proposes amendments to Union legislation on heavy-duty vehicles. Hence, the amendments shall strengthen the CO₂ emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles and integrate reporting obligations. This measure is seen as crucial in ensuring that the transport sector contributes to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Thirdly, the Communication introduces a new regulation on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines. This regulation, known as Euro 7, is proposed with respect to their emissions and battery durability. This measure is assessed as particularly important as it sets new standards for vehicle emissions, contributing to the overall objective of greening freight transport. Fourthly, the document suggests amendments to the Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. These amendments aim to streamline and enhance the efficiency of the transport network across member states. These changes are expected to have a significant impact on the transport sector, particularly in terms of improving connectivity and efficiency. In addition to these measures, the Communication highlights the importance of digital solutions in transport. For example, the European Green Digital Coalition has developed a methodology to assess the net environmental impact of digital solutions in transport. This initiative underscores the role of digitalisation in achieving the objectives of the Communication. Lastly, the document acknowledges the impact of automation and digitalisation on the transport workforce. Hence, the proposed measures seek to ensure that the transition to a greener and more digital transport sector is fair and inclusive for all workers.

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Proposal: On the 11th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the use of railway infrastructure capacity in the single European railway area, amending Directive 2012/34/EU and repealing Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 (press release).

Problem: To this day, there is a lack of a unified, efficient, and non-discriminatory management of rail infrastructure capacity across member states. Furthermore, there is an absence of a comprehensive mechanism for setting criteria, principles, and procedures related to capacity management, cooperation between rail stakeholders, and coordination at the EU level. Thus, there is a need for a common approach to managing scarce capacity, contingency planning, and the allocation of capacity beyond the period covered by the working timetable.

Objective: Against this background, the Regulation aims to optimise the utilisation of the rail network and improve the quality of capacity and operations, thereby enhancing the performance of rail transport services and accommodating larger amounts of traffic.

Subject Matter: Generally, the Regulation provides the legal basis for the development of more detailed rules, procedures, and templates, to be set out in non-legislative acts on rail infrastructure. Firstly, the Regulation establishes general responsibilities of rail infrastructure managers and the principles they must abide by in exercising their functions. Secondly, general rules for capacity management are introduced, including strategic capacity planning, scheduling and allocation of capacity, and adaptation and rescheduling of capacity. To this end, infrastructure managers are obliged to jointly develop a European framework for capacity management. Thereby, the framework shall define common principles and procedures for the management of rail infrastructure capacity, ensuring a coordinated approach between infrastructure managers, railway undertakings, and other operational stakeholders. Furthermore, it shall serve as a reference point for infrastructure managers and provide a platform for updating and refining management strategies based on the experiences of infrastructure managers, railway undertakings, and other applicants. Thirdly, the Regulation introduces obligations concerning traffic management, disruption management, and crisis management. Hence, in a crisis, member states should be enabled to apply emergency measures for the management of rail capacity and traffic. Fourthly, the Regulation includes measures to improve performance, such as strengthening incentives to improve the performance of rail infrastructure and rail transport services, introducing more effective mechanisms for coordination between stakeholders, particularly across borders, and supporting the deployment of digital tools enabling better capacity and traffic management. Fifthly, the Regulation establishes a Performance Review Body and the European Network of Rail Regulatory Bodies (ENRRB) to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight on matters related to the performance of rail infrastructure services and rail transport services. Overall, the measures introduced by this legislative proposal are intended to complement improvements in rail infrastructure capacity envisaged by the proposed revision of the TEN-T Regulation. The revision includes the completion of missing links on the TEN-T rail network, the accelerated deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System, and the addition of rail infrastructure requirements for intermodal transport. The Commission will carry out an evaluation five years after the end of the implementation period to verify to what extent the initiative’s objectives have been achieved.

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Proposal: On the 11th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport services (press release).

Problem: Within the Union, there persists a lack of a standardised methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions across all transport modes. Furthermore, there is a need for specific provisions to prevent fraud and irregularities in the verification process of these emissions data and calculation processes.

Objective: The Regulation aims to address the problem by introducing a well-to-wheel concept applicable to all transport modes, using the European version of the EN ISO 14083:2023 standard as the reference methodology. Moreover, it establishes specific conformity assessment rules for the verification of greenhouse gas emissions data, to be undertaken by accredited verifiers. Correspondingly, the Regulation aims to ensure transparency, uniformity, and credibility in the calculation and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions across the transport sector.

Subject Matter: Firstly, the Regulation proposes measures to incentivise behavioural change among businesses and customers to reduce these emissions through the uptake and use of comparable and reliable greenhouse gas emissions data. Therefore, one of the key points of the Regulation is the application of the “well-to-wheel” concept to all transport modes. The well-to-wheel concept, also known as life cycle assessment, is a comprehensive evaluation of the environmental impact of a given product or service throughout its lifespan, by taking into account not only the direct emissions from the use of fuels in vehicles (the "tank-to-wheel" phase) but also the emissions from the production and distribution of the fuel (the "well-to-tank" phase). The well-to-wheel analysis is seen as crucial in comparing the environmental performance of various energy sources and transportation technologies, thereby informing decisions towards more sustainable options. This approach shall thus ensure a comprehensive and uniform methodology for calculating emissions across different transport modes. Furthermore, the Regulation contains provisions specifically targeted at preventing fraud and irregularities. For instance, conformity assessment bodies in charge of the verification will have to be accredited by National Accreditation Bodies. The verification of greenhouse gas emissions data and calculation processes will be based on specific conformity assessment rules established by the EU through secondary legislation. This verification will be undertaken by a verifier accredited by national accreditation bodies appointed by the member states. Moreover, the Regulation sets out a framework for the control of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers by the member states. This framework ensures that the measures proposed in the Regulation are implemented effectively and in accordance with the established rules and principles. Lastly, the Regulation outlines specific objectives, including ensuring the comparability of results from greenhouse gas emissions accounting of transport services and facilitating the uptake of greenhouse gas emissions accounting in business practice. These objectives aim to improve the transparency and reliability of emissions data, thereby promoting more sustainable practices in the transport sector.

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Proposal: On the 11th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive amending Council Directive 96/53/EC laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic (press release).

Problem: Currently, the creation of a Single European Transport Area is hindered by fragmented patchwork of national requirements. Furthermore, previous EU legislation has not effectively promoted the adoption of alternative fuels, energy-saving technologies, and intermodal transport. In addition, legal loopholes and outdated standards are hampering technological progress and decarbonisation efforts.

Objective: The Directive aims to address these issues by incentivising and accelerating the deployment of zero-emission Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDVs), promoting innovation, and improving compatibility with other modes of transport. The revised provisions shall ensure the harmonised functioning of the internal market, promote environmental performance, and provide stability for long-term planning by road transport operators and HDV manufacturers. Correspondingly, it strikes a balance between establishing minimum standards at the EU level and giving member states flexibility in setting more ambitious solutions.

Subject Matter: The proposed Directive amends the Weights and Dimensions Directive of 1996, which lays down the maximum authorised dimensions and weights for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community in national and international traffic. The amendments are extensive and touch upon various aspects of the original Directive. One of the key amendments pertains to the dimensions of certain motor vehicles. The redefinition shall ensure that the dimensions of these vehicles are in line with the standards that have been established for the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles within the European Union in other Union legislation. Furthermore, certain definitions on trailers are also harmonised with other Union legislation. In addition, the Directive introduces provisions for exceptional circumstances. Hence, in the event of a crisis affecting several member states, the Commission may establish temporary exceptions from the application of the weights and dimensions limits for vehicles used in international traffic between affected member states. Member states shall be required to adopt and publish the necessary laws, regulations, and administrative provisions to comply with this Directive within two years of its adoption. They must also communicate to the Commission the text of the main provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Sustainable Transport

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Legislative or non-legislative, Q3 2023.

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Proposal: On the 11th of July 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport services.

Problem: Currently, transport stakeholders have a variety of standards, methodologies, calculation tools, and emissions databases at their disposal. This diversity often results in significant discrepancies in emissions data, compromising the comparability and accuracy of these figures in the market. Such inconsistencies not only provide misleading information about a transport service’s performance but also create opportunities for greenwashing, negatively impacting decision-making and incentives for users.

Objective: The initiative proposes a common regulatory framework for the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions across the multimodal transport chain. This framework is designed to establish a level playing field between different transport modes and segments, as well as across national networks within the Union. By increasing transparency about the performance of transport services, it aims to incentivize market players to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby fostering more efficient and sustainable transport solutions. Furthermore, this Regulation is intended to complement, rather than mandate, greenhouse gas emissions reporting, by aligning with other measures that support the green transition.

Subject Matter: A core aspect of this initiative is the establishment of a common regulatory framework, not mandating but supporting greenhouse gas emissions reporting. This framework is designed to complement other measures taken by industry and public authorities, which include introducing greenhouse gas transparency clauses in transport contracts and setting climate-related criteria for green procurement procedures and transport programmes. Notably, these measures must align with the rules for calculating, substantiating, and communicating greenhouse gas emissions as outlined in this initiative. Central to the initiative is the adoption of a reference methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions, with the new ISO standard 14083:2023 chosen for its relevance and proportionality in achieving the objectives. This standard represents a significant step towards establishing common rules and principles for greenhouse gas emissions calculation in transport operations, especially with its well-to-wheel approach. The well-to-wheel concept considers emissions from both vehicle use and energy provision, ensuring a comprehensive view of greenhouse gas emissions. Input data and sources form another critical element of the Regulation. It promotes a harmonised approach to input data, creating incentives to use primary data and allowing modelled data to increase reliability and mitigate discrepancies between various datasets. Central to this is the development of a core EU database for default greenhouse gas emission intensity values and emission factors, overseen by a neutral and competent EU body like the European Environmental Agency (EEA). The applicability of this framework is tailored to be inclusive and practical. A binding opt-in approach is adopted, where entities are required to use the common framework only if they choose to or are mandated to disclose greenhouse gas emissions data for their services. This approach is particularly significant for SMEs, which form the majority in the transport sector and often lack the capacity for such measurements and calculations. Transparency in greenhouse gas emissions output data is another focal point. The Proposal sets out harmonised metrics for generating and sharing emissions data and establishes common rules for communication and transparency. This measure is crucial for enabling accurate comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions data in the market and supporting informed choices by transport users.

Greenwashing

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Proposal: On the 22nd of March 2023 the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (Green Claims Directive) (press release).

Problem: Consumers play an active role in achieving the objectives of a more circular economy set out in the European Green Deal. In spite of this, their effectiveness is hindered by false environmental claims and that create a lack of trust in the credibility and value of product information.

Objective: The Proposal is intended to tackle false environmental claims (‘green washing’) by increasing the reliability, comparability, and verifiability of product information and the transparency of environmental labels. It shall therefore contribute to accelerate the green transition, protect consumers and companies from greenwashing and improve the legal certainty of environmental claims. The Proposal is published in conjecture with a Proposal for amending the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, as both aim at tackling a common set of problems on different elements.

Subject Matter: Whereas the revised Unfair Commercial Practices Directive covers all voluntary business-to-consumer commercial practices in general, this Proposal covers the substantiation and communication of voluntary environmental claims specifically. The Proposal thus defines minimum criteria on which the substantiation of explicit environmental claims need to be based on. The criteria include the reliance on recognised scientific evidence; considering all significant aspects in the assessment of the environmental performance; demonstrating that the claim is not equivalent to requirements imposed by law; or providing information whether the product performs significantly better than common practice. Additionally, further minimum requirements for comparative claims are set. These include the use of equivalent information for the assessment of the performance of compared products; an equivalent coverage of stages along the value chain; or stating the baseline year for comparative claims on improvement of impacts. An assessment is considered as robust, if it includes primary, company-specific data for relevant aspects of the environmental performance. However, the use of secondary information is permitted, if primary information is not available. For climate-related claims, the Proposal requires to report any greenhouse gas emission offsets used by the traders, separately from emitted greenhouse gas emissions. Another focus of the Proposal lies on requirements for the communication of environmental claims. To this end, all respective claims are required to be accompanied by information on the substantiation and to only cover environmental impacts that are assessed as significant and in accordance with the aforementioned substation requirements. Complementary to the requirements on displaying sustainability labels set out in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Proposal also introduces provisions on environmental labels and labelling schemes. Hence, labels are prohibited to present a rating score on environmental impacts unless these are established at the EU level. Furthermore, multiple requirements for environmental labelling schemes and their proliferation are defined. They include requirements on transparency and accessibility of information on ownership, decision-making body and objectives as well as ensuring that the underlying criteria of the award of labels are developed by experts and reviewed by stakeholders. The substantiation and communication of environmental claims and labels are also required to be verified by an officially accredited independent body as a third party. To enforce these provisions, member states are required to designate one or more appropriate competent authorities respectively. These will be given powers to investigate, enforce and monitor the compliance with the applicable provisions.

Sustainable Finance Package

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Non-legislative Act: On the 13th of June 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on a sustainable finance framework that works on the ground (press release).

Problem: Significant investment in all sectors of the economy is crucial to achieve a climate-neutral economy and reach the EU’S environmental sustainability objectives. However, there are no uniform standards for sustainability assessments and disclosures in the financial sector, resulting in a lack of transparency, comparability and reliability in the assessment of sustainable investment opportunities.

Objective: Therefore, the legislative package aims to establish a framework for sustainable finance in the EU. Thus, the integration of environmental, social and governance factors into investment decisions shall be facilitated and the transparency and comparability of sustainability information improved. The new EU framework consists of several measures, including the creation of an EU taxonomy, the introduction of disclosure requirements for sustainable investments and the promotion of sustainable financial products. The Communication sets out the proposed measures.

Subject Matter: A central aspect of the package is the development of the EU Taxonomy, which is a uniform classification system for sustainable economic activities. This is intended to help investors and companies identify sustainable investments and create transparency. The taxonomy will be gradually expanded, starting with the categories of climate change, adaptation to climate change, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, circular economy, pollution prevention and control, and biodiversity protection and restoration. Secondly, to facilitate the implementation of the framework, uniform European standards for sustainability reporting shall be developed. This should ensure that financial institutions and companies disclose information on their sustainability risks and impacts to enable investors to make informed decisions. The development of these standards shall be done in close cooperation with international organisations such as the International Sustainability Standards Board and the Global Reporting Initiative to achieve a high level of interoperability. Thirdly, the importance of cooperation at the international level is also stressed in order to create a global framework for sustainable finance. Accordingly, the EU aims to promote international standards and strengthen cooperation with partners such as the International Platform for Sustainable Finance and multilateral development banks. The implementation of the framework will be done closely with different stakeholders and international partners to ensure global cooperation and comparability.

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Proposal: On the 13th of June 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the transparency and integrity of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rating activities (press release).

Problem: Significant investment in all sectors of the economy is crucial to achieve a climate-neutral economy and reach the EU’S environmental sustainability objectives. Subsequently, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing is becoming a significant part of mainstream finance. However, while ESG ratings have an important impact on the operation of capital markets and investors confidence, the current ESG rating market shows deficiencies with regards to transparency on the characteristics these ratings, and with regards to clarity on how ESG rating providers operate.

Objective: Against this background, the Proposal is intended to enhance the integrity, transparency, responsibility, good governance, and independence of ESG ratings. This shall be achieved by enhancing the transparency of ESG ratings characteristics and methodologies, and by ensuring increased clarity on operations of ESG rating providers. The Regulation is part of a legislative package establishing a sustainable finance framework and an integral part of the Commission’s renewed sustainable finance strategy of 2021.

Subject Matter: Generally, the Regulation places significant emphasis on ESG rating methodologies, requiring rigorous, systematic, and objective approaches that are continuously validated. Therefore, the first set of measures lays down conditions for ESG rating providers to operate in the Union. To this end, the process for authorising these providers is specified, including requirements for equivalence, endorsement, and recognition for third-country ESG rating providers. Moreover, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is designated as the exclusive supervisory authority to ensure a level playing field and effective ongoing supervision. ESMA's supervisory role includes requesting information, conducting investigations and on-site inspections, and imposing penalties and fees on supervised entities. Cooperation between ESMA and national competent authorities should be established to ensure effective supervision. The second set focuses on the integrity and reliability of ESG rating activities. Thus, to enhance trust and transparency, ESG rating providers shall be required to disclose key rating assumptions and models, enabling users to conduct their own due diligence. Subsequently, the Regulation mandates ESG rating providers to maintain governance arrangements that ensure independence and avoid conflicts of interest. Thereby, transparency requirements for ESG rating activities to be made available to the public and subscribers are outlined. Thirdly, the Regulation also includes transitional and final provisions, specifying the application date for ESG rating providers to seek authorisation. Due to the diverse landscape of ESG rating providers, measures to support smaller entities are also introduced, such as exemptions from certain organisational requirements and proportionate supervisory fees based on their annual net turnover. The Proposal additionally provides a transitional period for small and medium-sized ESG rating providers already operating and for new entrants to the market.

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Delegated Regulation: On the 27th of June 2023, the European Commission published a Delegated Regulation supplementing Regulation (EU) 2020/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing the technical screening criteria for determining the conditions under which an economic activity qualifies as contributing substantially to the sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, to the transition to a circular economy, to pollution prevention and control, or to the protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems and for determining whether that economic activity causes no significant harm to any of the other environmental objectives and amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2178 as regards specific public disclosures for those economic activities (press release).

Problem: Significant investment in all sectors of the economy is crucial to achieve a climate-neutral economy and reach the EU’S environmental sustainability objectives. Thereby, clear definitions of economic activities that can be considered to be environmentally sustainable help to channel investments towards activities that substantially contribute to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Objective: The Regulation aims to establish technical screening criteria for certain economic sectors that have been identified to contribute substantially to environmental objectives, by amending the current EU Taxonomy framework. Therefore, the Regulation seeks to ensure that activities in these sectors do not cause significant harm to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Regulation is part of a legislative package establishing a sustainable finance framework.

Subject Matter: Firstly, with regards to waste and water activities, as well as services activities, most changes were technical or aimed to provide clarifications. This ensures that the criteria are clear and easily understood, facilitating their implementation by operators. Secondly, the Regulation also introduces changes to manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) or drug substances and of pharmaceutical products, as well as waste and remediation activities. Similarly, these changes were mostly technical or aimed to help clarify the activity description or the application of the technical screening criteria. Thirdly, the Regulation includes targeted changes to the conservation activity. The main changes concerned clarification of the formulation regarding offsetting, in order to clarify that only net biodiversity gains could be counted under the conservation activity. Fourthly, changes were also made limiting the use of fertilisers including manure to where it is necessary to achieve the conservation and restoration objectives and following best practices and in compliance with applicable law. Fifthly, the Regulation introduces changes to the tourism activity, in particular clarifying that an analysis of the so-called ‘carrying capacity’, i.e. the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time without causing destruction, is required. This ensures that tourism activities contribute to environmental objectives without causing significant harm. Finally, the Regulation introduces changes to the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act. These changes include the harmonisation of codes for economic activities and further consistency and usability improvements across the Annexes of the Disclosures Delegated Act for non-financial and financial undertakings. The Regulation will apply from 1 January 2024.

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Delegated Regulation: On the 27th of June 2023, the European Commission published a Delegated Regulation amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139 establishing additional technical screening criteria for determining the conditions under which certain economic activities qualify as contributing substantially to climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation and for determining whether those activities cause no significant harm to any of the other environmental objectives (press release).

Problem: Significant investment in all sectors of the economy is crucial to achieve a climate-neutral economy and reach the EU’s environmental sustainability objectives. Thereby, clear definitions of economic activities that can be considered to be environmentally sustainable help to channel investments towards activities that substantially contribute to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Objective: The Regulation aims to establish technical screening criteria for climate change mitigation and adaption for economic activities not yet included under the current EU Taxonomy framework, specifically the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act of 2021. This mainly concerns some manufacturing activities in relation to key components for low carbon transport and electrical equipment. Therefore, the Regulation seeks to ensure that these activities do not cause significant harm to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Regulation is part of a legislative package establishing a sustainable finance framework.

Subject Matter: The key points of the Regulation revolve around the amendments to Appendix C of Annexes I and II to the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act. The amendments aim to provide clearer criteria for the use and presence of chemicals. Furthermore, the Regulation proposes changes to improve the usability of Appendix C, such as specifying a minimum concentration limit for substances of very high concern in a product and a reference date for the assessment of compliance. Moreover, the document addresses further technical and legal inconsistencies identified since the application of the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act and therefore proposes targeted amendments. The Regulation is set to apply from 1 January 2024.

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Non-legislative Act: On the 27th of June 2023, the European Commission published a Recommendation on facilitating finance for the transition to a sustainable economy (press release).

Problem: Significant investment and a shift in finance in all sectors of the economy is crucial to achieve a climate-neutral economy and reach the EU’s environmental sustainability objectives. However, a number of challenges in multiple areas, such as of policy, technological readiness or social acceptability, remains to limit the Union’s capabilities to achieve this transition.

Objective: The Recommendation aims to facilitate finance for the transition to a sustainable economy, by providing suggestions to financial intermediaries, investors, member states, and financial supervisory authorities. Thereby, the Recommendation is part of a legislative package establishing a sustainable finance framework.

Subject Matter: Firstly, the Recommendation provides guidance towards undertakings, on how to use the EU Taxonomy to specify transition finance needs and how to set credible, time-bound, science-based transition targets. This includes planning the transition of their economic activities, earmarking needed transition investments, classifying sustainable investments, measuring current and planned climate or environmental performance, setting targets, and communicating these targets in transition plans. Subsequently, the use of metrics to measure and monitor the implementation of these targets is encouraged. To this end, the Recommendation also emphasises the importance of transparency and robust governance processes to support the implementation and oversight of transition targets. Moreover, the document addresses the specific needs of SMEs, encouraging financial intermediaries to apply the principle of proportionality in dealings with SME clients and to offer education and awareness programmes. It also encourages member states to raise awareness among market participants of the need to finance investments in the green transition and to promote innovative sustainable finance products and services tailored to SMEs. Lastly, the document highlights the role of multilateral development banks and national promotional banks in supporting these efforts by offering technical assistance. Thereby, initiatives between local banks and SMEs to develop and implement sustainable finance strategies and credible transition targets or plans are encouraged.

    European Commission Work Programme 2022

Security of Energy Supply

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Non-legislative act: On the 23rd of March 2022 the Commission put forward a Communication on the security of supply and affordable energy prices, containing options for immediate measures and preparing for next winter (press release).

Problem: The massive increase in end-user prices for natural gas and electricity over the past 12 months, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is driving up inflation, hurting the European economy and slowing the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Objective: EU leaders set the goal of ending the EU's dependence on gas, oil, and coal imports from Russia as soon as possible and agree on joint European action to address the root causes of the problem in the gas market.

Subject matter: The short-term options for action to limit the impact of high electricity prices on the population and businesses can be roughly divided into two categories: (1) financial compensation, and (2) regulatory. The interventions aiming at financial compensation are aimed at lowering electricity prices, either directly on the end consumer side or indirectly on the wholesale market. With regard to the end consumer side, measures such as the new temporary crisis framework for state aid, reduced VAT rates for gas, electricity and/or district heating are introduced. On the wholesale side, member states may consider, among other things, the establishment of an aggregator model, where a company buys electricity at favourable conditions and makes it available to certain categories of consumers below the market price. Possible regulatory measures without financial compensation consist of a regulatory cap on the maximum price that certain base load generators can charge. However, a disadvantage of this option is the need to access information on producers' costs and revenues, which may not be available to public authorities. In order to secure gas supply for the next winter and beyond at a reasonable cost, a cap or modulation of the gas price by regulatory means could be considered. This step can be seen as a signal that the EU will not pay any price for gas. At the same time, it brings with it some disadvantages in terms of security of gas supply. On all points, it is important to ensure that the EU acts consistently and uses its market power to negotiate partnerships with suppliers. To this end, for example, a task force for joint gas purchases should be set up at EU level. This would facilitate and strengthen the EU's international contacts with suppliers of liquefied natural gas and natural gas. Furthermore, the EU proposes a common and strategic European gas storage policy, among other things to optimise the use of existing storage infrastructure. In addition, the Commission has presented a legislative proposal on energy storage to ensure that existing storage infrastructure is filled to at least 90 per cent of its capacity by 1 November each year. In the context of the REPowerEU roll-out, the EU regulatory framework needs to be adapted to a much higher share of renewables in the energy mix, in line with the EU's decarbonisation targets. Options for optimising the design of the electricity market will therefore be examined by May.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 27th of June 2022 the new Gas Storage Regulation has been approved. Under the new legislation, the 18 member states that have underground gas storage facilities must fill them by at least 80 per cent of their storage capacity by 1st of November. EU Member States that do not have storage infrastructures must ensure through bilateral agreements that sufficient volumes can be stored in neighbouring countries. Storage operators in the EU will also have to go through a new certification procedure to reduce risks of external disruption (press release).

Proposal: On the 23rd of March 2022 the Commission put forward a Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and Regulation (EC) n°715/2009 on conditions for access to natural gas transmission networks (press release).

Problem: In view of the international tensions, plans, and measures must be pushed forward to become more independent of third countries in terms of gas supply. In addition, short-term measures are needed to address energy market imbalances and secure supply in the coming year. Specific problems of gas storage include the unattractive filling of storage in summer for the coming winter, the risk of insufficient storage, and risks to security of supply from the control over and use of storage facilities by third country companies.

Objective: The proposal aims to mitigate risks to the security of supply and the Union's economy. The EU's storage capacities should not remain unused and thus ensure that storage facilities can be shared across the Union on a solidarity basis. A mandatory minimum filling level of the gas storage facilities is to ensure security of supply for the winter months. In addition, mandatory certification of storage facility operators should ensure that risks to supply security can be excluded. Incentives for the use of storage facilities should also be created by exempting storage users from transmission tariffs at entry or exit points.

Subject matter: In order to secure the gas supply, it must first be ensured that the storage infrastructures in the respective territory of the member states are filled to at least 90 per cent of their capacity at national level by 1 November, with each Member State achieving interim targets in May, July, September, and February of the following year. A lower filling target of 80 per cent is initially envisaged for 2022. A "filling path" is to enable continuous monitoring throughout the entire injection season. From 2023 onwards, the Commission should be able to adjust the filling target and the filling path by adopting a delegated act, taking into account the annual stimulation of ENTSOG and the joint analysis to be carried out by the regional risk groups in accordance with Supply (EU) 2017/1938. All measures to ensure the filling of gas storage facilities should be necessary, clearly defined, transparent, proportionate, non-discriminatory and verifiable. In addition, member states should guarantee that any storage system operator, including those controlled by transmission system operators, is certified under this Regulation by the regulatory authority or any other competent authority in order to prevent interference with storage system operators from jeopardising the security of energy supply or other essential security interests of the Union or of a member state. In order to halt a further increase in gas prices when companies need to buy more gas at a time of higher prices, storage facilities should be exempted from entry and exit tariffs for long-distance capacity in order to make storage more attractive for market participants.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 5th of August 2022 the Proposal on reducing gas demand was adopted by the council and will come into force immediately. Thus, member states will voluntarily reduce their gas consumption by 15 per cent between 1 August 2022 and 31 March 2023. However, the Council retains the option of triggering a "Union alert", which would make the reduction mandatory (press release).

Proposal: On the 20th of July 2022 the Commission put forward a Proposal for a Council Regulation on coordinated demand reduction measures for gas (press release).

Problem: The EU's dependence on gas supplies from Russia, in the context of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, has significant implications for the EU in terms of gas and electricity prices, inflation and overall financial and macroeconomic stability. Currently, the EU faces the real possibility of a complete and prolonged disruption of gas supply from Russia.

Objective: In view of possible further supply disruptions by Russia, gas demand must be further reduced in order to avoid far-reaching negative consequences for EU citizens and the EU economy. A jointly coordinated approach must be taken to avoid significant distortions that would otherwise occur in the internal market.

Subject matter: EU measures already taken include the REPowerEU plan, the review of all national contingency plans and the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2022/1032 to ensure the filling of underground gas storage facilities for the coming winter. The risk of a sudden and unilateral total shutdown of Russian gas supplies requires strengthening the EU's resilience to future shocks through proactive demand reduction measures ahead of the coming winter. Such voluntary demand reduction would help to maintain storage levels, ensure adequate supply and lower prices for the benefit of Union consumers. In addition, the Commission should be empowered, after consulting the relevant risk groups and in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2017/1938, to set up the Gas Coordination Group and, taking into account the views expressed by the Member States in this context, to issue a Union alert if the voluntary demand reduction measures prove insufficient. When the Union alert is declared, all Member States should be obliged to reduce their gas consumption within a predefined period of time. While all Member States should achieve the same voluntary and mandatory reduction targets, some Member States are not in a position to release significant amounts of pipeline gas to other Member States due to their specific geographical or physical situation. For these Member States, there should therefore be the possibility to request a partial derogation from the demand reduction obligation. In general, Member States are free to choose the appropriate measures to achieve the mandatory demand reduction. However, it is important to ensure that these are clearly defined, transparent, proportionate, non-discriminatory and verifiable. Regular monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the measures is essential to assess Member States' progress in implementing voluntary and mandatory demand reduction measures. Due to the assumed persistence of gas supply disruptions to the Union, this Regulation should apply for two years after its entry into force.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 19th of December 2022, the AggregateEU mechanism was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. In order to counteract the energy crisis, the mechanism introduces bundled purchasing of gas at EU level for the first time. Therefore, member states must aggregate their gas demand by 15 per cent each (press release).

Proposal: On the 10th of October 2022 the Commission published a Proposal for a Council Regulation titled “Enhancing solidarity through better coordination of gas purchases, exchanges of gas across borders and reliable price benchmarks (press release).

Problem: Russia's manipulation of gas supplies in recent months has called the guarantee of security of supply in the Union into question and caused energy prices to rise to unprecedented levels with significant fluctuations. These economic and social hardships are placing a heavy burden on people and the economy, creating major energy supply challenges for the Union in anticipation of the coming winters.

Objective: The proposal's emergency measures aim to mitigate the impact of the current energy crisis on gas prices by addressing supply and demand, ensuring security of supply and strengthening solidarity.

Subject Matter: The proposed regulation consists of four main elements. Firstly, by means of "pooling", i.e. the coordination and bundling of gas demands in the Union, better prices shall be negotiated through the collective purchasing power of the member states, while mutual overbidding shall get prevented. To this end, an ad hoc Steering Committee is to be set up to support the Commission in coordinating and bundling demand in joint procurement. Furthermore, the use of LNG terminals and pipelines shall be increased, which should serve to harmonise trade. Secondly, the proposal takes a measure of the gas prices themselves to counter excessive prices and excessive day-to-day volatility on the energy market in order to ensure fair gas and electricity prices in crisis situations. To this end, a temporary intraday instrument will be established, which will set certain daily price limits for trading of front-month energy-related commodity derivatives, thereby limiting daily volatility. In addition, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) will be tasked with collecting and publishing objective price data, thereby establishing a LNG reference price. Furthermore, the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, shall be able to adopt a temporary market correction mechanism to limit excessive energy prices. Thirdly, the Proposal includes measures to promote solidarity across the Union, which is essential for a common approach to limiting prices in the event of a gas emergency. The existing solidarity obligations in the event of significant supply shortages will thus be expanded, e.g. between member states that have not yet concluded bilateral solidarity agreements. In addition, in order to share access to available gas sources appropriately between Member States in the event of a major gas supply disruption, the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, shall be empowered to adopt a decision on an allocation mechanism in the event of a regional or Union-wide emergency. Fourthly, the demand for gas should be further reduced while consumers continue to be adequately protected from supply shortages. To this end, the Commission recommends maintaining gas demand reduction efforts beyond March 2023 and will therefore monitor and supervise compliance with the established targets for saving and filling underground storages by up to 90 per cent, and reserves the right to trigger a Union alert or adjust the savings targets if necessary.

Zero Pollution Package

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Proposal: On the 19th of December 2022 the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (press release).

Problem: Even though the efficiency of the single market for chemicals is assessed to be successful, there are some weaknesses in the Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (“CLP Regulation”) from 2008 which prevent consumers from being fully protected against the dangers posed by hazardous chemicals.

Objective: As a cornerstone of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the proposed Revision aims to fill in those gaps, by tackling the issue of erroneous, obsolete or diverging classifications of substances, by improving communication on chemical hazards to consumers, companies and authorities, and by addressing legal gaps in the Regulation.

Subject Matter: The first set of amendments are intended to ensure the comprehensive identification and classification of chemical hazards. Measures for this purpose include the prioritisation of introducing a harmonised classification for new hazard classes by new delegated act; enabling the Commission to initiate and fund more harmonised classification and labelling dossiers; as well as improving companies’ classification of substances through incentives and provisions. The second set is aimed to improve hazard communication. To this end, obligatory formatting rules shall be introduced, packaging waste shall be reduced by selling chemicals with less severe hazards in refillable containers, and labelling requirements are defined on a broader scale. Thirdly, to challenge legal gaps and ambiguities, provisions for distance sales and clear responsibilities for all relevant actors shall be introduced and provisions for notifications to poison centres will be clarified.

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Proposal: On the 26th of October 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, Directive 2006/118/EC on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration and Directive 2008/105/EC on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy (press release).

Problem: Exposure to chemicals through drinking water can lead to a variety of short- and long-term health effects. Chemicals also threaten the aquatic environment, leading to changes in the dominant species and a decline or loss of biodiversity. Although EU-wide legislation is already in place to protect groundwater and surface water, the lists of pollutants and quality standards need to be updated, and further improvements made to the legislation to increase its effectiveness, efficiency, and coherence.

Objective: The overall objective is to improve the protection of EU citizens and natural ecosystems in line with the Biodiversity Strategy and the Pollution Action Plan, as well as to increase the effectiveness of legislation and reduce the administrative burden so that the EU can respond more quickly to new risks. This proposal aims in particular to update the lists of pollutants affecting surface and groundwater by adding and deleting substances and updating existing quality standards. Improving the monitoring of chemical mixtures will allow a better assessment of impacts and take into account seasonal variations in pollutant concentrations. It could be beneficial to harmonise measures on pollutants in surface water and groundwater across the EU and ensure that the regulatory framework can be adapted more quickly to scientific findings in order to respond more rapidly to emerging pollutants. Access to, transparency and re-use of data will be improved to enhance compliance, reduce administrative burden and promote coherence with the broader EU regulatory framework for chemicals. Ultimately, the initiative aims to set new standards for a range of chemical substances of concern to combat chemical pollution of waters, facilitate enforcement based on a simplified and more coherent regulatory framework, ensure dynamic and up-to-date information on the status of waters, supported by the European Environment Agency (EEA), and provide a more flexible framework for dealing with emerging pollutants.

Subject Matter: The Commission shall adopt implementing acts laying down technical specifications and standardised methods for the analysis and monitoring of water status and formats for the reporting of monitoring and status data. Member states shall make the monitoring data collected available to the public and to the European Environment Agency (EEA) electronically in a machine-readable format at least once a year. Additionally, the EEA shall ensure that the information submitted is regularly processed and analysed so that it can be available through the relevant Union portals. Where a member state identifies a problem affecting the management of its waters but which it cannot resolve, it shall notify the Commission and all other member states concerned and make recommendations for the resolution of the problem. The member states concerned will cooperate to identify the causes of the problems and the measures necessary to solve them. Moreover, the Commission is empowered to adopt implementing acts in order to take into account the scientific reports prepared by ECHA, to establish a watch list of substances for which member states are required to collect Union-wide monitoring data and to specify the formats to be used by member states for reporting the results of such monitoring and related information to the Commission. ECHA will prepare scientific reports to assist the Commission in selecting substances for the watch list.

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Proposal: On the 26th of October 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive concerning urban wastewater treatment (press release).

Problem: Despite the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive adopted in 1991, which protects the environment from the harmful effects of wastewater discharges from urban sources and certain industries, there are still a number of problems that need to be solved in order to optimise the existing Directive. Pollution from urban sources remains, especially in smaller towns with less than 2,000 p.e., decentralised plants and pollution from rainwater. In addition, new societal challenges have emerged since the adoption of the Directive, so the EC Directive calls for combating climate change, improving the circular economy in the EU and reducing environmental degradation. In the wastewater sector, additional efforts are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy consumption and improve the circular economy through better sludge management and safer reuse of treated water. Finally, the level of performance and transparency of operators varies widely, as the polluter pays principle is not sufficiently applied.

Objective: The revision of the Directive aims primarily to address the above challenges in a cost-effective manner, while keeping the Directive as simple as possible to ensure proper implementation and enforcement of its requirements. More specifically, the objectives are to help identify and prevent pollution from wastewater treatment plants wastewater treatment plants, and further reduce pollution from nutrients (N and P), micropollutants and microplastics, as well as the "other sources of pollution" (stormwater overflows, urban run-off, smaller communities and IAS). The wastewater sector is to become energy neutral, while conditions are to be created for increased reuse of water and better management of sludge and waste. Access to sanitation, especially for vulnerable and excluded people, will be improved and monitoring and reporting requirements will be modernised and simplified.

Subject Matter: Member states shall ensure that individual systems are designed, operated and maintained in such a way as to provide at least the same level of treatment as secondary and tertiary treatment. They shall also ensure that agglomerations where individual systems are used are registered in a public register and that these systems are regularly inspected by the competent authority. Member states which treat more than 2 per cent of the urban wastewater load from agglomerations of more than 2 000 p.e. shall submit to the Commission a detailed justification for the use of single plants in each of those agglomerations. These justifications shall demonstrate that the conditions for the use of individual plants are met, describe the measures taken, and demonstrate compliance with the minimum requirements. Member states shall, with the assistance of the European Environment Agency (EEA), establish by 31 December 2025 a dataset containing the information collected and the results of the tests in relation to the pass/fail criteria. By 31 December 2025, they shall establish a dataset showing the percentage of urban wastewater collected and treated and update this dataset annually thereafter. By 31 December 2025, they shall establish a data set containing information on the measures taken to implement Article 4(4) and on the percentage of the urban waste water load from agglomerations with more than 2 000 p.e. that is treated in individual systems, and update this data set annually thereafter. By 31 December 2030 and by 31 December 2040, the Commission shall carry out an evaluation of this Directive and present a report on the main findings of the evaluation to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions.

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Proposal: On the 26th of October 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (press release).

Problem: Every year, around 300 000 people die prematurely as a result of air pollution, while a number of non-communicable diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer continue to be attributed to air pollution. Thus, air pollution remains the most common environmental cause of premature death in the EU, disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions, as well as socio-economically disadvantaged groups. There is also growing evidence that air pollution can be linked to changes in the nervous system, such as dementia. It further threatens the environment through acidification, eutrophication and ozone damage, and damages forests, ecosystems and crops.

Objective: The main objective of this Directive is to revise EU air quality standards to align them more closely with WHO recommendations, to the extent possible to take into account the latest scientific advice, feasibility, costs, and benefits – and ensure legislation can respond in an appropriate and effective manner to future changes in underlying evidence base. Air quality plans shall be an effective means of identifying, planning and mitigating an exceedance situation as well as include clearer provisions on stakeholder participation, access to justice, penalties, and compensation linked to clean air in EU legislation. The provisions on air quality monitoring, air quality modelling and air quality plans to help local authorities achieve cleaner air need to be optimised. Citizens are to be better informed on health impacts of air pollution issues. Simplify existing provisions where feasible is also recommended to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of air quality management.

Subject Matter: This Directive lays down measures to define and establish air quality objectives with a view to avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and the environment as a whole, and measures establishing common methods and criteria for assessing ambient air quality in the member states on the basis of common methods and criteria. Additional rules are laid down for monitoring and obtaining information on ambient air quality. Further measures shall ensure that information on ambient air quality is made available to the public. Standards will be set to identify where air quality is good and where it needs to be improved. Finally, new measures will be introduced to promote cooperation between member states in reducing air pollution. By 31 December 2028 and every 5 years thereafter, and more frequently if substantial new scientific evidence so requires, the Commission shall review the scientific evidence on air pollutants and their effects on human health and the environment and submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council setting out the main findings. The review shall assess whether existing air quality standards are still appropriate to achieve the objective of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and the environment and whether additional air pollutants should be included. The review shall also assess if this Directive needs to be revised to align with the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), air quality guidelines and the latest scientific evidence.

  Climate Measures Package

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Legislative procedure completed (preliminary agreement): On 5th October 2023, the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on fluorinated greenhouse gases, amending Directive (EU) 2019/1937 and repealing Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 was adopted. The F-Gases Regulation provides incentives for the use of climate-friendly alternatives to help countries make the transition. The use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which account for about 90 percent of F-gas emissions, is to be reduced by 95 percent by 2030 compared to 2015. F-gases may only be used if there are no suitable alternatives, and the export of obsolete equipment to other EU countries is prohibited. The regulation ensures compliance with the Montreal Protocol. Using ozone-depleting substances is already banned, the new regulation implements that when buildings are renovated or demolished, the substances must be recovered or destroyed, in the chemical industry the use is more strictly regulated. For both pieces of legislation, enforcement, and implementation will be improved, making it easier for authorities to control imports and exports and monitor (Press release).

Proposal: On the 5th of April 2022 the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on fluorinated greenhouse gases, amending Directive (EU) 2019/1937 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 (Press release).

Problem: Fluorinated greenhouse gases ("F-gases") are several thousand times more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. According to the IPCC, global emissions of F-gases must therefore be reduced by up to 90 per cent by 2050 compared to 2015 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. Although F-gas emissions have been declining since 2015, potential for savings in this sector remains unused and the EU's 2030 emission reduction target will not be fully achieved under the current legislation.

Objective: The Proposal aims to further reduce F-Gas emissions and improve implementation and enforcement, monitoring and reporting as well as clarity and internal coherence. In doing so, it contributes to conformity with the Kigali Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-Agreement, achieving the Union’s climate targets of a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent in 2030 compared to 1990, and the objective of climate neutrality of Europe by 2050.

Subject Matter: In order to prevent emissions, operators, and manufacturers of equipment and installations emitting F-gases are obliged to take all necessary precautions to avoid unintentional release of F-gases and their by-products. This is ensured by obligation of documentation as well as inspections and leakage detection systems. In addition, the recovery of gases is regulated so that the relevant gases are properly recycled, reprocessed or destroyed. To this end, certification and training programs are established for natural persons who carry out these tasks of installations, maintenance, inspections, and recovery. Furthermore, the Proposal regulates restrictions and controls on the use of F-gases. Thus, the placing on the market of products in relation to the emission of F-gases will be severely restricted and are subject to labelling requirements. The proposed Regulation also covers the production and placing on the market of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are a dominant fraction of F-gases. The reduction and regulation of HFCs shall be achieved by limiting production rights and setting quotas for their placing on the market. Licensing and quota regulation will be carried out by the Commission, which will set up the “F-gas Portal” as an electronic system for administration for this purpose. In terms of trade, the aforementioned F-gas licences are subject to customs controls, alongside an empowerment of the Commission to adopt further measures to monitor and restrict illegal trade. Furthermore, imports and exports of products related to F-gases to countries that have not agreed to the Kigali Protocol will be banned from 2028. In order to improve monitoring and reporting, companies are required to submit an annual report on their activities to the Commission, which, in addition to reporting at EU level, will continue to be kept in the European Environment Agency's business data repository. In addition, the Commission regularly carries out studies on various relevant aspects of EU climate policy. For effective enforcement, increased cooperation and exchange of information among the competent authorities, nationally as well as across Union states, and the Commission, and risk-based controls of companies’ compliance with the Regulation will be established. In the event of violations, the member states are entitled to impose sanctions, namely fines.

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Legislative, incl. impact assessment, Articles 91 and 100(2) TFEU, Q4 2022.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 18th of January 2024, the Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1242 as regards strengthening the CO₂ emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles and integrating reporting obligations, and repealing Regulation (EU) 2018/956 was adopted (press release). The Proposal strengthens CO2 emission standards for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) entering the EU market from 2030. It introduces ambitious CO2 emissions reduction targets for the years 2030, 2035, and 2040, expanding its scope to include almost all trucks and various types of buses and trailers. The new standards will play a significant role in advancing the EU's shift towards zero-emissions mobility, aligning with the 2030 climate goals and the aim for climate neutrality by 2050. The agreement also underscores the commitment to zero-emission public transport, with urban buses facing stringent emission reduction targets. A comprehensive review of the regulation's effectiveness is scheduled for 2027.

Proposal: On the 14th of February 2023 the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1242 as regards strengthening the CO₂ emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles and integrating reporting obligations, and repealing Regulation (EU) 2018/956 (press release).

Problem: Road transport, particularly the heavy-duty vehicle (HDV), sector is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in the EU, and its emissions show an increasing trend. In light of reducing the Unions dependence on fossil fuels and meeting emission reduction targets as set by the European Green Deal, energy savings and efficiencies in the HDV-transport sector are seen as a key element in the transition towards zero-emission mobility and economy.

Objective: The proposal aims to provide new emission standards in the HDV sector, in order to contribute to the aforementioned shift to zero-emission mobility and climate neutrality by 2050. Thus, total CO2 emissions shall be reduced cost-effectively, transport operators and users shall benefit from more energy-efficient vehicles, and the Unions industrial, technological and innovation potential shall get strengthened by channelling investments into zero-emission technologies. The initiative is therefore closely linked to the Fit for 55 package.

Subject Matter: The first key element of the proposal is an aggravation of the emission standards for most heavy-duty motor vehicles. Thus, average CO2 emissions compared to 2019 for HDV shall be reduced as follows: 15 per cent by 2029, 45 per cent by 2034, 65 per cent by 2039 and 90 per cent by the years 2040 onwards. Some HDV are excluded from this Regulation, such as agricultural and forestry tractors, vehicles used for civil protection or fire services. The second key element consists in the zero-emission target for urban buses by 2030. All new urban buses shall thus be emission-free from 2030. All developments, and amendments if necessary, shall be reported in a five-year period and monitored by the Commission.

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Proposal: On the 30th of November, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a Union certification framework for carbon removals (press release).

Problem: To achieve deep cuts in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both natural ecosystems and industrial activities should contribute to removing several hundred million tonnes of CO2 per year from the atmosphere. In line with the Circular Economy Action Plan from 2020, the Union needs to ensure the high quality of carbon removals and establish an EU governance certification system to avoid greenwashing by correctly applying and enforcing the EU quality framework criteria in a reliable and harmonised way across the Union.

Objective: The Proposal is intended to promote the generation of high quality carbon removals, in order to meet the net removals targets of -310 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2030 which has to be achieved in the LULUCF sector. Thereby, it also addresses the introduction of a certification of carbon removals, “based on a robust, solid and transparent carbon accounting” as proposed by the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Subject Matter: The emphasis of the Regulation lies on the introduction of quality criteria for carbon removal activities that take place in the Union. To quantify the net carbon removal benefit, the following variables shall be considered: Carbon removals under the baseline, subtracted by the total carbon removals of the carbon removal activity, and the increase in direct and indirect GHG emissions which are due to the implementation of the carbon removal activity. To receive a certification of compliance with the proposed Regulation, operators need to fulfil requirements of additionality and sustainability, which a certification body shall verify. To this end, a liable and transparent certification schemes shall be set up, which have to be recognised by the Commission.

Circular Economy Package

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Non-legislative Act: On the 30th of March 2022, the Commission published a Communication on an EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles (press release).

Problem: The production and consumption of textile products has an extensive impact on water and energy consumption and on the environment. The consumption of textiles, most of which are imported, are expected to increase by 63 per cent by 2030. Trends of overproduction and overconsumption lead to an inefficient use of non-renewable resources, including the production of synthetic fibres from fossil-fuels. The complex and diverse global textile value chain is also faced with social challenges, in part driven by pressures to minimize production costs to meet consumer demand for affordable products, but this in turn makes unlawful working conditions and child labour possible.

Objective: The aim of this framework is to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. Consumers shall benefit longer from high-quality textiles, fast fashion shall become obsolete and economically profitable re-use and repair services should be widely available.

Subject matter: This Strategy includes: (1) mandatory Ecodesign requirements, which shall bind producers to product-specific requirements. The Commission attempts to introduce mandatory criteria for green public procurement as well. Digital tools shall be used to transition the Textiles Ecosystem. They could reduce the high percentage of returns of clothing and encourage on-demand custom manufacturing. The requirements shall also address synthetic fibres that are being shed into the environment. (2)The initiative on Empowering Consumers for Green Transition shall ensure that consumers are provided with information at the point of sale about a commercial guarantee of durability as well as information relevant to repair, including a reparability score, whenever this is available. General environmental claims (“green-washing”) shall in this way be made more difficult (3) a Digital Product Passport shall encourage businesses and customers to make better choices and to improve the communication between actors along the value chain. Mandatory disclosures on sustainability and circularity parameters, products’ size and, where applicable, the country where manufacturing processes take place are to ensure a consistency with the Textile Labelling Regulation. (4) a mandatory EU extended producer responsibility scheme with eco-modulation of fees shall create an economy of collection, sorting, reuse, as well as incentives for producers and brands to ensure that their products are designed in respect of circularity principles.

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Proposal: On the 30th of March 2022 the Commission put forward a Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directives 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU as regards empowering consumers for the green transition through better protection against unfair practices and better information (press release).

Problem: Unfair commercial practices prevent sustainable consumption by consumers. EU consumer protection rules, which make a crucial contribution to the proper functioning of the internal market, aim to ensure a fair and transparent relationship between businesses and consumers. They are thus designed to benefit the common good of European consumers and the EU economy.

Objective: This proposal aims to improve consumer rights by amending two directives to protect the interests of consumers at Union level. Thus, it aims to contribute to a circular, clean, and green EU economy. The improved consumer rights should also ensure a better and more coherent application of EU consumer protection rules. The amendments contained in the proposal aim to better protect consumers from unfair commercial practices such as greenwashing, early obsolescence practices and the use of unreliable and non-transparent sustainability labels and information tools.

Subject matter: In order to combat these business practices, which prevent consumers from making sustainable consumption choices, specific rules are to be included in EU consumer law. Specifically, by amending Article 6(1) of Directive 2005/29/EC, traders should be prevented from misleading consumers about the environmental and social impacts, durability or repairability of their products. To this end, the social and environmental impact as well as the durability, and repairability of the product should be included in the list of essential characteristics of the product. In order to ensure that comparisons of products on the basis of their environmental and social aspects do not mislead consumers, Article 7 of Directive 2005/29/EC is to be amended to the effect that the consumer must be provided with information on, among other things, the comparison method and the products which are the subject of the comparison. Another amendment concerns the inclusion of the prohibition of sustainability labels which are not based on a certification system or established by public authorities in the list in Annex 1 of Directive 2005/29/EC. Thus, general environmental claims without a recognised environmental excellence to which the claim refers shall be prohibited. With regard to the amendments to Directive 2011/83/EU, traders are to provide relevant repair information for all types of goods, such as information on the availability of spare lines as well as user manuals and repair instructions. Furthermore, Directives 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU are intended to act as a "safety net", thus ensuring that a high level of consumer protection can be maintained in all sectors by complementing sector- and product-specific Union legislation that takes precedence in the event of a conflict.

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Proposal: On the 30th of March 2022 the Commission put forward a Proposal for a Regulation laying down harmonized conditions for the marketing of construction products, amending Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Regulation (EU) 305/2011 (press release).

Problem: The implementation report on the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) in 2016 revealed certain shortcomings in its implementation and a significant number of challenges linked among others to standardization, simplification for micro-enterprises, market surveillance and enforcement. Another aspect of the CPR is its part in efforts towards energy- and resource-efficient buildings and renovations, and in addressing the sustainability of construction products.

Objective: The CPR revision aims to achieve a well-functioning single market for construction products and to contribute to the goals of the digital and green transition, in particular the modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy.

Subject matter: The Regulation establishes harmonised rules for the making available on the market and the direct assembly of construction products. These include rules specifying the way in which the environmental and safety performance of construction products is related to their essential characteristics, as well as environmental, functional and safety requirements for construction products. To ensure the conformity of a product, the manufacturer draws up a declaration of performance and thus assumes responsibility. The declaration of performance shall indicate the performance of products in relation to the essential characteristics in accordance with the relevant harmonised technical specifications or European Assessment Documents. In addition, the manufacturer of a product who is not exempted from the obligation to submit a declaration of performance shall draw up a declaration of conformity before placing the product on the market. The CE marking shall be affixed to those products for which the manufacturer has drawn up a declaration of performance or a declaration of conformity. The CE marking shall be affixed only to the essential components. Other markings may be affixed to a product only if they do not cover or refer to certain requirements applicable within the harmonised zone. Additional environmental obligations on manufacturers include, but are not limited to, packaging products in an environmentally sound manner, giving preference to the use of recyclable materials and materials obtained through recycling, and designing products in such a way that they can be easily repaired, reconditioned and upgraded. A manufacturer may, by means of a written mandate, appoint any natural or legal person established within the Union as his single authorised representative. They shall act with due care in relation to the obligations arising from this Regulation and shall perform the tasks specified in the mandate. The obligations of importers include the placing on the market of products which comply with this Regulation. Before doing so, the importer should check, among other things, whether the manufacturer has fulfilled the obligations. The distributor has the task of making a product available on the market only if the obligations of this Regulation are duly taken into account. The same applies to fulfilment service providers, brokers, online marketplaces etc. Suppliers and service providers involved in the manufacture of products also have a responsibility to ensure compliance with this Regulation. The Commission shall set up a complaints portal that allows natural or legal persons to share complaints or reports of non-compliance. In applying this Regulation, the Commission relies on international cooperation with third countries and organisations in various fields.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 2nd of February 2024, the Proposal on common rules promoting the repair of goods and amending Regulation (EU) 2017/2394, Directives (EU) 2019/771 and (EU) 2020/1828 was adopted (press release). The Proposal will enable consumers to request low-cost repairs for technically repairable devices such as tablets, smartphones and household appliances after the statutory warranty has expired. Manufacturers must publicly provide information about their repair services and estimated costs. Additional measures such as repair vouchers and a European repair platform are intended to promote repairs and make it easier for consumers to find suitable repair shops.

Proposal: On the 22nd of March 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on common rules promoting the repair of goods and amending Regulation (EU) 2017/2394, Directives (EU) 2019/771 and (EU) 2020/1828 (press release).

Problem: Because current legislation protects the right of consumers to replace defective products with new ones instead of repairing, the use of refurbished goods is limited within the Union. The premature disposal of reparable goods thus leads to increased waste, greenhouse gas emissions and more demand for valuable resources for new goods.

Objective: The Proposal aims to promote repair and reuse of defective goods, whether within or beyond the legal guarantee, and improve the functioning of the internal market in this regard. It shall therefore promote sustainable consumption, as has been demanded by the Conference on the Future of Europe and the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Subject Matter: The Directive applies to the repair of goods in the event of a defect that occurs or becomes apparent outside the liability of the seller. To achieve the objective of an increase in repaired goods, the Directive defines several provisions. Firstly, it introduces an obligation for repairers to provide standardised critical information on their services using the European Repair Information Form. It should enable consumers to better compare repair services or assess information on the key conditions of a given repair service. Repair services are thus prohibited from changing the Form for 30 days, once provided. Some of the most important parameters that should be included are: the price of repair and its calculation method, repair conditions such as time needed to repair or the availability of temporary replacement and ancillary services. Secondly, the Directive introduced an obligation for producers to repair defects on certain products outside the liability of the seller upon the request of consumers against a price. Products covered by this obligation include the product groups defined under the ecodesign framework. The obligation for covered products only doesn’t apply in cases where repair is technically impossible. If producers are obliged to repair, they are required to inform consumers accordingly. Thirdly, the Directive proposes an obligation for member states to provide for at least one national online platform to matchmake consumers with repairers. The platform should include search functions for the most important parameters such as goods, location and repair conditions. Consumers shall additionally be enabled to request a European Repair Information Form on the platform. Moreover, to promote the refurbishment of goods, the platform shall accommodate a search function for refurbished products and purchasers of defective goods for refurbishment. Lastly, the Directive takes scope at amending the Sale of Goods Directive (SGD). Thereby, the remedies of repair and replacement as exercised according to the SGD shall be balanced and harmonised. The Directive incentivises that consumers may choose between repair and replacement, if applicable. Thereby, repair shall always be preferred over replacement where the costs for repair are equal or less than the costs of replacement.

  Plastics Package

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 15th of September the Commission published a Regulation on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foods, and repealing repealing Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 (press release).

Problem: Plastics entail negative impacts of pollution on the environment. As a large part of all plastic packaging in the EU is used for food packaging, this area of consumption needs to be made more sustainable and efficient. Furthermore, it is important to reduce dependence on primary raw materials. Increased recycling of packaging plastics is therefore an essential prerequisite for the transition to a circular economy.

Objective: The Regulation aims to set clear requirements for the safety of recycled plastic materials and articles in contact with food, which should increase the recyclate content in plastic products and packaging, thus expanding the Union's recycling capacity for plastics. The Regulation sets clear requirements for the safety of recycled plastic materials and articles that come into contact with food. It aims to increase the recyclate content in plastic products and packaging, thereby providing a clear basis for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in assessing the suitability of recycling technologies and the safety of recycled plastics and enhancing the Union's recycling capacity. In addition, more transparency is to be created in the recycling sector. Furthermore, the regulation shall help to achieve the binding 2025 target of using 25 per cent recycled plastic in PET beverage bottles.

Subject Matter: The Regulation includes various specifications on the procedures and requirements for the production and consumption of recycled plastic materials and articles that come into contact with food. Firstly, the Regulation sets requirements for the placing on the market of recycled plastic and recycled plastic materials and articles. These include general requirements such as the use of appropriate recycling technology and collection and retention requirements. In addition, requirements for documentation, instruction and labelling, decontamination and after-treatment apply to recycling system operators. Secondly, requirements for the development and listing of novel recycling technologies will come into force, such as conditions for recycling facilities, their monitoring and assessment procedures by the Commission. The regulation shall thus make a decisive contribution to enabling more than 200 mechanical PET recycling processes. Thirdly, a procedure for the authorisation of individual recycling processes will be established alongside specifications for official controls. For this purpose, a Union register of technologies, recyclers, recycling processes, recycling schemes and decontamination installations will be established. Finally, the regulation will put transitional provisions for non-compliant recycled material into force.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 25th of September 2023, the European Commission published Regulation amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) no 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards synthetic polymer microparticles (press release).

Problem: Microparticles of synthetic or chemically modified polymers that are insoluble in water or degrade slowly can easily be ingested by living organisms. This raises concern about the impact of those particles on the environment as well as human health, contributing to microplastic pollution. The addressed polymers are already found in water and food. Often the pollution forms unintentionally, for example when larger pieces of plastic waste are broken down. However, some are manufactured to be used for products.

Objective: In 2019 the European Chemicals Agency published Annex XV to Regulation (EC) no 1907/2006, estimating more than 42 000 tonnes of intentionally present microplastics are released into the environment annually. The aim is to reduce intentional microplastics as much as possible to reduce emissions, such as but not limited to granular infill material, toys, cosmetics, fabric softeners and fertiliser.

Subject Matter: The Amendment will prohibit the sale of microplastics and products where microplastics have been added on purpose. The definition of microplastics covers any synthetic polymer particles under five millimetres that are insoluble, organic, and degradation-resistant. Fibre-like polymer particles, such as those used in adhesives and concrete, are covered by the regulation if they are between 5 and 15 millimetres. To prevent the replacement of microparticles by even smaller particles, particles below the microscale are also included in the restriction. Initial measures, such as the ban on loose glitter and microbeads, will apply as soon as the restriction takes effect on Oct. 15. For more complex measures, there is a longer transition period, which can be up to 12 years for certain cosmetics, to allow affected stakeholders to develop and switch to alternatives. Degradable or water-soluble, as well as natural polymers that are not chemically modified, are exempt from the regulation.
Standardized test methods and criteria are proposed for determining a potential restriction that measures biotic degradation. Divided into test methods, groups 1 to 3 include rapid but rigorous screening tests, 4 and 5 include screening as well as simulation studies, which are increasingly technically demanding and lengthy. These test methods are conducted under more environmentally relevant conditions. Degradability of the product is sufficiently demonstrated if the criteria for one of the test methods in groups 1 to 5 are met.

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Proposal: On the 16th of October 2023, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing plastic pellet losses to reduce microplastic pollution (press release).

Problem: Microplastics are persistent and harmful, easily transported through the air and by land surface waters and ocean currents, found in soil even. Plastic pellet losses to the environment are the third source of unintentional microplastic releases. Additionally, pellet losses do not only impact the environment, but the climate, the economy, and potentially the human health as well. In contrast to tyres or textiles, preventing pellet losses can be abated by swift measures to prevent avoidable pollution. Pellets are the industrial raw material for all plastic production. Current handling leads to losses at all supply chain stages. Once in the environment, they are almost impossible to capture, with their mobility being an aggravating factor.

Objective: The Proposal aims to reduce pellet losses to the environment, leading to a 54 to 74 per cent decrease, equivalent to a 6 per cent reduction of unintentional microplastic releases. This would help preserve biodiversity and ecosystems, decreasing potential health impacts and benefiting local economic activities. It therefore adds to efforts like the REACH restriction or the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)-

Subject Matter: “Plastic pellet” refers to a small mass of preformed polymer-containing moulding material with a relatively uniform dimensions in a given amount used as feedstock in plastic product manufacturing operations. Any economic operators, and (non-)EU carriers need to avoid losses. Economic operators are supposed to establish a risk assessment plan for each installation and notify the competent authorities designated by the member state where the installation is located. Competent authorities will establish and maintain a public register containing information on the installations of operators related to handling of plastic pellets and their use. Additionally, certificates will be needed, specifying the economic operator, the installation covered, the date of spot checks and the period of validity. Should the prevention, containment, clean-up of spills and losses fail, operators need to take corrective actions as soon as possible. Where damage to health occurs as a result. The public is able to claim compensation from natural or legal persons responsible for the violation of the Regulation. The current preferred policy option introduces a standardised methodology to measure pellet losses and mandates it use, once developed, to complement reporting requirement on estimates of quantities released. By providing just one methodology, instead of several ones, the policy option saves operators from having to develop a methodology, simplifies the reporting to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and improves the quality of reports. To support smaller enterprises (SME) the policy option contains a derogation for companies making and handling pellets in quantities lower than 5 tonnes.

Biodiversity and Farm to Fork

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Proposal: On the 22nd of June 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products and amending Regulation (EU) 2021/2115 (press release).

Problem: The application and enforcement of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD), adopted in 2009, have been flawed. Reports by different EU bodies show serious deficiencies in the implementation of the SUD in some member states, urging the Commission to introduce stricter rules.

Objective: The Commission primarily aims to transform the existing Directive into a regulation in order to increase coherence and introduce more effective policies in individual member states. The harmonisation of national pesticide-use policies shall help improve the functioning of the internal market and reduce trade distortions between member states. The proposal builds upon four specific objectives, the first being the reduction of the use and risk of chemical pesticides, in particular those containing more hazardous active substances. The application and enforcement of integrated pest management as well as the use of less hazardous and non-chemical alternatives to chemical pesticides for pest control shall further be increased. The second objective is to improve the availability of monitoring data, including on the application, use of, and risk from pesticides in addition to health and environmental monitoring. Policy effectiveness and efficiency shall be provided with the help of better implementation, application, and enforcement of legal provisions across all member states. Lastly, the adoption of new technologies is to be promoted with the aim of reducing the overall use and risk of pesticides.

Subject Matter: Rules for the sustainable use of plant protection products are presented, establishing requirements for use, storage, sale, and disposal of plant protection products. Additionally, such regulations address the application of equipment, providing for training and awareness raising, and providing for implementation of integrated pest management. This Regulation shall apply to products, in the form in which they are supplied to the user, consisting of or containing active substances, safeners or synergists. Member states are instructed to contribute, through the of national targets to achieving by 2030 a 50 per cent Union-wide reduction of both the use and risk of chemical plant protection products as well as the use of more hazardous plant protection products compared to the average of the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.

  Follow-up Financing the Sustainable Transition

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 7th of March 2022 the Commission and the EIB Group signed the InvestEU agreement, such as the agreement on the InvestEU Advisory Body (press release). By providing a 26.2 billion euro EU budgetary guarantee to support finance and investment operations, the InvestEU programme will attract public and private financing aiming to mobilise at least 372 billion euro in additional investment by 2027, benefitting people and businesses across Europe. The InvestEU Fund will provide the EU with long-term funding. Though the agreement on the advisory hub, an efficient point of access for financial and technical assistance demand, drawing and know-how from across the EIB Group will be provided. On the 24th of March 2021 the European Parliament and the Council published a Regulation on establishing the InvestEU Programme and amending Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 (press release).

Problem: The COVID-19-andemic is a major shock to the economies of the Union, with significant social and economic impacts on all member states and regions. The necessary containment measures have led to a decline in economic activity in the Union. In order to achieve the Union's policy objectives and to enable a rapid, sustainable, inclusive and lasting recovery, it is necessary to provide means of support to address market failures and sub-optimal investment conditions and to reduce the investment gap in certain sectors of the economy.

Objective: This Regulation establishes the InvestEU Fund, which provides an EU guarantee to support financing and investments carried out by implementing partners that contribute to the objectives of the Union's internal policies. The Regulation sets out both the objectives of the programme, its budget and the amount of the EU guarantee for the period 2021 to 2027, as well as the forms of Union funding and the funding rules.

Subject matter: Among other things, "InvestEU" is intended to improve the competitiveness of the Union, to contribute to the social resilience, integration and innovative strength of the Union and to scientific and technical progress. Furthermore, financing and investments in sustainable infrastructure as well as in research, innovation and digitalisation are to be supported. Both the access to and availability of financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the access to and availability of microfinance and financing for social enterprises, etc. "Invest EU" consists of three components: the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Service and the InvestEU Portal. The investments of the Invest EU Fund will focus on four policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitalisation; SMEs; and social investment and skills. Under this Regulation, the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group are entering into a partnership aimed at promoting the implementation and coherence of the InvestEU programme, as well as its inclusiveness, additionality and effective delivery. The EIB Group will, inter alia, take on operational tasks related to the InvestEU Advisory Platform, which will be set up by the Commission. The platform provides advisory support for the identification, preparation, development, design, tendering and implementation of investment projects and for strengthening the capacity of project promoters and financial intermediaries. The third component, the InvestEU Portal, is an easily accessible project database providing relevant information on individual projects. It offers project promoters the possibility to make their projects, for which they need financing, known to investors.

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Non-legislative act: On the 18th of May 2022, the Commission put forward a Communication on the REPowerEU-Plan (press release).

Problem: As a result of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, there were major disruptions to the global energy system, which revealed the EU's overdependence on Russian gas, oil, and coal imports.

Objective: The REPowerEU plan aims to reduce European dependence on Russian fossil fuels by accelerating the transition to clean energy and working together to create a more resilient energy system and a true Energy Union. To bring about a structural change in Europe's energy system, it proposes measures to save energy, diversify supply, rapidly replace fossil fuels and intelligently link investment and reform.

Subject matter: Concrete measures to save energy include the European Commission's proposal to raise the binding target of the Energy Efficiency Directive to 13 per cent. Additional savings and an increase in energy efficiency in buildings are also to be made possible via the Directive on the Overall Energy Efficiency of Buildings. In addition, increased implementation and ambitious updating of the National Energy and Climate Plans (NEKP) will be pursued in order to realise the REPowerEU targets. With a view to diversifying energy imports, an EU Energy Platform for voluntary joint procurement of gas, liquefied natural gas and hydrogen was first established. With regard to joint gas procurement, this platform will perform three functions: (1) aggregation and structuring of demand; (2) optimised and transparent use of infrastructure for import, storage, and transport of gas; and (3) outreach activities at international level. In addition, the Platform will identify demand and diversification of supply options and coordinate contractual issues through regional task forces. To substitute fossil fuels and accelerate the energy transition in Europe, renewable energies are to be promoted, for example through the installation of over 320 GW of solar power systems, which are to be installed by 2025. In addition, the domestic production of hydrogen from renewable sources and the import of renewable hydrogen are to be promoted. Furthermore, the sustainable production of biomethane is to be expanded, for example by offering incentives for the processing of biogas into biomethane. The REPowerEU plan is to be implemented with skilled labour, raw materials and a complete regulatory framework. To this end, the shortage of skilled workers is to be addressed, for example, by promoting a comprehensive skills partnership. With regard to investments under REPowerEU, the Commission expects that investments of 210 billion euro will be needed by 2027. At the same time, the implementation of Fit for 55 and the REPowerEU plan is expected to save on gas, oil, and coal imports by 2030. Other smart investments include around 10 billion euro to import sufficient quantities of LNG and pipeline gas from other suppliers; 1.5 -2 billion euro to ensure security of oil supply, and 29 billion euro of investments for the electricity grid. Finally, it is important to strengthen preparedness by, a.o., updating contingency plans, preventively implementing the EU Communication on Energy Savings and concluding outstanding bilateral solidarity agreements between neighbouring countries. The REPowerEU plan builds on the full implementation of all "Fit for 55" proposals and also serves the goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal.

Fair economy package

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 29th of November 2023, the Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) and Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste was adopted (press release). The directive is primarily intended to limit pollutant emissions from industrial plants more effectively. Implementation of the updated rules will cover additional sources of emissions, make approval more efficient, reduce administrative costs, increase transparency and provide greater support for pioneering technologies and other innovative approaches.

Proposal: On the 5th of April 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) and Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste (press release).

Problem: The 2020 evaluation of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) revealed its effectiveness in preventing and controlling pollution into air, water, and soil from industrial activities and promoting the use of best available techniques (BAT). However, it identified several areas for improvement due to inconsistent implementation across member states, varying levels of ambition, and new challenges. These issues prevent the Directive from fully achieving its objectives, particularly in reducing environmental pressures from agro-industrial installations and ensuring a high level of protection for human health and the environment.

Objective: Aiming to protect ecosystems and human health from the adverse effects of pollution from large agro-industrial installations and to enhance the resilience of EU industry to the impacts of climate change. The revision of the IED aims to stimulate a comprehensive agro-industrial transformation towards zero pollution by employing breakthrough technologies, thereby contributing to the European Green Deal's. Furthermore, the revision seeks to modernise and simplify current legislation, for instance, through digitalisation and enhancing knowledge about pollution sources. It also aims to improve public participation in decision-making and access to information and justice, including effective redress mechanisms.

Subject Matter: One of the key elements of the Proposal is the expansion and refinement of the existing Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). This includes broadening the range of industrial activities and sectors that fall under the directive's purview. Furthermore, the Proposal seeks to tighten the emission limits for certain pollutants, especially those known to have significant adverse effects on both human health and the environment. These stricter limits are designed to drive improvements in industrial processes and encourage the adoption of cleaner, more efficient technologies. In addition to revising emission standards, the Proposal places a strong emphasis on enhancing monitoring and reporting mechanisms. This includes the introduction of more rigorous and frequent monitoring requirements for industrial installations. Another important aspect is the integration of the IED with other relevant EU environmental legislation which ensures a more cohesive and comprehensive regulatory framework, reducing overlaps and inconsistencies between different pieces of legislation. By harmonising the IED with other environmental directives and regulations, the proposal aims to create a more streamlined and efficient regulatory process. The Proposal also addresses the need for greater transparency and public access to information regarding industrial emissions. This includes provisions for making data on emissions more readily available to the public and enhancing the mechanisms for public participation in environmental decision-making processes. Such transparency is crucial for fostering greater public awareness and engagement in environmental issues, as well as for holding industries accountable for their environmental impact. Moreover the introduction of more stringent penalties for non-compliance with emission standards and reporting requirements is introduced.

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Proposal: On the 5th of April 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on reporting of environmental data from industrial installations and establishing an Industrial Emissions Portal (press release).

Problem: Despite its effectiveness, the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) requires enhancements to align with other environmental legislations and to include additional contextual information for more effective environmental decision-making. This enhancement is crucial for optimising resource management and minimising pollution in line with Europe's climate and environmental goals.

Objective: The amendments are designed to revise EU rules to lower pollution from large industrial installations, thereby aligning with the Green Deal's zero pollution ambitions. This involves enhancing the existing E-PRTR to provide more detailed and contextually relevant public information on the performance of industrial installations. Such improvements aim to bolster efforts in reducing pollution, optimising resource management, and benefiting public health and biodiversity.

Subject Matter: The Regulation addresses the implementation issues by updating analytical methods used. Replacing the E-PRTR the Industrial Emissions Portal serves as a new online database. The Regulation defines key terms for clarity and legal certainty, ensuring consistency with other related EU legislation. It specifies the data to be contained in the Portal, including data reported by operators and member states, and additional relevant environmental information reported under other related EU legislation. Operators are required to ensure data quality, with competent authorities assessing the accuracy, completeness, consistency, and credibility of the data. A significant amendment involves revising the Regulation's sectoral scope to align more closely with activities covered by related environmental laws, particularly the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), the Directive on medium combustion plants, and the Directive on urban waste water treatment. This revision is designed to encompass all relevant pollutants, including priority substances under the Water Framework Directive and the Surface Water Directive, substances of very high concern under the REACH Regulation, and substances covered by EU laws on groundwater and air quality. Public access to the data contained in the Portal is a key aspect, ensuring free and unrestricted access to environmental information while respecting EU law on access to such information. Articles 14 and 15 empower the Commission to adopt delegated acts to amend Annexes I and II, ensuring the Regulation remains current and aligned with changes in the Protocol on PRTRs and EU legislation related to chemicals, water, and air quality. The Regulation also addresses penalties for infringements and calls for Member States to adopt compliance assurance measures.

European Commission Work Programme 2021

Fit for 55 Package

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional agreement): On the 18th of December 2022, an agreement was reached by the European Parliament with the Council on strengthening and expanding the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Thus, emissions from the ETS sectors (power and heat generation, energy-intensive industries, and aviation and maritime transport) will be reduced by 62 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, alongside an increase in the annual pace of emissions reductions. From 2027, a separate emissions trading system for the fuels used will also be introduced in the buildings and road transport sectors.

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Directive on aviation’s contribution to the Union’s economy-wide emission reduction target and appropriately implementing a global market-based measure. (press release)

Problem: Since 1990, CO2 emissions in the aviation sector have risen steadily and thus have a considerable impact on the rising global carbon footprint. Following the tightening of the climate targets, it is important to improve the measures in this area, as a large amount of pollution allowances have so far been allocated free of charge in the aviation sector, which undermines the purpose of allowance trading.

Objective: This proposal for a Directive introduces amendments to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) relating to its application to aviation and to ensure that: (1) aviation contributes to the 2030 emissions reduction target in line with the European Green Deal Plan; (2) the EU ETS is amended accordingly in relation to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation; and (3) the allocation of emissions allowances for aviation is revised with a view to increasing auctioning to ensure that emissions are priced appropriately.

Subject Matter: To implement the targets, the Directive aims to: (1) consolidate the total quantity of aviation allowances at current levels and apply the linear reduction factor under Article 9 of the ETS Directive; (2) increase the auctioning share of aviation allowances; (3) continue the application of the intra-EU ETS with the simultaneous application of CORSIA to non-European flights; and (4) ensure that air carriers on the same routes are treated equally with respect to their economically significant obligations. CO2 emissions from the following types of flights are to be excluded from this directive: government flights, humanitarian flights, medical flights, military flights, and firefighting flights. In addition, an exemption from the EU ETS shall be granted until December 31, 2023, for emissions from flights between an aerodrome in an outermost region of a member state to an aerodrome in the same member state.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 13th of December 2022, an agreement was reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The mechanism will adjust the carbon price of imported products to the carbon price level of products manufactured within the EU, in order to prevent so-called ‘carbon leakage’ to third countries. The Regulation was officially signed on 10 May 2023 (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a carbon border adjustment mechanism. (press release)

Problem: Due to differing climate protection targets and climate ambitions worldwide, there is a risk that CO2 emissions that are reduced and saved within the EU will be relocated to third countries. This threatens to happen if companies relocate their production to other countries with less stringent emissions regulations. Without targeted measures to stop this mechanism, carbon leakage could cause overall global emissions to continue to rise.

Objective: The purpose of this proposed regulation is to establish a border carbon offset mechanism (CBAM). The CBAM is intended to complement the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system in the Union established by Directive 2003/87/EC by applying equivalent rules to imports of cement, electricity, fertilizer, iron and steel, and aluminum into the customs territory of the Union. This is to ensure that the CO2 content of imported goods is reflected in the price. In this context, the EU will approach third countries to negotiate specific agreements regarding the system.

Subject matter: Goods may only be imported upon application for approval by a declarant. Each approved declarant submits a "CBAM declaration" to the competent authority by the 31st of May each year, in which the total quantity of the imported goods and the associated (grey) emissions in tons must be stated. Once a declaration has been made, CBAM allowances are to be sold by competent authorities in each member country to authorized declarants at a price determined by the Commission on a weekly basis. Each authorized declarant would then be required to surrender allowances in the national registry. If, by 30th of June of each year, there are any allowances remaining in a declarant's account after surrender, the competent authorities are required to cancel and, if necessary, buy back the remaining allowances. During a transitional period of three years (planned from 1st of January 2023 to 31st of December 2025), a carbon offset system will apply without financial adjustment. It is intended to serve as a vehicle of collecting initial data and raising awareness among registrants.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 9th of November 2022, an agreement was reached by the European Parliament with the Council increase the ambition of the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). Therefore, the binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for member states in ESR sectors will be increased ranging from 10 per cent up to 50 per cent compared to 2005 levels. The Europe-wide reduction target in these sectors will thus be increased from 29 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030 (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by member states from 2021 to 2030 contributing to climate action to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement. (press release)

Problem: In order to be consistent with the binding targets of the Climate Change Act, the total amount of annual greenhouse gas emission reduction targets needs to be increased by ten percentage points and in order to make this possible, the Burden Sharing Regulation (ESR) needs to be adapted.

Objective: This proposed Regulation aims to increase the national and collective emission reduction targets covered by the European Burden Sharing Regulation (ESR), which has been in place since 2018. This includes standardizing national targets with an EU-wide reduction of 40 percent in the ESR sectors by 2030, in exchange for each member state making its individual contribution to the overall EU reduction, with reduction targets between -10 and -50 percent below 2005 levels.

Subject Matter: To implement the targets, the five-year compliance periods of the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation will allow member states to gain more flexibility and transfer unused credits from the ESR sector to the LULUCF sectors. Thus, the scope of sectors covered by the Burden Sharing Regulation expands. The establishment of an additional mechanism in the form of a reserve is intended to allow unused LULUCF credits, at the end of the second compliance period, to be transferred to the member states that need them. However, the use of this reserve will depend on over-achievement in the LULUCF sector and is not mandatory for member states. In addition, the Regulation relies on robust monitoring, reporting and verification frameworks. Within six months of each global stock take (under Article 14 of the Paris Agreement), the Commission would be required to submit a report to the Council and Parliament on the application of the Regulation. The calculation of future member state-specific emission allocations will be based on existing greenhouse gas emission data from previous years. This process will continue in the coming years, so that the Commission will also review the emission data for 2021, 2022 and 2023 and it will subsequently serve as the basis for calculation, which will further improve the accuracy of the targets.

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional Agreement): On the 30th of March 2023, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on amending the EU Renewable Energy Directive. Thereby, the binding target of a minimum share of renewable energy in the EU by 2030 will get raised from 32 percent to 42,5 percent. The political agreement now needs to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council to enter into force (press release).
Addendum: Following the agreement in the Council on 28.03.2023, the new CO2 standards for passenger cars have been finally adopted. Accordingly, the Commission will now propose a delegated act in autumn 2023, according to which vehicles powered exclusively by e-fuels should also contribute to the CO2 emission reduction targets (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on promoting energy from renewable sources. (press release)

Problem: In order to achieve the EU's goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050, the European Commission has set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) by 55 percent by 2030. This, in turn, requires a higher share of renewable energy sources in an integrated energy system, which is why the current RED II expansion targets of at least 32 percent are not sufficient.

Objective: The current Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) is to be revised to bring it in line with the goals of the Climate Target Plan (CTP). Therefore, the current targets of RED II are to be raised so that by 2030 the share of renewable energy increases to 38-40 percent.

Subject matter: To achieve the targets, this Directive aims to (1) promote joint projects among member states and have them in place no later than 31st of December 2025; and (2) implement more transparency by transmission and distribution system operators on their renewable energy and GHG emissions shares. In addition, manufacturers of household and industrial batteries are to provide basic information on the battery management system, and the same applies to automotive production. Moreover, (3) the proportion of renewable energy in the building sector is to be increased to 49 percent by 2030; (4) the proportion of renewable energy in industry is to be increased by 49 percent by 2030, and 50 percent of renewable fuels are to be hydrogen-based. (5) In addition, reduce GHG emissions in the transport sector by at least 13 percentage points by 2030 with the help of renewable energy; and (6) to establish a Union database to record liquid and gaseous fuels, as well as recycled carbon fuels. To implement the Directive, member states will be required to bring into force necessary national laws, regulations and administrative provisions no later than the 31st of December 2024.

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Provisional Agreement: On the 10th of March 2023, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement to reform and strengthen the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (press release). The revision marks the first time that the principle of energy efficiency is given legal strength by almost doubling the EU’s annual energy savings commitment. At 11.7 per cent additional saving by 2030 compared to the 2020 projections, the agreement exceeds the 9 per cent energy efficiency target originally proposed by the Commission. Before entering into force, the provisional agreement must now be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on energy efficiency. (press release)

Problem: Energy efficiency is a key area of action to achieve full decarbonization of the Union's economy. The overall national contributions reported by member states in the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) fall short of the Union's 2030 target of 32.5 percent, even though the 2020 energy efficiency target was met due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Objective: The proposed amendments to the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) aim to set rules for member states to implement energy efficiency as a priority in all sectors especially in the public sector. Furthermore, it aims to remove barriers in the energy market and to create a principle of prioritizing energy efficiency. The elementary target for energy efficiency is to reduce energy consumption in 2030 by at least 9 percent compared to the projections of the 2020 reference scenario, so that the Union's final energy consumption does not exceed 787 Mtoe and the Union's primary energy consumption does not exceed 1023 Mtoe in 2030.

Subject matter: Using the "energy efficiency first" principle, member states shall ensure that energy efficiency solutions are taken into account in policy and investment decisions in energy system sectors as well as in non-energy sectors where they have an indirect impact on energy consumption and energy efficiency. In the form of a report to the Commission as part of the integrated national energy and climate progress reports, member states should provide information on their indicative national energy efficiency contributions. This includes, among other things, (1) a stronger commitment by the public sector to reduce its energy consumption by 1.7 percent annually, (2) a tightening of public procurement rules, and (3) a renovation obligation of at least 3 percent of the total heated and/or cooled floor area of buildings (larger than 250 m2) of public facilities. In addition, (4) an increase of the annual energy savings obligations for all member states to 1.5 percent from 2024 and specific measures to reduce energy poverty. (5) With the help of an energy obligation system, member states are to oblige domestic companies with a certain average energy consumption to introduce an energy management system. (6) The heating and cooling supply system shall be strengthened in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, especially at the regional level, by establishing local plans for heating and cooling supply. In a staggered system, the ultimate goal is to use only renewable energy and waste heat by 2050.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 11th of November 2022, an agreement was reached by the European Parliament and member states on a revision of the regulation in the land use, forestry and agricultural sector (LULUCF). Therefore, the EU target for net removals of CO2 by natural sinks has been increased to 310 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030. The regulation simplifies existing compliance rules and increases the quality of monitoring, reporting and verification, while setting the responsibility for achieving their respective emission targets with the individual member states (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the scope, simplifying the compliance rules, setting out the targets of the member states for 2030 and committing to the collective achievement of climate neutrality by 2035 in the land use, forestry and agricultural sector. (press release)

Problem: Due to an increased demand for wood and the general aging of forests, as well as damage caused by natural disasters and the lack of political and financial will, lead to an decline of CO2 removals in the land use sector. Furthermore, the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector is not sufficiently included in climate policy because there are no integrated targets for the LULUCF sector and agriculture.

Objective: The amendments to the Regulation are to set the overall Union target for net removals of greenhouse gases in the LULUCF sector at 310 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2030 and the Union target in the land use sector (which combines the LULUCF sector and the non-CO2 agriculture sector) to achieve climate neutrality by 2035. After 2035, only negative emissions are to be produced.

Subject matter: To achieve Union-wide removals of greenhouse gases in the LULUCF sector, binding national annual targets are to be implemented. In 2025, based on the results of a comprehensive review of the reported greenhouse gas inventory, the Commission is to adopt an implementing act setting annual targets based on verified emissions and removals in 2021, 2022, and 2023 for each member state. After the end of the period from 2021 to 2025, member states cannot carry over GHG surplus removals to another period (“no-debit rule”). Although, part of the surplus removals of member states will be transferred to a flexibility mechanism for the period 2026-2030, which will allow the redistribution of unused offsets of managed forest land among member states. In addition, the scope of the mechanism is to expand from forest land to all relevant land. To achieve the common targets, member states are to be required to submit their contribution to the Commission by June 2024 in their updated integrated national energy and climate plans.

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional agreement): On the 28th of March 2023, a provisional agreement was reached by the European Parliament and the Council on a new Regulation for the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure. The Regulation aims for an increase in the number of public electric charging stations and hydrogen refuelling stations, particularly on major road, sea and air transport corridors and hubs. Before entering into force, the Regulation must now be formally adopted by the Parliament and the Council (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure. (press release)

Problem: The existing Directive 2014/94/EU on the development of alternative fuels infrastructure for mobility and transport needs to be revised due to its shortcomings. The directive does not include a detailed and binding methodology for calculating targets and adopting measures.

Objective: This Regulation aims to create a comprehensive network of refueling station infrastructures based on a geographically equitable distribution to enable the widespread introduction of low- and zero-emission vehicles in all modes of transport. To this end, binding national targets are to be set for the development of sufficient alternative fuel infrastructure for road vehicles, ships and stationary aircraft. In particular, a minimum level of infrastructure should be ensured to support the necessary the required uptake of alternative fuel vehicles in all modes of transport and in all member states.

Subject matter: Different targets shall apply to the implementation of the infrastructures of the different alternative fuels: (1) For electric vehicles, member states shall be required to establish publicly accessible charging pools for light and heavy duty vehicles in each direction of travel within a maximum distance of 60 km along the TEN-T core network. Member states shall also ensure that airport operators are able to provide power supply for commercial electric air transport by the beginning of 2025. (2) For hydrogen refueling infrastructure, member states shall ensure that hydrogen refueling stations with a minimum capacity of 2 t/day and with at least 700 bar dispensers are equipped at a maximum distance of 150 km along the TEN-T core network by the end of 2030. (3) For liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure, an adequate number of refueling stations for road vehicles (heavy duty vehicles) shall be established by early 2025, unless the costs are disproportionate to the (environmental) benefits; the same applies to LNG refueling stations in seaports. (4) For shore-side electricity supply, a minimum of shore-side electricity supply for sea container and passenger vessels shall be provided in seaports by early 2030. By 1st of January 2030, all TEN-T networks shall have at least one shore-side electricity supply facility for inland vessels.
To meet the targets, member states are to create a national strategy framework and submit the draft to the Commission by 1st January 2024. By 1st of January 2027, member states are required to submit an independent progress report to the Commission.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 28th of October 2022, an agreement was reached by the European Parliament and the Council on a revision of the regulation setting CO2 emission standards for vehicles. This means that all new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles registered in Europe will be emission-free by 2035. As an interim step by 2030, average emissions from new passenger cars will be reduced by 55 per cent and from new light commercial vehicles by 50 per cent (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on strenghening CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles. (press release)

Problem: The automotive industry is of key importance when it comes to meeting the Union’s climate targets, as transport is the only sector to have recorded consistently rising greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. The automotive sector is undergoing a significant structural change, towards zero and low emission technologies, yet car manufacturers must be able to maintain their market position in the face of international competition.

Objective: This proposal aims to reduce CO2 emissions from newly registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. CO2 emission standards shall help the automotive industry to increase its ambitions in terms of technological inventions and to direct more investments towards zero-emission technologies. In addition, the standards should increase the supply of zero-emission vehicles and thus make more affordable zero-emission vehicle models available to consumers.

Subject matter: From 2030, the EU-wide fleet target for reducing CO2 emissions from new passenger cars will be 55 percent and for light commercial vehicles 50 percent. These levels are considered a percentage reduction from the 2021 baseline, and the 2021 baseline is to be published by the Commission by 31st October 2022. From 2035, the fleet target values for reducing CO2 emissions are to increase to 100 percent. To review the measures, member states are to be required to report CO2 emissions and mass of newly registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to the Commission annually. In addition, from 2022, manufacturers and competent authorities shall report data on actual fuel and energy consumption. In cooperation with the European Environment Agency (EEA), the Commission is scheduled to publish annually the final monitoring data of the previous calendar year. The Commission shall prepare progress reports on the development towards zero-emission mobility in road transport by 31st of December2025, and every two years thereafter.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 7th of December 2023, the Proposal for a Directive on the energy performance of buildings was adopted (press release). Member states will adopt national trajectories to decrease average primary energy use, focusing on renovating the worst-performing buildings. The directive introduces measures to fight energy poverty, improve Energy Performance Certificates, and trigger a Renovation Wave with national building renovation plans. Additionally, the agreement establishes a gradual phase-out of fossil fuel-powered boilers by 2040, promotes sustainable mobility, and sets a zero-emission standard for new buildings by 2030.

Proposal: On the 15th of December 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings (press release).

Problem: With buildings accounting for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, the EU must act to meet its climate targets. In the EU, 80% of household energy consumption is for heating, cooling and water heating. Therefore, buildings in the EU need to be renovated to become more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. Renovation is key to reducing building energy consumption, lowering emissions, and reducing energy bills.

Objective: The main objectives of this revision are reducing buildings’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and final energy consumption by 2030 and setting a long- term vision for buildings towards EU-wide climate neutrality in 2050. To achieve this, the specific goals are to increase the rate and depth of building retrofits, improve information on building energy efficiency and sustainability, and ensure that all buildings meet carbon neutrality requirements by 2050. Important levers here are strengthening financing and modernization and system integration.

Subject matter: Directive 2010/31/EU is amended as follows: first, a new definition of "zero-emissions building" is introduced. This covers buildings that have a very high energy performance and whose energy needs are met entirely by energy from renewable sources. Furthermore, the national building renovation plans will be made more operational. The monitoring framework will be strengthened by introducing an evaluation of the draft national building renovation plans by the Commission and the issuing of recommendations. The methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings is updated to clarify the energy performance and ensure the correctness of the calculated energy consumption. It also aligns the calculation of the cost-optimal level with the Green Deal and specifies that the cost of greenhouse gas allowances and environmental and health externalities of energy use must be considered in determining the lowest cost. The new regulations on new buildings include that (1) starting in 2030, new buildings and new public buildings starting in 2027 must be emission-free. (2) That the life-cycle global warming potential (GWP) of new buildings from 2030 onwards must be calculated in accordance with the tier framework, so as to inform the full life-cycle of emissions from new buildings. (3) That Member States consider important aspects of new buildings beyond energy performance, namely a healthy indoor environment, adaptation to climate change, fire safety, risks associated with strong seismic activity, and accessibility for people with disabilities. By classifying the energy performance of buildings and focusing the financing and renovation of buildings with the worst energy performance, the aim is to ensure that efforts are focused on buildings with the greatest potential for decarbonization, tackling energy poverty and extended social and economic benefits. In addition, a voluntary renovation passport will be introduced to better support building owners who plan to renovate their building step by step. Furthermore, bureaucratic obstacles regarding renovation are to be reduced and higher financial incentives and technical support measures for in-depth renovation projects are to be introduced. Member States are responsible for monitoring compliance with minimum energy performance standards.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 15th of November 2023, the Regulation on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector and amending Regulation (EU) 2019/942 was adopted (press release). The regulation requires fossil gas, oil and coal industries to properly measure, monitor, report and verify their methane emissions to the highest monitoring standards and to take action to reduce them.

Proposal: On the 15th of December, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector (press release).

Problem: Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and responsible for about a third of current climate warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that deep reductions in methane emissions must be achieved by 2030 for the world to stay below the 1.5°C (or even the 2°C) 2050 global temperature target. They also underline the role of methane as one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. The 2030 Climate Target Plan’s impact assessment indicates that in the EU the most cost-effective methane emission savings can be achieved in the energy sector.

Objective: The Commission aims to preserve and improve the environment by reducing methane emissions from fossil energy produced or consumed in the Union while ensuring the functioning of the internal market for energy. Therefore, the Commission wants to (1) improve the accuracy of information on the main sources of methane emissions associated with energy produced and consumed within the EU, (2) tackle market failures leading to insufficient mitigation of methane emissions by companies, and (3) improve the availability of information to provide incentives for the reduction of methane emissions related to fossil energy imported to the EU.

Subject matter: This Regulation includes the coal, oil and gas sectors. Each Member State shall designate one or more competent authorities responsible for monitoring and enforcing the application of this Regulation. Therefore, emissions reports shall be submitted by operators. With the help of a new EU regulatory framework the highest standard for measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) methane emissions shall be ensured. The new rules would require companies to measure and quantify their methane emissions at source at the facility level and to conduct comprehensive surveys to identify and repair methane leaks from their operations. In addition, the proposal prohibits venting and flaring practices that release methane into the atmosphere, except in narrowly defined circumstances. Member States should also establish emission reduction plans that take into account methane mitigation and measurement from abandoned mines and inactive wells.
In order to mitigate methane emissions outside the union, a transparency database shall be established. Importers of fossil fuels shall be required to submit information about how their suppliers perform measurement, reporting and verification of their emissions and how they mitigate those emissions.

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional agreement): On the 18th of December 2022, an agreement was reached by the European Parliament with the Council on creating a Social Climate Fund. From 2026 onwards, this will be used to provide targeted financial assistance to vulnerable citizens and micro-enterprises to help them invest in energy-saving measures.

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal20 for a Regulation on establishing a Socila Climate Fund. (press release6)

Problem: The European climate targets and the associated CO2 pricing are accompanied by significant social and distributional impacts that may disproportionately affect financially weaker households, micro-enterprises and transport participants who spend a larger share of their income on energy and transport.

Objective: The Climate Social Fund (Fund) aims to mitigate the social and distributional impacts of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for the buildings and road transport sectors, which were not previously included in the ETS, on the most vulnerable populations. Member states shall receive funding to support their actions to address the social impacts of the ETS on financially vulnerable households, micro-enterprises and transport users.

Subject matter: Member states are to identify measures and investments in climate social plans and submit them by the end of 2024 along with their updates to the integrated national energy and climate plan. The plans are to include measures such as temporary income support to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the medium to long term. They also aim to increase the energy efficiency of buildings, promote the decarbonization of heating and cooling, and provide access to zero- and low-emission mobility. If the plans are evaluated positively, the Commission and the respective member state reach an agreement to enter into an individual legal commitment. If a plan does not meet the intended criteria, no funding is to be allocated until the plan is amended.
The fund's financial envelope is 23.7 billion Euro for 2025-2027 and 48.5 billion Euro for 2028-2032, representing 25 percent of the expected revenue from the sale of emissions trading allowances for the buildings and transport sectors. 50 percent of the climate social plans are to be financed by the member states themselves.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 21st of January 2023, the Directive on carbon offsetting requirements for air transport emissions (CORSIA) entered into force. CORSIA is a system for offsetting CO2 emissions from international aviation that was introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2018. The directive is intended to implement obligations under CORSIA in order to mitigate the impact of aviation on the climate. (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on ensuring a level playing field for sustainable air transport. (press release)

Problem: To meet the EU's climate targets, air traffic must become more sustainable. Furthermore, aviation fuel prices currently vary widely across the Union. As a result, many aircraft operators fill up with more aviation fuel than necessary in order to avoid partial or full refueling at the destination airport, where aviation fuel is more expensive. This practice is referred to as "fuel tankering." This results in higher fuel consumption than necessary and thus higher emissions, and undermines fair competition in the Union aviation market. With the Union's efforts to spread the use of sustainable aviation fuels and the resulting increase in costs for aircraft operators, the practice of "fuel tankering" is expected to increase.

Objective: This Regulation aims to restore a level playing field in the aviation sector while avoiding harmful environmental impacts. Therefore, this proposal establishes rules to ensure a gradually increasing share of sustainable aviation fuels without adverse effects on the competitiveness of the EU internal aviation market.

Subject matter: To implement the Regulation, (1) aviation fuel suppliers would be required to ensure that any aviation fuel offered to aircraft operators at Union airports contains a minimum proportion of sustainable aviation fuel, including a minimum proportion of synthetic fuel. In addition, (2) aircraft operators shall ensure that the annual volume of aviation fuel dispensed at a particular Union airport is at least 90 percent of the annual aviation fuel requirement. To enable aircraft operators to use sustainable aviation fuels, it would (3) require Union airports to provide the necessary infrastructure. In addition, (4) a transition period of 5 years shall allow aviation fuel suppliers to make an appropriate transition to the integration of sustainable aviation fuels.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 23rd of March 2023, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the FuelEU Maritime regulation. Thereby, net greenhouse gas emissions from shipping will be reduced by at least 55 percent by 2030, and by 80 percent by 2050. The initiative complements the extension of the EU Emissions Trading System to shipping emissions and is thus intended to make a decisive contribution to decarbonizing the sector (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport. (press release)

Problem: Fuel consumption in the maritime sector is currently based exclusively on fossil fuels. This is due to the lack of affordable and usable technological alternatives to fossil fuels and insufficient incentives for operators to reduce emissions.

Objective: This Regulation proposes a common regulatory framework to increase the share of renewable and low-carbon fuels in the fuel mix of international maritime transport, without creating barriers to the internal market.

Subject matter: To implement this Regulation, limit values are to be set for the annual average greenhouse gas intensity of the energy consumed on board of a ship. These are staggered and amount to two percent in 2025 and increase to 75 percent reduction to the reference value by 2050, which will be calculated in a later phase of the legislative process. In addition, container ships and passenger ships are to be required to use shore-side electricity or zero-emission energy at berth from 1st of January 2030. To verify emissions, shipping companies are to submit a comprehensive monitoring concept for each of their ships to the responsible inspection body by 31st of August 2024. The monitoring concepts are to be regularly reviewed with regard to their functioning. Furthermore, the Regulation governs the certification of biofuels, biogas, liquid and gaseous renewable fuels of non-biogenic origin and recycled carbon-containing fuels.

Energy Market

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 8th of December 2023, the Proposal for a Directive and a Regulation on common rules for the internal markets in renewable and natural gases and in hydrogen was adopted (press release). The new Proposal will simplify the use of renewable and low-carbon gases, including hydrogen, while ensuring energy security and affordability for all citizens in the EU. The decarbonization of the gas sector and the development of a hydrogen market will significantly contribute to the EU's efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The agreed framework will facilitate the use of renewable and low-carbon gases in the EU by easing connections to the existing gas network, providing access to it, and allowing discounts on cross-border tariffs and feed-in tariffs for these gases. Additionally, a certification system for low-carbon gases, including hydrogen, will be established, along with a market design. Consumer rights and protections will also be reinforced.

Proposal: On the 15th of December 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Directive and a Regulation on common rules for the internal markets in renewable and natural gases and in hydrogen. (press release)

Problem: In order to reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable energy sources, it is necessary to transit the gas sector towards low-carbon and renewable gas. Fossil gas constitutes around 95 per cent of today’s gaseous fuels consumed in the EU, and gaseous fuels account for roughly 22 per cent of the total EU energy consumption today. Therefore, it is necessary to create a market design which removes existing regulatory barriers and creates cost-effective transition conditions. Increasing energy prices showed that the resilience of the European energy system is increasingly important as the EU energy system integrates more decentralised renewable energy.

Objective: This Directive aims to facilitate the penetration of renewable and low-carbon gases into the energy system. Therefore, it addresses following areas: (1) low level of customer engagement and protection in the green gas retail market, (2) hydrogen infrastructure and hydrogen markets, (3) Renewable and low-carbon gases in the existing gas infrastructure and markets, and energy security, (4) network planning, and (5) security of supply and storage.

Subject matter: In order to address (1) the low level of customer engagement, the green gas retail market shall be enabled to empower customers to make renewable and low-carbon choices. Therefore, customers shall be provided with sufficient information on their energy consumption. Member states should also take measures to protect vulnerable and energy poor customers. To overcome (2) the barriers in the hydrogen market, a harmonized system of terminology and certification of low hydrogen and low carbon fuels shall be implemented. For (3) accessing the gas wholesale market and mitigating trading barriers, costs for cross-border trade shall be abolished as well as a revision of the gas quality rules regarding the access to LNG terminals. (4) For a well-coordinated planning and operation of the EU energy section, the EU-wide ten-year network development plan (TYNDP) and national network development plan (NDP) need to be better coordinated and linked. It shall allow transnational exchange of information on transmission system usage. (5) To increase the resilience of the EU energy system, member states shall be required to make storages part of their security of supply risks assessments. Moreover, this Directive shall enable conditions to deployment of voluntary joint procurements of gas stocks to be used in case of an emergency. Furthermore, the Directive and the Regulation focus specifically on provisions which require additional resources for ACER (Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators) and DG Energy. The Regulation and Directive shall apply from 2023 onwards.

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Proposal: On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Council Directive on restructuring the Union framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity. (press release)

Problem: Since the adoption of an EU "Energy Taxation Directive" in 2003, the underlying climate and energy policy framework has fundamentally changed and the Directive is no longer in line with the EU's climate and energy objectives.

Objective: The proposed Directive aims to ensure that the Tax Directive plays a direct role in supporting Just Transition by using the Directive to create a tax structure that eliminates the disadvantage of clean technologies and introduces higher taxes on inefficient and polluting fuels. Increased taxes will complement carbon pricing through emissions trading by switching from a quantity-based to an energy content-based taxation.

Subject matter: To implement energy content-based taxation, a ranking of energy products is to be established. For this purpose, energy products (used as fuel or heating fuel and electricity) are to be divided into categories and ranked according to their environmental performance. As a basis, the taxation is calculated in Euro/gigajoule on the basis of the lower net heat unit of the energy products and electric power. The classification is divided into four groups: (1) Conventional fossil fuels, such as gas, oil, and gasoline, which are to be taxed at the highest rate; (2) Fossil-based fuels, but which are less harmful and can contribute to decarbonization in the short and medium term; (3) Sustainable but not advanced biofuels; and (4) The electric power, advanced biofuels, bioliquids, biogases, and hydrogen from renewable sources, which are to be taxed at the lowest rate. Member states are required to comply with the established minimum tax amounts for each group. The minimum tax amounts start at zero and increase each year by one-tenth of the final minimum rate.
Exemptions from taxation apply to: (1) taxation of energy products in intra-EU air transport on cargo-only flights; (2) shipping, as tax rates applicable within the EU may be applied to or exempted from shipping outside the EU, depending on the nature of the activity; (3) charities entitled to reductions, limited to use for non-business purposes; (4) products and electricity used by households recognized as vulnerable, which will be exempt for a maximum period of ten years after the entry into force of this Directive; (5) taxable products used under fiscal control in the framework of pilot projects for the technological development of more environmentally friendly products or in connection with fuels from renewable energy sources.
Member States shall be obliged to adopt the necessary laws, regulations and administrative provisions by 31st of December 2022. The minimum levels of taxation laid down in this Directive are to be adjusted annually from 1st of January 2024 to take account of the changes in the harmonized index of consumer prices excluding energy and unprocessed food published by Eurostat.

Circular Economy Package

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 5th of December 2023, the Proposal for a Regulation establishing a framework for setting eco-design requirements for sustainable products and repealing Directive 2009/125/EC was adopted (press release). The new law builds on the existing Ecodesign Directive. It will allow performance and information requirements to be progressively set for key products on the EU market. The new regulation also includes novel measures to end the wasteful and environmentally damaging practice of destroying unsold consumer goods. Companies must take action to prevent this practice and the co-legislators have introduced a direct ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and footwear.

Proposal: On the 30th of March 2022, the Commission published a proposal for a Regulation establishing a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for sustainable products (press release).

Problem: Globally, half of all greenhouse gas emissions and 90 per cent of biodiversity loss are caused by extracting and processing primary raw materials. In order for the EU to succeed in the transition to a resource-efficient, climate-neutral and pollution-free circular economy, it is necessary that the EU takes up a new approach to the way products are designed, made and used.

Objective: The main objectives of this Regulation are to reduce the negative environmental impacts of products during their life cycle and to improve the functioning of the internal market. This Regulation also contributes to the objectives of the EU's industrial policy, which aims to increase the supply of and demand for sustainable goods, promote sustainable production and ensure a level playing field for products sold in the internal market.

Subject matter: This proposal establishes a framework for setting ecodesign requirements based on the sustainability and circular economy aspects listed in the Circular Economy Action Plan. These requirements include durability and reliability, reusability, upgradability, repairability, and the possibility of maintenance and refurbishment, the presence of substances of concern, energy, and resource efficiency and recycled content. Only a few sectors, such as food, feed and pharmaceuticals, are exempt from this Regulation. A new digital product passport aims to provide information on the environmental sustainability of products. The passport can help consumers and businesses make informed choices when buying products. It can also help authorities to better carry out verifications and controls. In addition, this proposal provides for a general obligation of transparency for economic operators disposing of unsold consumer products. It also provides for the possibility to adopt delegated acts to prohibit economic operators from destroying unsold consumer products.

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Non-legislative, Q4 2021.

Biodiversity and Toxic-Free Environment Package

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Non-legislative Act: On the 25th of March 2021, the Commission published an Action Plan to promote organic products. (Press release)

Problem: Farmers in particular are at the forefront of the fight against climate change. They are particularly affected by the consequences of climate change and biodiversity loss, while unsustainable agricultural practice remains a major driver of biodiversity loss.

Objective: With the help of this Action plan, at least 25 per cent of the agricultural land in the EU shall be farmed organically by 2030 and a significant increase in organic aquaculture is to be achieved. The aim is to reconcile food production with environmental protection while spurring investment and sustainable production.

Subject matter: To accomplish the goal, the Commission wants to encourage more farmers to cultivate sustainably and, as a result, to promote the consumption of organic food. In addition, at least 30 percent of the funding for research and innovation activities in agriculture, forestry and rural areas shall be allocated to topics related to the organic sector. Furthermore all member states shall develop national strategies. In doing so, member states should outline how they intend to contribute to the EU-wide targets by conducting comprehensive analyses of the sector and setting appropriate measures, incentives, clear deadlines and national targets. The Commission will support member states in the process and will monitor the progress. The Action plan is set up for the years 2021 to 2027. During this period, 23 measures are to be implemented to achieve the targets. In spring 2021, the Commission aims to present new strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture.

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional agreement): On the 6th of December 2022, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains. Thereby, new due diligence rules for companies are introduced for a number of products. Hence, companies must ensure certain goods do not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. The original Proposal by the Commission included the commodities of cattle, palm oil, coffee, cocoa and timber (as well as their derivates). The adopted version now additionally includes rubber, charcoal and printed paper products. To enter into force, the regulation must now be officially adopted by the Parliament and the Council. Subsequently, operators are given 18 months to implement the new rules. (press release).

Proposal: On the 17th of November 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on the making available on the Union market as well as export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation (press release).

Problem: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 420 million hectares of forest – about 10% of the world’s remaining forests and an area larger than the European Union – have been lost worldwide between 1990 and 2020. The main driver of these processes is agricultural expansion linked to the commodities soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee, and some of their derived products. Moreover, deforestation and forest degradation increase greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing climate change resilience of the affected areas and substantially reducing its biodiversity.

Objective: The proposal aims to implement rules to guarantee that the products that EU citizens buy, use and consume on the EU market do not contribute to global deforestation and forest degradation. Prohibition and obligations of operators and non-SMEs traders shall function as an entry permit for the union market.

Subject Matter: operators and non-SMEs traders shall be obligated to submit a due diligence statement prior to placing commodities and products on the Union market or exporting therefrom. Therefore, operators and non-SMEs traders shall gather all relevant information. This includes geographic coordinates of all the plots of land where the relevant commodities and products were produced. They shall identify and assess the risk of possible non-compliance of relevant commodities and products and, if necessary, mitigate such risks. If there is no access to the relevant information or the risk cannot be mitigated to a negligible level, the operator shall not place the relevant commodities or products on the EU market. Additionally, reference shall be made in the customs declaration to the due diligence statement, which will allow the necessary close cooperation between customs authorities and competent authorities. Traders which are SMEs are required to collect a record of their suppliers and customers, keep that information for at least five years and make such information available to competent authorities upon request. Member states shall be obligated to report on the implementation of the proposed Regulation every year after entry into force.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 17th of November 2023, the Proposal for a Regulation on shipments of waste and amending Regulations (EU) no 1257/2013 and (EU) No 2020/1056 was adopted (press release). This bans the export of plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries. At the same time, modern digitized processes will make it easier to ship waste for recycling within the EU. Enforcement and cooperation in the fight against the illegal trade in waste will also be strengthened.

Proposal: On the 17th of November 2021, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on shipments of waste and amending Regulations (EU) no 1257/2013 and (EU) No 2020/1056 (press release).

Problem: The global trade in waste, which the EU significantly contributes to, has escalated over recent decades, reaching approximately 182 million tonnes in 2018, with an economic value of around 80.5 billion euro. This substantial movement of waste, including exports to non-EU countries and shipments between member states, poses considerable risks to human health and the environment, particularly when the waste is not properly managed or controlled. Concurrently, these wastes, often holding positive economic value as secondary raw materials, can replace and reduce reliance on primary materials, thus presenting both challenges and opportunities in waste management.

Objective: The Proposal seeks to enhance the protection of the environment and public health from the adverse impacts of unsound transboundary shipments of waste. This revision directly addresses the issues identified in the WSR evaluation and aligns with the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan. The goals include facilitating the shipment of waste within the EU for reuse and recycling, preventing the EU from exporting its waste challenges to third countries, and effectively tackling illegal waste shipments.

Subject Matter: The Proposal sets out detailed regulations for the export of waste from the EU to third countries. It sets out strict criteria for the classification of waste and for the authorisation of waste shipments to non-OECD countries. The Proposal introduces specific rules for shipments of waste, focussing on different types of waste, including hazardous and non-hazardous substances. It sets out detailed procedures for shipments, including the necessary documentation and authorisations for the different types of waste. A key element is the introduction of an electronic data exchange system for waste shipments. This system should increase the efficiency and transparency of waste movements and enable better monitoring and control of cross-border waste flows. To this end, the proposal includes measures to prevent illegal waste shipments and outlines penalties for non-compliance. Additionally, the European Commission is to be authorised to adopt delegated acts to amend the annexes to the Proposal. This flexibility makes it possible to react to changes in the area of waste movements and international agreements, such as the Basel Convention and OECD decisions.

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Gesetzgebungsverfahren abgeschlossen (vorläufige Einigung): Am 16. November 2023 wurde der Vorschlag für eine Richtlinie über den strafrechtlichen Schutz der Umwelt und zur Ersetzung der Richtlinie 2008/99/EG angenommen (Pressemitteilung).

Proposal: On the 15th of December 2021, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law and replacing Directive 2008/99/EG (press release).

Problem: The necessity for revising the EU legislation on environmental crime arises from the limited effectiveness of Directive 2008/99/EC on the ground. The Commission’s 2019/20 evaluation revealed low numbers of successfully investigated and sentenced environmental crime cases, with sanction levels too low to act as a deterrent. Additionally, there were significant enforcement gaps across member states in the police, prosecution, and criminal courts. These issues were compounded by deficiencies in resources, specialised knowledge, awareness, prioritisation, and cooperation, along with the lack of comprehensive national strategies and poor coordination between administrative and criminal law enforcement. Furthermore, the absence of reliable, accurate, and complete statistical data on environmental crime proceedings hindered effective monitoring and evaluation of measures.

Objective: The Proposal seeks to improve the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions and clarify or eliminate vague terms to enhance the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions. Additionally, it aims to foster cross-border investigation and prosecution, which leads to the need of improving collection and dissemination of statistical data. In general, the Directive seeks to ensure the implementation of effective, dissuasive, and proportionate sanction types for environmental crime by, for example, enhancing national enforcement chains.

Subject Matter: The Proposal focuses on several key areas to enhance the response to environmental crimes within the EU. Central to this is the revision of the Directive's scope to improve the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions. The proposal suggests refining the definition of environmental crime in Article 3, adding new categories, and removing annexes for greater legal clarity. This approach is intended to enhance cross-border cooperation and adapt to new environmental challenges under the European Green Deal. Clarity in legal definitions is a primary objective, with a focus on defining or eliminating vague terms such as 'substantial damage'. The proposal seeks to add more offences based on the concept of risk, addressing cases where harm can be proven, even if actual damage has not occurred. This includes offences related to the illegal handling of hazardous waste and the trade in endangered species. Sanctioning is another crucial aspect, aiming for effective, dissuasive, and proportionate sanctions. The proposal includes minimum maximum sanction levels, aggravating circumstances, and a requirement to consider the financial situation of legal persons when imposing fines. These revisions aim to ensure that penalties are not only more uniform across the EU but also more effectively deter and punish environmental crimes. Fostering cross-border investigation and prosecution is addressed through a package of provisions promoting harmonised investigative tools and mandating cooperation through EU agencies like Europol, Eurojust, and OLAF. The Proposal advocates for better collection and sharing of statistical data on environmental crimes. This is expected to be achieved through standardised data collection methods across member states.

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Non-legislative Act: On the 12th of May 2021, the Commission published a Communication in which it presented an Action plan to make air, water and soil pollution-free. (Press release)

Problem: Climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity pose a threat to the health of humans, animals and ecosystems. This threat comes in various of forms, such as water scarcity, mass extinction of species, or causing diseases. Therefore, it is necessary that the pollution of air, water and soil, as well as consumer products in the EU can be better monitored, prevented and eliminated.

Objective: The goal of the action plan is to realize the zero-pollution vision for 2050 and in this way create synergies of already existing strategies. This is to reduce the pollution of air, water and soil to a level that is no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems and respects the acceptable limits for our planet, creating a pollution-free environment

Subject matter: As a first step, this action plan sets key targets to be achieved by 2030 to accelerate the reduction of pollutants. In addition, more key actions are outlined for the period 2021-2024 to complement. To implement the target, a "zero pollution hierarchy" shall be established. This shall serve to ensure that EU environmental policy is based on the principles of care and prevention, the principle of tackling environmental damage primarily at its source, and the polluter pays principle. This means that environmental pollution should first be prevented at source. If this is not possible, they should nevertheless be minimized, and if pollution has already occurred, it must be eliminated and the damage caused compensated. By 2025, the Commission is to take stock of the implementation of the action plan.

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional agreement): On the 9th of November 2023, the Proposal for a Regulation on nature restoration was adopted (press release). The law initiates a process for the permanent and sustainable recovery of nature in all EU land and marine areas. The overarching objective to be achieved at EU level is for Member States to take restoration measures covering at least 20 per cent of the EU's land areas and 20 per cent of the EU's marine areas by 2030.

Proposal: On the 22nd of June 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on nature restoration (press release).

Problem: The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems continue at an alarming rate, despite EU and international action, continue to harm people, the economy, and the climate. The 2022 IPCC report further highlighted that there is solely a brief, rapidly closing window to secure a livable future. Additionally, current geo-political developments have underlined the need to safeguard food security and the resilience of food systems. There is a need to address vulnerabilities, such as dependencies on imports, as well as to accelerate the transition towards food systems that are sustainable and resilient.

Objective: The key premise of the proposal is to contribute to the continuous, long-term and sustained recovery of biodiverse and resilient nature across the EU’s land and sea areas by restoring ecosystems and to contribute to achieving Union climate mitigation and climate adaptation objectives and meet its international commitments. Specific objectives mention the urgency to restore degraded ecosystems across the EU to good condition by 2050, and put them on the path to recovery by 2030. Once restored, ecosystems should be maintained in good condition. Thus, the Commission lays ground for legally binding targets to restore and maintain ecosystems in good condition. Establishing an effective framework will ensure implementation in particular by the obligation for the member states to assess ecosystems and to set up a National Restoration Plan, as well as for reporting and review.

Subject Matter: The implementation of the proposal will be monitored through restoration and re-establishment measures put in place by the member states. The condition and conservation status of ecosystems will additionally be recorded at national and/or regional level. Between 2022 and 2023, the Commission shall collaborate with the EEA and the member states to develop a methodology for assessing the condition of ecosystems for which monitoring and baselines are not yet available. Moreover, member states will be allowed guidance on restoration measures and restoration management practices by the Commission until 2024. After the regulations’ entry into force, the Commission shall adopt a uniform format for the National Restoration Plans and a reporting format. Member states shall start assessing the ecosystems in terms of areas of the ecosystem in good condition, in degraded condition, that were lost over the last 70 years and areas that would be most suitable for re-establishment of the ecosystem. The EEA will further develop formats and information system for National Restoration Plans, in addition to a format and information system for periodical reporting on the measures implemented and on the condition of ecosystems and the species populations.

  Sustainable and Smart Mobility

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Legislative procedure completed (provisional agreement): On the 8th of June 2023, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on promoting intelligent transport systems. The revised Directive aims to connect timely travel data for multimodal navigation services. The framework is intended to enable more efficient traffic and mobility management across all modes of transport. To enter into force, the provisional agreement needs to be formally adopted by the Parliament and the Council (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of December 2021, the Commission presented a Proposal for a Directive amendment on the framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in road transport and for their interfaces with other transport modes. (press release)

Problem: Digitalization is crucial factor for the sustainable change in the transport and mobility sector. The entire transport system can be made seamless and more efficient through digitalization. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in particular play an essential role in this. ITS have the potential to significantly improve road safety, traffic efficiency and driving comfort. However, the current Directive does not go far enough and the lack of interoperability and coordination in ITS deployment results in uneconomic risks for ITS deployments.

Objective: This revision of the Directive aims to facilitate the deployment of ITS and thus make an important contribution to the Green Deal objective of efficient, safe, sustainable, intelligent and resilient mobility. New sustainable transport and mobility services should reduce congestion and pollution and improve road safety. Efficiently coordinated data exchange should ensure that transport chains are made more sustainable and efficient.

Subject matter: To ensure a coordinated and effective deployment of ITS services, binding requirements and specifications are to be imposed on the member states. These are regulations on conformity assessment and market surveillance, as well as on data provision. For the provision of data, the NAPs (National Action Plans) in particular are to function as a significant component of the common European Mobility Data Space. 12 months after the entry into force of the Directive, the Member States shall be obliged to submit a report on the implementation of the Directive. Thereafter, Member States shall submit implementation reports every three years. At the latest 18 months after the entry into force of the Directive, Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with it.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 18th of December 2023, the Regulation on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network and is therefore revising Regulation (EU) 1315/2013 was adopted (press release). The provisional agreement maintains the overarching objective of developing coherent, interconnected and high-quality transport infrastructure across the EU, taking into account the different starting points in the member states and their priorities and approaches to greener transport. The provisional agreement also takes into account the available financial resources of the member states and the investment needs for infrastructure development, which could be considerable, especially in the comprehensive TEN-T network.  It covers all modes of transport, i.e. rail infrastructure, road transport, urban nodes and air infrastructure. In addition, transport links with neighboring third countries will be improved by integrating Ukraine, Moldova and the six partners in the Western Balkans into the newly established European transport corridors.

Amendment: In the context of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, the Commission has adapted its Proposal from December 2021. Accordingly, four European transport corridors are to be extended to the territory of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova - including the ports of Mariupol and Odessa. At the same time, the amended proposal removes Russia and Belarus from the TEN-T maps, as cooperation with these countries is not currently in the EU's interest. Finally, the proposal specifies that newly built lines in member states that share a land border with another member state must be built with the European standard gauge. The member states are requested to plan the conversion of existing railroad lines to the European standard gauge as far as this is economically justified (press release).

Proposal: On the 14th of December 2021, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network and is therefore revising Regulation (EU) 1315/2013. (press release)

Problem: The current Regulation shows insufficient and incomplete TEN-T infrastructure standards and a lack of integration of standards for alternative fuels infrastructure. Moreover, it doesn’t offer a sufficient network connectivity to all regions and a comprehensive safety and reliability of the TEN-T infrastructure.

Objective: The aim of the TEN-T Regulation is to build an effective EU-wide and multimodal network of rail, inland waterways, short sea shipping routes and roads which are linked to urban nodes, maritime and inland ports, airports and terminals across the EU. Therefore, this Regulation aims at reaching four main objectives: (1) Making transport greener by providing appropriate infrastructure, (2) Facilitating seamless and efficient transport, promoting multimodality and interoperability between TEN-T modes and better integration of urban nodes into the network, (3) increasing the resilience of TEN-T to climate change and other natural hazards or human-made disasters, and (4) improving the efficiency of the TEN-T governance tools.

Subject matter: The four objectives are taken up in each transport sector. Thus, sector-specific measures are being required. This includes a general greater use of sustainable modes of transport, an accessibility and connectivity of all regions of the Union and removing infrastructure quality and digitalization gaps between the member states. For a seamless and feasible transition, interim targets for 2030 and 2040 have been set. The trans-European transport network shall be gradually developed in three steps: the completion of a core network by the 31st December 2030, of an extended core network by 31st December 2040 and the comprehensive network by 31st December 2050. Concrete measures for the rail network are to ensure that railway transport infrastructure shall be fully electrified until the end of 2050 and until the end of 2040, the prevailing minimum line speed for passenger trains shall be 160 km/h. The Waterway transport Infrastructure is to be improved to the effect that canals and rivers shall ensure good navigation conditions, unhindered for example by water levels, for a minimum number of days per year. For the maritime infrastructure, alternative fuels infrastructure are to be deployed in maritime ports and maritime ports shall be connected with the rail and road infrastructure. The air transport infrastructure requires a good working connection of the airports to the long-distance rail network. Member states shall be required to develop Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans to promote zero-emission mobility and to increase and improve public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling by the end of 2025. With the help of the European Transport Corridors, the coordinated implementation of parts of the trans-European transport network shall be facilitated, and it shall improve cross-border links.

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Non-legislative Act: On the 14. December 2021 the European Commission published a Communication on an Action plan to boost long distance cross-border passenger rail (press release).

Problem: Rail transport, as one of the most environmentally and climate-friendly modes of transport, is at the centre of efforts to make the Union's mobility system more eco-friendly as part of the Green Deal. Nevertheless, the potential of rail transport has not yet been fully exhausted, especially in cross-border traffic.

Objective: Using a two-year plan, the action plan aims to better exploit the untapped potential of rail transport. The overarching goal is to make cross-border rail transport a much more attractive travel option for Europeans.

Subject Matter: Between 2001 and 2016, regulatory packages for rail transport in the Union have already been adopted to create a single European railroad area. The action plan aims to further improve and accelerate this progress. Thus, the technical specifics of cross-border interoperability shall be further developed and accelerated. In addition, the Europe-wide infrastructure for rail passenger transport is to be expanded and strengthened by revising the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Regulation. Accordingly, more ambitious standards and implementation deadlines, completion of the core network by 2030 and increased rail connections to core EU airports are to be incorporated into the regulation. The networks themselves shall be used more efficiently through improved coordination of capacity allocations. Sufficient availability of rail vehicles is to be ensured through the possibility of targeted funding, for example under InvestEU. Furthermore, the training and certification of train drivers and other rail personnel is to be adapted as part of the action plan. In addition to increased incentives for career starters, further training and retraining, the legal framework for train drivers is to be revised and simplified in order to prevent a shortage of qualified workers in this sector. Access to the rail network for passenger services, which has so far been hampered by track access charges levied by infrastructure managers, is to be made easier overall and priced appropriately. Another focus of the action plan is user-friendly ticketing and easier access to the rail system. To this end, data exchange and commercial agreements between mobility providers will be improved. Furthermore, the role of young people shall be strengthened, for example by changing the Erasmus reimbursement rules which encourage the use of sustainable transport modes to Erasmus exchange destinations. Finally, to create a level playing field with other transport modes, the incentives of a CO2 pricing will be implemented quickly as part of the "Fit for 55" package.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 18th of December 2023, Regulation on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, with respect to their emissions and battery durability (Euro 7) and repealing Regulations (EC) No 715/2007 and (EC) No 595/2009 was adopted (press release). Also known as "Euro 7" for short, the legislation also regulates particulates from brakes and tires for all vehicles for the first time. Limit values for tire abrasion were set and compliance with emission limits was guaranteed for twice as long as before. The requirements for the durability of batteries have been defined for electric vehicles. The reduction in exhaust emissions for cars and vans is lower than originally proposed, while exhaust emissions from trucks and buses will continue to be significantly reduced.

Proposal: On the 10th of November 2022, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, with respect to their emissions and battery durability (Euro 7) and repealing Regulations (EC) No 715/2007 and (EC) No 595/2009 (press release).

Problem: Air pollution remains a major environmental and health risk in Europe. Particularly at risk is a significant proportion of the EU's urban population, which is exposed to concentrations of pollutants above the limits previously set by the Union. Road transport is a major contributor to air pollution. In the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, significant supply chain bottlenecks and rising energy and raw material costs also pose a challenge to the automotive industry. Current difficulties for the sector include the complexity of vehicle emission standards, outdated vehicle pollution limits and inadequate control of vehicle emissions in the real world. Without change, low levels of road transport pollutants cannot be achieved.

Objective: The overall objective of the initiative is to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and a high level of environmental and health protection in the EU. The first objective is to be achieved by setting appropriate, cost-effective and future-proof rules for vehicle emissions, while the second objective relies on the further reduction of air pollutant emissions from road transport. Specifically, the Commission proposes to reduce the complexity of the current Euro emission standards, set up-to-date limit values for all relevant air pollutants and improve the control of emissions in practice.

Subject Matter: The Commission will ensure the implementation of the measures concerned through centralised direct management by its own services, in particular the JRC for technical and scientific support. However, it will rely on extensive data collection from various possible sources, including member states, car manufacturers and national approval authorities. Platforms such as the Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) and the Forum will regularly discuss issues related to the implementation of the Euro 7 standard, while member states will be required to report to the Commission on the sanctions they have implemented. By 2030, the Commission will be informed by the member states of the application of the type-approval procedures laid down in this Regulation. On the basis of this information, the Commission shall report to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the new Regulation. This proposal shall be implemented in the framework of the internal market and climate change programmes. Controls/risks and mitigation measures will be covered by the existing internal control framework, so no specific measures are required beyond the application of the Financial Regulation. Finally, in addition to the application of the Financial Regulation to prevent fraud and irregularities, the strengthened requirements for emission standards foreseen in this proposal will be accompanied by increased monitoring of emissions throughout the lifetime of a vehicle.

European Commission Work Programme 2020

The European Green Deal

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Non-legislative-Act: On the 11th of December 2019, the Commission published a Communication on the European Green Deal (press release).

Problem: The rapid progress of climate change requires ambitious action in addressing climate and environmental challenges. Every year, the temperature of the atmosphere rises, one million of the eight million species on the planet are in danger of disappearing, and forests and oceans are being polluted and destroyed.

Objective: The European Green Deal is a new growth strategy to make the EU a fair and prosperous society with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. The overarching goal is to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions in the Union by 2050 and to decouple economic growth from resource use. Other key targets include: (1) Ambitious climate change targets for 2030 and 2050; (2) Supply of clean, affordable and secure energy; (3) Mobilization of industry for a clean and circular economy; (4) Energy- and resource-efficient construction and renovation; (5) Zero-pollutant target for a pollution-free environment; (6) Conserve and restore ecosystems and biodiversity; (7) "From farm to table." A Fair, Healthy and Environmentally Friendly Food System; (8) Speed up the transition to sustainable and smart mobility. The Green Deal is intended to serve as a Roadmap to make the EU economy more sustainable. It includes some 49 planned measures to promote the efficient use of resources.

Subject matter: The European Green Deal covers all sectors of the economy - transport, energy, agriculture and buildings, as well as the steel, cement, ICT, textile and chemical industries. To achieve the goal of becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, the Green Deal brings together various strategies and action plans. To finance the Green Deal, an investment plan is to be presented by the Commission in early 2020. In addition, the issue of social justice in climate protection should not be neglected, so a mechanism for a just transition will particularly support regions that are heavily dependent on very CO2-intensive activities.

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Legislative procedure completed: On 30th of June 2021, the Regulation establishing a European Climate Change Act was published in the Official Journal and entered into force 20 days after publication. Already on 21 April 2021, the three EU institutions reached an informal agreement in a trilogue procedure (press release). According to this, in addition to the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, the EU's climate policy framework is to be strengthened by, among other things, the following elements: Commitment to achieve negative emissions after 2050, establishment of a European Climate Council as an independent scientific advisory body, stricter rules for adaptation to climate change, etc.

Proposal: On 4 March 2022, the Commission presented a Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of a European Climate Change Act.

Problem: In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, net CO2 emissions worldwide must be reduced to zero by 2050. In order to achieve the EU's resulting goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, binding regulations on greenhouse gas reduction are needed.

Objective: The Regulation makes the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 binding for the entire EU. Net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU must be reduced by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Previously, a reduction target of only 40 percent applied.

Subject matter: The Fit for 55 package, which provides for revisions of the relevant climate and energy regulations, serves to implement the Union's new climate target for 2030. Among other things, it includes new rules for renewable energy, energy efficiency, land use, energy taxation, CO2 emission standards for light commercial vehicles, task sharing and the emissions trading system. However, this Regulation itself does not set any sectoral targets, economic sectors are only invited to prepare roadmaps to achieve the overall goal of climate neutrality by 2050. In addition to avoiding GHG emissions, emitters are also supposed to remove already emitted GHG from the atmosphere. This is intended to offset their emissions in sectors where reductions are particularly difficult. However, to ensure that certain sectors reduce their GHG emissions sufficiently by 2030, the contribution of GHG removals to the 2030 climate target will be capped at 225 megatonne (Mt) CO2 equivalent net. For monitoring purposes, in line with Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, the Commission is to present, if necessary, a legislative proposal to amend this Regulation no later than six months after the first global stocktake in 2023 (every five years thereafter) and to set interim climate targets for 2040. Prior to this, the Commission shall review and monitor the implementation of the Regulation by 23 September 2023.

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Offshore renewable energy strategy: On 19th of November 2020, the European Commission presented Communication for a Strategy for offshore renewable energy. In the strategy, published as a Communication, it proposes to increase Europe's offshore wind energy capacity from the current 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050. The Commission estimates that investment of nearly 800 billion Euro will be needed by 2050 to meet its proposed targets. The Commission plans to ensure that the revision of the State Aid Guidelines for Energy and Environmental Protection and the Renewable Energy Directive facilitate the cost-effective use of offshore renewable energy (press release).

Methane Strategy: On 14th of October 2020, the European Commission adopted a methane Strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the second-largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, reducing methane gas emissions is essential to achieving the EU's goal of climate neutrality by 2050. The Commission plans to work with the EU's international partners and industry to reduce emissions along the supply chain. Therefore, the EU methane strategy will focus on more accurate measurement and reporting of methane emissions and the introduction of effective measures to reduce them (press release).

Energy systems integration strategy: On 8th of July 2020, the European Commission presented a Strategy for integrating energy systems. With the help of the strategy, an interconnection of different energy sources, infrastructures and consumption sectors is to be created. This is to be achieved through the creation of a cycle-oriented energy system, greater electrification and the strengthening of clean fuels. The strategy contains a total of 38 concrete measures (press release).

Hydrogen strategy: On 8th of July 2020, the European Commission presented a hydrogen Strategy for a climate-neutral Europe. Hydrogen has the potential to support the decarbonisation of industry, transport, power generation and buildings. Therefore, the strategy primarily aims to promote the development of renewable hydrogen, which is mainly produced with the help of wind and solar energy. However, in the short and medium term, other forms of low-CO2 hydrogen will also be promoted in order to rapidly reduce emissions and support the development of a viable market. Because of this, the strategy is being implemented in three stages (press release).

Financing the Sustainable Transition

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Non-legislative Act: On 14 January 2020, the Commission presented a Communication for an European Green Deal Investment Plan, in other words the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan (press releasepress release).

Problem: As part of the European Green Deal growth strategy, the Union has committed itself to the goal of becoming the world's first climate-neutral economy by 2050. To achieve this goal, substantial investments are needed, both from the EU and the public sector of the Member States as well as from the private sector. An additional 260 billion euros must be raised annually to achieve the 2030 climate and energy targets.

Objective: The Investment Plan aims to mobilise public investment. Through the EU's financial instruments (in particular InvestEU), private funds should be unlocked and leading to investments of at least 1 trillion euros.

Subject matter: To implement the Investment Plan, it is based on three dimensions: (1) Financing: Over the next 10 years, 1 trillion euros is to be mobilised for sustainable financing. This is to be financed by EU budgetary resources, the EUInvest Fund, the JustTransition Fund and from the Innovation Fund and the Modernisation Fund. The European Investment Bank (EIB) serves as the key institution. It uses its own funds as well as EU budgetary funds under various programmes and facilities to finance climate change and environmental investments both inside and outside the EU. (2) Create conditions: Create incentives for public and private investments. In particular, InvestEU should help spread sustainable practices among private and public investors. The EU taxonomy is to make it easier for private investors to invest sustainably. Public investment should be encouraged through green budgeting by member states, minimum "green" criteria or targets for public procurement and by taking energy efficiency into account. (3) Practical support: The Commission should support public authorities and project promoters in the planning, design and implementation of sustainable projects.

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Legislative procedure completed: On 1st of July 2021, the Regulation establishing the Just Transition Fund (JTF) entered into force. After the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement in December 2020 (press release). The total budget of the fund is 17.5 billion euro, making it a key element of the European Green Deal and the first pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism. The compromise includes, among other things, a budget commitment for the years 2021-2023, as well as a slightly expanded funding margin and the exclusion of fossil fuel subsidies. A review clause is also included, as well as a strengthened reference to the Union's energy and climate targets and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Proposal: On 14 January 2020, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation establishing the Just Transition Fund (JTF).

Problem: The most vulnerable are the most exposed to the negative impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. At the same time, managing the transition will lead to significant structural changes. Citizens and workers will be affected in different ways, and not all member states, regions and cities are in the same position or equally equipped for the transition.

Objective: The mechanism provides targeted support to mobilise at least 100 billion euros over the period 2021-2027 in the most affected regions to cushion the socio-economic impact of transition. The mechanism will enable necessary investments to help workers and communities dependent on fossil fuel-related jobs.

Subject matter: The Just Transition Mechanism consists of three main sources of funding: (1) Just Transition Fund, (2) Special Transition Scheme under InvestEU, (3) Loan Facility with the European Investment Bank for the public sector. The total funds available amount to 7.5 billion euro (in 2018 prices) under the Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027). The post-COVID-19 Recovery Support Instrument (NextGenerationEU) provides a further 10 billion euro (in 2018 prices). If funds are increased after 31st December 2024, the amount of financial support will be adjusted based on member states' GHG emissions. To be eligible for funds from the JTF, member states must prepare territorial plans on how they will use the JTF to create a sustainable and equitable transition. Member states that do not commit to implementing the 2050 carbon neutrality target in their plans will only receive 50 per cent of the available funds. Investments include (a) investments in SMEs, research and innovation activities, new technologies; (b) renewable energy, sustainable local mobility, modernisation of district heating networks; (c)digitalisation, rehabilitation and decontamination of industrial sectors, promotion of the circular economy; and (d) upskilling and retraining of workers and jobseekers and their social inclusion. By 30th June 2025, the Commission will review the implementation of the JTF and submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council, including legislative proposals as appropriate.

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Non-legislative Act: On the 6th of July 2021, the Commission published a Communication on the Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy (press release).

Problem: Based on the European Green Deal, the EU has made a number of ambitious commitments. As a result, additional investment of an estimated 350 billion euros per year is needed this decade to meet the 2030 emissions reduction target through energy systems alone, plus an additional 130 billion euros for other environmental targets.

Objective: The strategy aims to stimulate investment for the EU's transition to a sustainable economy, with greater involvement of SMEs. In doing so, the framework for sustainable finance aims primarily at channelling private financial flows into relevant economic activities.

Subject matter: The strategy comprises six packages of measures: (1) Expanding the existing toolkit for sustainable finance to facilitate access to finance for transition. (2) Better engaging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and consumers, using the appropriate tools and incentives to access finance for transition. (3) Increasing the resilience of the economic and financial system to sustainability risks, (4) Enhancing the contribution of the financial sector to sustainability. (5) Ensuring the integrity of the EU financial system and monitoring its orderly transition to sustainability, and (6) developing international initiatives and standards for sustainable finance and support to EU partner countries.

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Legislative procedure completed: On the 14th of December 2023, the amendment to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. Thereby, companies are now required to report additional social and environmental information (press release).

Proposal: On the 21st of April 2021, the Commission presented a Proposal to amend the Directive regarding corporate sustainability reporting (press release).

Problem: According to the current legal framework from 2014 on the disclosure of non-financial information, companies are required to report on how sustainability aspects affect their business performance, situation and business development ("outside-in perspective"), as well as on how these aspects affect people and the environment ("inside-out perspective"). However, the current legal framework is not sufficient to meet the information needs of users. Some companies from which users want sustainability information do not provide it, and when information is provided by companies, it is often not sufficiently reliable or sufficient to compare companies with each other. Therefore, a unified information provision system is needed. As the information gap prevents investors from sufficiently considering sustainability-related risks in their investment decisions, this could have far-reaching consequences for financial stability and for achieving the Green Deal targets.

Objective: The aim of this proposal is to improve the flow of information on sustainability reporting in the corporate world. In particular, it aims to increase the coherence of corporate sustainability reporting and ensure that comparable and reliable sustainability information is made available to financial firms, investors and the wider public. The accountability and transparency of companies should thus represent an improvement in corporate governance with regard to their impact on people and the environment.

Subject matter: The proposed Directive aims to extend EU sustainability reporting requirements to all large companies and all listed companies. This would mean that nearly 50,000 companies in the EU would have to comply with detailed sustainability reporting standards in the future. The Commission proposes the development of standards for large companies, as well as separate, proportionate standards for SMEs that non-listed SMEs can apply voluntarily. In addition, the proposed Directive will simplify reporting for companies by creating a uniform system of reporting standards. By the 31st of October 2022, the Commission is to adopt initial sustainability reporting standards. The member states are to make arrangements for the implementation of the revised Directive by the 1st of December 2022, so that it can be applied from the 1st of January 2023.

Commission Contribution to COP26 in Glasgow

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Non-legislative Act: On the 17th of September 2020, the Commission proposed a Communication on Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition (press release).

Problem: The average temperature of the Earth in 2019 was about 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The effects of global warming are undisputed: Droughts, storms and other extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. Therefore, a promptness to act is needed to preserve the health, prosperity and well-being of people in Europe and around the world.

Objective: To achieve climate neutrality in the European Union by 2050, emissions reductions of 55 per cent compared to 1990 levels are to be achieved by 2030 with the help of policy measures.

Subject matter: An EU-wide economy-wide target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels requires a series of measures for all sectors of the economy and the introduction of changes to key legal instruments. The measures include (1) transforming the energy system, including buildings, transport and industry. This includes building energy efficiency structures and promoting renewable energy sources. (2) Putting a focus on non-CO2 emissions. Methane, nitrous oxide and so-called F-gases account for almost 20 per cent of EU greenhouse gas emissions and should therefore be reduced by up to 35 percent by 2030 compared to 2015. (3) In the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, forest protection, more sustainable forest management, sustainable (re)afforestation and better soil management should be promoted and (4) an increasing focus should be placed on the role of emissions trading and energy taxation. Therefore, the Emissions Trading System Directive and Energy Taxation Directive shall be revised.

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Non-legislative Act: On 24 February 2021, the Commission published a Communication on the new EU strategy on adaptation to climate change (press release).

Problem: The impacts of climate change are already almost irreversible. Economic losses due to more frequent climate-related weather extremes are increasing. It is estimated that today's economy in the EU would face annual losses of at least 170 billion euro if the earth were to warm by 3 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. However, climate change not only affects the economy, but also people's well-being and health. Climate change has far-reaching consequences both inside and outside the European Union.

Objective: Building on the 2013 Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, the new strategy aims to be more actionable and effective in tackling climate change and creating a climate resilient Union. Therefore, the long-term vision is to become a climate-resilient society by 2050, fully adapted to the inevitable impacts of climate change. To achieve this, all parts of society and all levels of decision-making are to be integrated into this process.

Subject matter: Building a climate-resilient society requires smarter, faster and more systematic adaptation to the realities of climate change. Therefore, with the help of better data on climate-related risks, climate risk assessment should be improved and adaptation measures accelerated. This data should be freely available to all. The European Knowledge Platform for Climate Adaptation "Climate-ADAPT" is to be improved and expanded, and a special observatory for health is to be established. Climate resilience will be prioritised in other relevant policy areas. Cross-cutting focus will therefore be placed on (1) integration of adaptation into budgetary policy, (2) nature-based adaptation solutions and (3) local adaptation measures. Another focus is the readiness for action at the international level. International climate resilience and willingness is to be supported more strongly through the provision of resources, by increasing international funding, and through increased global engagement and exchange in the field of adaptation.

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Non-legislative Act: On 16 July 2021, the Commission published a Communication on the new EU Forest Strategy 2030 (press release).

Problem: Forests are an important resort in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. They serve as carbon sinks and cushion the effects of climate change. However, forests in Europe are exposed to many different pressures.

Objective: The strategy aims to make a significant contribution to the proposed package of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 and aim for climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. In addition, the strategy aims to accelerate the removal of CO2 by natural sinks in accordance with the Climate Change Act.

Subject matter: The strategy contains four main areas of action: (1) To support the socio-economic functions of forests for thriving rural areas and boosting forest-based bio-economy. In this context, the most climate- and biodiversity-friendly forest management practices are to be promoted and resource-efficient wood use in line with the cascade principle is to be supported. In addition, ecotourism shall be promoted sustainably. (2) The Protection, restoration and sustainable management of forests: Concrete measures shall be taken to increase the quantity and quality of forests and to strengthen their protection, restoration and resilience. Through the strategy, the EU commits to strictly protecting primary and old-growth forests, restoring degraded forests and ensuring their sustainable management. The strategy also envisages planting three billion additional trees across Europe by 2030, with full respect for ecological principles. Forest owners and managers who provide alternative ecosystem services are to be supported by implementing a payment scheme. In addition, the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to provide more targeted support for foresters and the sustainable development of forests. (3) Strategic forest monitoring, reporting and data collection: As part of the Forest Strategy, a legislative proposal will be presented to intensify monitoring, reporting and data collection on forests in the EU. (4) Finally, a strong research and innovation agenda to improve knowledge on forests shall be implemented.

Sustainability of Food Systems

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Non-legislative act: On the 20th of May 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on a farm to fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system (press release).

Problem: The COVID 19 pandemic highlighted the enormous importance of a resilient food system that is able to function in any circumstance and provide citizens with sufficient and affordable food at all times. In addition, the interactions between our health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and the Earth's carrying capacity were also highlighted. The increasing challenges posed by the climate crisis also clearly show that our food system is under threat and needs to become more sustainable and resilient.

Objective: At the heart of the Green Deal, the new Farm to Fork strategy aims to open up opportunities for improving our lifestyles, health and protecting the environment. To set global standards in food sustainability, it aims to reduce reliance on pesticides and antimicrobials, reduce overuse of fertilisers, invest in organic farming, improve animal welfare and reverse biodiversity loss. In order to achieve its goal of reducing the environmental and climate footprint of the European food system and strengthening its resilience, it is important to ensure that the food chain from production, transport, and distribution to marketing and consumption has a neutral or positive environmental impact. In addition, food security, nutrition and public health should be guaranteed through universal access to sufficient, nutritious and sustainable food. Furthermore, food prices should be kept affordable while generating a more equitable economic return to the supply chain so that the most sustainable food is also the most affordable.

Subject matter: To accelerate change in this direction and to ensure that all food placed on the EU market is increasingly sustainable, the Commission will propose a legislative initiative setting out a framework for a sustainable food system by the end of 2023. Ensuring sustainable food production requires, among other things, human and financial investment in the actors of the food chain. The shift towards a bio-based circular economy, the use of energy from renewable sources and improved animal welfare are also relevant in this regard. To ensure food security, it is necessary, among other things, to intensify the coordination of a common European response to crises affecting food systems and to develop an emergency plan to guarantee food supply and food security. In addition, sustainable practices in food processing, wholesale, retail, hospitality, and catering services will be promoted, as well as sustainable food consumption. The switch to a healthy and sustainable diet is to be facilitated, among other things, through tax incentives. Food waste is to be reduced, food fraud along the supply chain is to be fought. To enable change, research, innovation, technology, and investment need to be promoted, and advisory services need to be more involved. In order to jointly formulate a sustainable living policy, the Commission calls on all citizens and stakeholders to participate in the public debate.

Decarbonising Energy

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Non-legislative act: On the 8th of July 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on powering a climate-neutral economy through an EU strategy for Energy System Integration (press release).

Problem: In achieving the goals of the European Green Deal, the energy system plays a crucial role. The current energy system is still based on several vertical, parallel energy value chains that rigidly link certain energy resources and certain end-use sectors. However, this model is unsuitable for achieving a climate-neutral economy and leads to significant losses in the form of waste heat and low-energy efficiency.

Objective: This strategy aims to develop a vision on how to accelerate the transition to a more integrated energy system that supports a climate-neutral economy and strengthens energy security. To this end, concrete policy and legislative measures are proposed at EU level to gradually shape a new integrated energy system. Energy system integration comprises three complementary and reinforcing concepts: (1) a more 'circular' energy system, with energy efficiency at its core; (2) more direct electrification of end-use sectors; and (3) the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels for end-use where direct heating or electrification is not possible, inefficient or more expensive.

Subject matter: In order to address the existing barriers to the integration of the energy system, this strategy establishes six pillars with coordinated actions. The first pillar concerns the application of the 'energy efficiency first' principle as a key element of system integration. Better application of the principle includes, among other things, the development of guidelines for the implementation of EU and national legislation across the energy system. The second pillar is the faster electrification of energy demand. Key measures in this area include the 'Renovation Wave' initiative to promote further electrification of building heating and support for the installation of one million charging points by 2025 to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure and integration of new loads. The third pillar includes the promotion of renewable and low-carbon fuels for sectors where decarbonisation is difficult. This will include support for showcase projects of integrated, CO2-neutral industrial clusters, as well as the novel production of fertilisers from renewable hydrogen. Fourthly, energy markets should be geared towards decarbonisation and decentralised resources. Measures to promote a level playing field for all energy sources, as well as to adapt the legal framework for the gas sector and to improve consumer information, will be applied. In fifth place is the goal of a more integrated energy infrastructure, which is to be achieved, among other things, by accelerating investments in intelligent, highly efficient district heating and cooling networks based on renewable energies. Finally, the sixth pillar concerns a digitalised energy system and a framework that promotes innovation. For this, measures such as the adoption of an action plan for the digitalisation of the energy sector and the development of a network code on cybersecurity in the electricity sector are envisaged. Due to the different starting positions of each EU Member State, they will follow different paths towards the goal of system integration, depending on their circumstances, resources, and policy choices.

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Non-legislative act: On the 14th of October 2020 the Commission published a Communication on a renovation wave for Europa for greening our buildings, creating jobs and improving lives (press release).

Problem: With the COVID 19 pandemic, our living space has become the centre of our lives and its vulnerabilities have become more prominent. Most existing buildings in Europe are not energy efficient. They are heated and cooled by fossil fuels and are equipped with outdated technologies and appliances that consume too much energy.

Objective: For the EU to meet its target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and their energy consumption must be significantly reduced. The envisaged building renovations can not only reduce energy costs and emissions, but also open up numerous opportunities and bring far-reaching social, environmental and economic benefits. The aim is to promote comprehensive energy renovations and to at least double the annual rate of energy renovations of residential and non-residential buildings by 2030.

Subject matter: Key principles for building renovation by 2030 and 2050 are: (1) 'energy efficiency first'; (2) affordability; (3) decarbonisation and integration of renewable energy; (4) consideration of the whole life cycle and circular economy; (5) meeting demanding health and environmental standards; (6) addressing the twin challenges of environmental and digital transformation; and (7) addressing aesthetics and architectural quality. Based on a public consultation and its analyses, the Commission has concluded that investment and key actions are crucial to tangibly increase the number and scale of renovations in the following areas: (1) improving information, legal certainty and incentives for public and private owners and tenants; (2) ensuring adequate and targeted financing; (3) building capacity to prepare and implement projects; (4) promoting comprehensive and integrated renovation; (5) empowering the entire construction sector to undertake sustainable renovations; (6) renovations as a measure to combat energy poverty and access to healthy housing; and (7) promoting decarbonisation of heating and cooling. The envisaged measures are intended to promote the renovation of all buildings, but there are three main areas of focus: energy poverty and the most energy inefficient buildings; the renovation of public buildings such as administration, education, and health; and the decarbonisation of heating and cooling. Priority should be given to these areas in terms of policies and funding. To support member states in planning and implementing ambitious renovation measures as part of their building plans, the Commission will present a comprehensive package of policy and regulatory measures. The successful implementation of the building renovation project also requires the mobilisation and involvement of cities, local and regional authorities, stakeholders, and citizens. Thus, building renovation should become a common European project.

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Non-legislative act: On the 19th of November 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on an EU strategy to harness the potential of offshore renewable energy for a climate neutral future (relpressease).

Problem: In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990, according to the intentions of the 2030 Climate Change Target Plan, it is necessary to expand the offshore wind energy industry to the extent that it can be compatible with the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

Objective: The new EU strategy aims to make offshore renewable energy a core part of the European energy system by 2050. Starting from today's installed offshore wind capacity of 12 GM, the EU sets a realistic and achievable target of installing offshore wind capacity of 60 GM and marine energy capacity of 1 GM by 2030 - aiming for installed capacity of 300 GM and 40 GM respectively by 2050.

Subject matter: To make offshore energy a core component of the European energy system, a diversified approach tailored to different situations is needed. There is a need to identify and use a much larger number of sites for offshore renewable energy production and connection to the electricity transmission grid. A holistic approach should be taken. It is also important to ensure that the development of offshore renewable energy is in line with EU environmental policy and legislation and the Integrated Maritime Policy. Key measures for sustainable maritime spatial planning include the promotion of cross-border cooperation, guidance on wind energy development and EU nature legislation, and support for projects with member states and regional organisations aimed at multiple uses of marine space. Another challenge to be met concerns the development of the offshore grid. Key measures will be taken, including the publication of a new EU guide on how to coordinate the distribution of costs and benefits across borders for energy transmission projects combined with power generation projects. Furthermore, a clear EU legal framework for offshore renewable energy needs to be established. The Commission is clarifying the legal framework, in particular with regard to offshore bidding zones for hybrid projects. Other measures in this area include proposing guidelines on cost-benefit sharing for cross-border projects, and amending the legislation on the permitted use of congestion to allow member states more flexibility in the use of congestion rents for hybrid offshore projects. The investment required to implement the new strategy is estimated at up to 800 billion euro. About two-thirds of this will go to financing the associated grid infrastructure, and one-third to offshore generation. In addition, the Commission and the EIB, among others, will work together to support strategic investments in offshore energy through "InvestEU", including higher-risk investments that strengthen the EU's technological leadership. There is also a need to further support research and innovation in offshore projects, as well as to strengthen the pan-European supply and value chain to increase capacity.

Sustainable Production and Consumption

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Non-legislative act: On the 11th of March 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on a new circular economy plan (press release).

Problem: Global consumption of materials such as biomass, fossil fuels, minerals, and metals is expected to double over the next forty years and annual waste generation is projected to increase by 70 per cent by 2050. To achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, economic growth must be decoupled from resource use and the circular economy must be expanded from pioneers to established economic actors.

Objective: The Circular Economy Action Plan aims to accelerate the profound change called for by the European Green Deal. It aims to streamline the regulatory framework and offer perspectives for a sustainable future with new opportunities. The plan includes a package of interlinked initiatives that aim to create a coherent and strong framework for production policies that make sustainable products, services, and business models the norm. Consumption patterns are to be changed so that no waste is generated in the first place.

Subject matter: To implement the framework for sustainable product policy, it is necessary to design sustainable products that are suitable for a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy. To this end, the Commission will propose a legislative initiative on sustainable product policy. This will focus on ensuring that the ecodesign framework can be applied to the widest possible range of products and contribute to the circular economy. Within the framework of this legislative initiative, sustainability principles are to be defined, if necessary, through supplementary legislative proposals. Consumers should in future receive reliable and relevant information about products at the point of sale, for example about their lifespan and the availability of repair services. In production processes by itself, the circularity principle is to be strengthened by, among other things, promoting the use of digital technologies for exploring, tracking and inventorying resources. Electrical and electronic equipment is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU and thus requires a circular economy-focused electronics initiative. The Commission will also propose a new regulatory framework for batteries and vehicles. In the packaging and plastics sector, binding requirements will be tightened and strategies will be developed. With regard to textiles, a comprehensive strategy will be developed to promote, among other things, the sorting, reuse, and recycling of textiles. Furthermore, a strategy for a sustainable built environment will promote the principles of the circular economy throughout the life cycle of buildings, including by promoting measures to improve the durability and adaptability of buildings. With regard to the food value chain, one of the objectives is to reduce food waste. In the area of waste and social policy, the EU's circularity principle is also to be promoted. However, to be truly successful, the transition to a circular, resource-efficient, equitable and climate-neutral economy must also be ensured at the global level, which is why the Union intends to take a leading role in efforts at the global level, for example by ensuring that free trade agreements reflect the broader goals of the circular economy. To assess the effectiveness of the Action Plan, the Commission will strengthen the monitoring of national plans and actions to accelerate the transition to a circular economy as part of the refocusing of the European Semester on a broader sustainability dimension.

Protecting our Environment

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Non-legislative act: On the 20th of May 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (press release).

Problem: Nature and its protection are an essential condition for the health and resilience of societies. The close link between human health and ecosystem health makes the plight of nature a threat to society. The foundations of our economy are also threatened by biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.

Objective: The EU aims to prevent the loss of biodiversity in Europe and to set a good example globally. It aims to contribute to the agreement and adoption of a global post-2020 framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The overarching goal is to restore and adequately protect all the world's ecosystems by 2050.

Subject matter: The EU's protection of nature to date is incomplete and its enforcement insufficient, which is why the EU's network of protected areas needs to be improved and expanded, and an ambitious EU nature restoration plan needs to be developed. To protect the environment and our economy, a coherent network of protected areas should be created. Key EU commitments by 2030 include legal protection of at least 30 per cent of the EU's land and 30 per cent of its marine areas, and strict protection of at least one third of the EU's protected areas, including all remaining primary and virgin forests in the EU. The EU Nature Restoration Plan aims to improve the condition of existing and new protected areas and restore diverse and resilient nature to all landscapes and ecosystems. Concrete commitments by 2030 foreseen by the EU Nature Restoration Plan include reversing the decline of pollinators, reducing the risk and use of chemical and hazardous pesticides by 50 per cent, and planting three billion new trees in the EU. Furthermore, legally binding EU nature restoration targets will be proposed in 2021 following an impact assessment. Cities of 20 000 inhabitants or more are to have a greening plan and the use of chemical pesticides in sensitive areas such as the EU's urban green spaces is to be ended. To enable profound change, a new European biodiversity governance framework will be established to capture commitments and obligations and set a roadmap for their implementation. The strategy will also focus on efforts to implement and enforce EU environmental legislation. To achieve profound change, an integrated and whole-of-society approach is essential as a starting point. This should be done by engaging businesses in biodiversity, investing in nature and improving biodiversity knowledge and education through investment in research programmes. To raise the EU's biodiversity agenda to a global level, external policies such as international maritime policy and trade policy, among others, should be used to promote the EU's goals.

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Legislative procedure completed: The decision was adopted by the Council on the 29th of March 2022 (press release). Council and Parliament have agreed on the following basic preconditions for the priority objectives: Reducing the EU's material and consumption footprint, strengthening environmentally positive incentives and phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, in particular fossil fuel subsidies. In addition, a mid-term review of progress towards the priority thematic objectives in 2024 was included in the 8th Environment Action Programme.

Proposal: On the 14th of October 2020, the Commission published a Proposal for a Decision establishing a General Union Environment Action Programme for the period up to 2030.

Problem: The Union's environmental policy has brought significant benefits in recent decades, as this area has increasingly been shaped by an ambitious long-term vision, targets, and strategic framework strategies that will effectively reduce environmental pressures in the future, nevertheless, the continuing environmental challenges require further determined action in the EU and globally.

Objective: The proposal aims to establish a general programme of action in the field of the environment policy for the period up to 31 December 2030 ("8th Environment Action Programme"). This is intended to accelerate the Union's transition to a carbon-neutral, resource-efficient, clean and circular economy in an equitable and to enable compliance with the environmental goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The 8th Environmental Action Programme (8th EAP) is to set priority thematic targets in the areas of climate neutrality, adaptation to climate change, protection, and restoration of biodiversity, circular economy, zero-pollutant target and reduction of the environmental impact of production and consumption. Furthermore, the prerequisites for the realisation of the long-term and priority thematic goals are to be identified for all stakeholders involved. In this way, the environmental and climate protection goals of the European Green Deal are to be supported in line with the long-term goal of living well within the carrying capacity limits of our planet by 2050.

Subject matter: Due to the highly decentralised nature of environmental policy, measures to achieve the priority objectives should be taken through a cooperative multi-level governance approach. The integrative approach should also be strengthened through regular evaluation of existing policy measures. Furthermore, effective integration of environmental and climate sustainability into the European Semester for economic governance; mobilisation of sustainable investments from public and private sources; full use of nature-based solutions and social innovations; and effective application of high standards of transparency, public participation and access to justice, in line with the Convention on Access to Information, among others, are foreseen. The Commission will be supported in improving the availability and relevance of data and knowledge by the European Environment Agency and the European Chemicals Agency. This will include collecting, processing, and reporting evidence and data using modern digital tools; further improving access to data through Union programmes; and ensuring transparency and accountability.

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Non-legislative act: On the 14th of October 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on a chemicals strategy for sustainability (press release).

Problem: Chemicals play an essential role in our everyday lives and in most of our activities, with exposure to hazardous chemicals can harm humans and their health. Chemical pollution is also a threat to the planet, influencing and amplifying crises such as climate change, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. To ensure that sustainable chemicals that enable the green and digital turn are developed and used, more innovation is needed for the green turn of the chemical industry and its value chains.

Objective: The Communication aims to make chemicals legislation more efficient and effective, thereby promoting the development and diffusion of innovative safe and sustainable chemicals across all sectors. Particularly in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic, it is important to strengthen the EU's open strategic autonomy through resilient value chains and to diversify sustainable sources of supply for those chemicals that have essential uses for our health and for achieving a climate-neutral circular economy. The new EU chemicals policy strategy, together with the European Green Deal, aims to create a pollution-free environment. Chemicals should be produced and used in a way that maximises their contribution to society as well as to achieving the green and digital turnarounds, without harming either the planet or future generations. European industry should become a competitive global leader in this sector through the production and use of safe and sustainable chemicals. In addition to the societal component, the economic component is also crucial in the transition to inherently safe and sustainable chemicals.

Subject matter: Concrete actions planned by the Commission in this regard include the development of EU criteria for inherently safe and sustainable chemicals and the establishment of an EU-wide support network for inherently safe and sustainable chemicals. The new EU strategy also includes the realisation of safe products and pollutant-free material cycles, for example through measures such as minimising the presence of substances of concern in products by introducing concrete requirements or developing methods for the risk assessment of chemicals. In addition, chemical production is to be greened and digitalised. To this end, the Commission will support, among other things, the research, development and use of low-CO2 and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes for chemicals and materials through its financial instruments and research and innovation programmes. Furthermore, the new strategy aims to strengthen open strategic autonomy. In addition to the new strategy, the EU regulatory framework will be strengthened to address urgent environmental and health challenges, including the protection of consumers, vulnerable groups from particularly harmful chemicals and measures against pollution of the natural environment by chemicals. In addition to strengthening the regulatory framework, it will be simplified and consolidated. The "one substance, one assessment" approach is also intended to ensure that the methods for classifying chemicals are made more consistent. In the event of non-compliance with the regulations, the zero-tolerance approach is to take effect, which, among other things, lays down uniform control conditions and frequencies. The availability of chemical data is also to be improved and the science-policy interface in the area of chemicals strengthened.

Sustainable and Smart Mobility

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Non-legislative act: On the 9th of December 2020 the Commission put forward a Communication on a sustainable and smart mobility strategy to put European transport on track for the future (press release).

Problem: Mobility and transport are central to society. While it offers many benefits to its users, it also comes with costs to our society such as including greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, noise pollution. As a result, human health and well-being is affected.

Objective: The aim of the EU transport policy is, on the one hand, to achieve a significant reduction in emissions and to become more sustainable and, on the other hand, to arm the transport system against future crises, for example by strengthening cohesion and improving connectivity. Moreover, mobility should be available and affordable for all. In order to become climate neutral by 2050 in accordance with the goals of the European Green Deal, greenhouse gas emissions from transport must be reduced by 90 per cent. To achieve this, the EU has set itself a number of milestones. By 2030, for example, 100 European cities are to become climate-neutral, high-speed rail transport is to be doubled, zero-emission ships are to be ready for the market, and so on. By 2035, the EU has set itself the goal of making emission-free large aircraft ready for the market. The EU's ambitions by 2050 include tripling high-speed rail, doubling rail freight and providing the multimodal trans-European transport network equipped for sustainable and intelligent transport with high-speed connectivity for the entire network.

Subject matter: In order to be able to achieve the named goals, action must be taken that significantly reduces the current dependence on fossil fuels in particular. Furthermore, decisive action is needed to shift more transport to sustainable modes and to internalise external costs. In order to make all modes of transport more sustainable, the Union is setting itself a number of flagship initiatives, such as promoting the use of zero-emission vehicles and renewable and low-carbon fuels, as well as building the necessary infrastructure. This includes revising CO2 standards for cars and vans, and promoting high-performance tyres. To ensure that sustainable alternatives are widely available so that the most appropriate modes of transport can always be chosen, more sustainable and healthier mobility between and within cities must be ensured. In 2021, the Commission will propose an action plan to promote rail passenger transport on long-distance and cross-border routes. Another flagship initiative concerns the greening of freight transport, which includes a fundamental transformation of the existing framework for intermodal transport. In order to drive the transition to zero-emission mobility, the right incentives need to be put in place, such as CO2 pricing and the end of fossil fuel subsidies. Other key points of the new strategy include the realisation of connected and automated multimodal mobility, as well as the use of new innovations for smarter mobility. In view of the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic, it becomes apparent that the resilience of the European transport area urgently needs to be strengthened. The strategy aims to help both the transport sector and relevant ecosystems such as travel and tourism to emerge stronger from this crisis and become greener, smarter and more resilient.

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