The EU: Environment

Work on environmental issues takes place in the Environment Council. An ambitious and cohesive climate and energy policy is essential to manage the challenges of climate change and promote sustainable development.

The EU has a crucial role to play in environmental development by virtue of its power to adopt environmental rules that are binding for Member States. The EU must be a driving force both in Europe and globally in protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development, which will lay the foundation for green growth through a resource-efficient economy.

More about environment policy on the Council of the European Union website

EU climate policy needs to be ambitious and cohesive

Climate adaptation is one of the greatest challenges of our age, and at the same time offers an opportunity for jobs and growth. The EU should lead this work, including at global level.

Coping with the challenges of climate change and promoting sustainable development requires an ambitious and cohesive climate policy both globally and in the EU.

EU objectives for climate and energy policy

The long-term objective of EU climate policy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80–95 per cent by 2050. In the shorter term, the EU has adopted two frameworks for climate and energy policy that are intended to guide efforts over the next 15 years.

In 2008, the EU adopted a Climate and Energy Package for the years up to 2020. The Package included a 30 per cent reduction in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 provided that other industrial countries commit themselves to comparable reductions.

In October 2014, the EU heads of state and government adopted a framework for the EU's climate and energy policy up to 2030.

The framework includes:

  • a target of reducing of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030;
  • a target of at least 27 per cent renewable energy at EU level by 2030; and
  • a target of at least 27 per cent greater energy efficiency by 2030.

Burden-sharing in the non-ETS sectors (Effort Sharing Decision, ESD)

The Government wants to ensure that all Member States must help achieve the common goal of -30 per cent within non-ETS sectors by 2030 compared with 2005, and that the goals are relatively adjusted to reflect cost effectiveness in a fair and balanced manner for Member States with a GDP per capita above the EU average.

It is also important for the Government that the proposal guarantees that the environmental integrity of the 2030 framework is maintained. The transport sector comprises a significant share of emissions in the non-trading sector and the Government wants the Commission to promptly draft proposals for how emissions will be reduced in this sector after 2020.

EU coordinates work on biodiversity

Preserving biodiversity is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. For the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, international cooperation is of the utmost importance in the EU and globally.

Biodiversity is, alongside climate change, the major environmental challenge of our time. Ecosystems and plant and animal species do not recognise national borders. Efforts to preserve and make sustainable use of biodiversity, including through global measures, are coordinated at EU level.

EU work to combat hazardous chemicals

The EU is pushing for international measures to complement measures at national and EU level aimed at protecting humans and the environment from hazardous chemicals and ensuring that waste can be used as a resource.

The fundamental regulatory framework in the EU comprises the chemicals regulation REACH and the CLP Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures. In addition to these, there are rules for use of pesticides and biocides and product-specific directives, such as the RoHS Directive – the directive on certain dangerous substances in electrical and electronic equipment – and the Toy Safety Directive.

The Government will work to ensure more ambitious implementation of REACH, and that EU regulation of endocrine disruptors and nanomaterials are put in place in accordance with the objectives of the Seventh Environment Action Programme.

The Government will also work to phase out hazardous substances by coordinating product and chemicals legislation with waste legislation and by regulating the presence of hazardous substances in recycled materials.

The regulation of hazardous chemicals is largely totally harmonised in the European Union. This means that Sweden needs to work within the EU to further improve the legislation in this area.

The Swedish Government will work to ensure that dangerous substances are phased out by coordinating the product and chemicals legislation with waste legislation, and by regulating the presence of dangerous substances in recycled materials.  An enhanced chemicals policy in the EU and the presentation by the Commission of an action plan for highly fluorinated substance are also important.

More about work on chemicals on the European Commission website

EU marine and water policy

All water is interconnected. Water quality on land affects the environmental status of the seas and this is why a cohesive marine and water policy is needed. EU marine policy is to aim for the sustainable use and the preservation of the seas and the sea basins in the EU and the EU neighbourhood, including the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The EU is also working to strengthen innovation efforts in the marine and water area.

NEC Directive

The NEC Directive, which sets a limit on the level of national emissions, is the engine behind air quality management in Europe. Every country in Europe stands to gain from a reduction of the emissions covered by the measures in the Directive. These measures help to reduce pollution levels and thus increase quality of life.