Goal 6: 1. EU Programmes likely to be relevant for libraries (a selection)
Because of their intrinsic properties, biocidal products can pose risks to humans, animals and the environment. As a result, the EU has set up strict rules and procedures to minimise these risks.
Environment - Chemicals
Some chemicals can severely damage our health or the environment. There is an increase in health problems that can be partially explained by the use of chemicals. Some man-made chemicals are found in the most remote places in the environment but also in our bodies. Chemicals are everywhere. In the EU, we have comprehensive chemicals legislation, spearheaded by REACH and CLP, which aims to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment. Specific groups of chemicals, such s biocides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics, are covered by their own legislation. In addition, the European Commission is addressing the challenges posed by endocrine disruptors, chemicals that interfere with the hormone system causing adverse health effects.
High quality, safe and sufficient drinking water is essential for our daily life and for many other purposes, such as washing, cleaning, hygiene or watering our plants. The European Union has a history of over 30 years of drinking water policy. This policy ensures that water intended for human consumption can be consumed safely on a life-long basis, and this represents a high level of health protection. The main pillars of the policy are to:
- Ensure that drinking water quality is controlled through standards based on the latest scientific evidence;
- Secure an efficient and effective monitoring, assessment and enforcement of drinking water quality;
- Provide the consumers with adequate, timely and appropriately information;
- Contribute to the broader EU water and health policy;
The EU Water Framework Directive - integrated river basin management for Europe
On 23 October 2000, the EU Water Framework Directive (or even shorter the WFD) was finally adopted.
The Directive was published in the Official Journal (OJ L 327) on 22 December 2000 and entered into force the same day. Some amendments have been introduced into the Directive since 2000, and you can download the consolidated version in all EU languages here.
However, even after reading the Directive, you may have still questions, such as: What is this Directive about? What do I need to know about the Directive? What is currently happening in relation to the Directive?
Final Circular Economy package
On 4 March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges to shaping our economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimised. In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan, which includes measures that will helpstimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.
The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and a revised legislative proposal on waste.
Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:
- A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2035;
- A common EU target for recycling 70% of packaging waste by 2030
Environment Action Programme
The European Union has put in place a broad range of environmental legislation. As a result, air, water and soil pollution has significantly been reduced. Chemicals legislation has been modernised and the use of many toxic or hazardous substances has been restricted. Today, EU citizens enjoy some of the best water quality in the world and over 18% of EU's territory has been designated as protected areas for nature.
However, many challenges persist and these must be tackled together in a structured way.
The 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) will be guiding European environment policy until 2020. In order to give more long-term direction it sets out a vision: "In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society." It identifies three key objectives:
- to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital
- to turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy
- to safeguard the Union's citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing
By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. Two year work programmes announce the specific areas that will be funded by Horizon 2020.
Landfill of waste
The Landfill Directive defines the different categories of waste (municipal waste, hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste and inert waste) and applies to all landfills, defined as waste disposal sites for the deposit of waste onto or into land. Landfills are divided into three classes: a) landfills for hazardous waste; b) landfills for non-hazardous waste; c) landfills for inert waste.
Minimise release of hazardous chemicals (“Active substance”, Pharmaceuticals and the Environment, Veterinary medicines)
The Commission evaluates every active substance for safety before it reaches the market in a product. Substances must be proven safe for people's health, including their residues in food and effects on animal health and the environment. Environmental Pollution caused by human and veterinary pharmaceutical substances is an emerging environmental problem. Article 8c of Directive 2008/105/EC (amended by Directive 2013/39/EU) obliges the European Commission to develop a strategic approach to water pollution from pharmaceutical substances. Veterinary medicinal products (VMPs) are substances or combinations of substances to treat, prevent or diagnose disease in animals. The EU works to support the development and authorisation of safe, effective and quality veterinary medicinal products for food producing and companion animals, ensuring their availability and guaranteeing the highest level of public health, animal health and environmental protection.
Adaptation to climate change
Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later.
Examples of adaptation measures include: using scarce water resources more efficiently; adapting building codes to future climate conditions and extreme weather events; building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes; developing drought-tolerant crops; choosing tree species and forestry practices less vulnerable to storms and fires; and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate.
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