EU Green Deal’s policies in Environment and Ocean sector

21/12/2023    4

Green policies in this sector include the EU’s measures, actions to materialize relevant important objectives in European Green Deal, including:

- Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems;

- Reducing air, water and soil pollution;

- Moving towards a circular economy;

- Improving waste management;

- Ensuring the sustainability of blue economy and fisheries sectors.

Also in this framework, in order to reach European Green Deal’s target of net zero emission by 2050, the EU set some intermediary objectives by 2030, featuring:

- Improving air quality to reduce the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution by 55%;

- Improving water quality by reducing waste, plastic litter at sea (by 50%) and microplastics released into the environment (by 30%);

- Improving soil quality by reducing nutrition loss and use of chemical pesticides by 50%.

For materialization of these objectives, the EU has been implementing a series of specific policies which will be briefed as below.

  1.  The new Circular Economy Action Plan - CEAP

To achieve relevant objectives in European Green Deal, a new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), replacing the CEAP in place since 2015, was adopted by the European Commission on 11th March 2020.

For objectives, CEAP 2020 has materialized EGD’s objectives by supplementing a series of new measures (compared to the previous CEAP) in order to:

- Make sustainable product standards from voluntary requirements to mandatory ones in the EU; 

- Empower (public and private) consumers in selection of sustainable products;

- Reduce waste from consumer products;

- Enhance the engagement of all actors in the EU, outside the EU for circular economy implementation.

For the content, CEAP 2020 comprises initiatives, measures, policies to implement circular economy throughout product’s life cycles. These measures are about:

- The way products are designed, produced, traded in circular process;

- Encouragement of sustainable consumption;

- Prevention of waste;

 - Preservation of natural resources in the EU as long as possible.

  1.  Chemicals strategy for sustainability

Chemicals strategy for sustainability adopted by European Commission on 14th Oct 2020 was an action towards the zero pollution objective - one of the key contents of European Green Deal.

For objectives, this strategy aims to:

- Ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products, only allow to use them in production when absolutely necessary;

- Take into account the combined effects of chemicals when assessing risks from chemicals;

- Phase out the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EU, unless their use is essential

- Boost the investment and innovative capacity for production and use of chemicals that are safe and sustainable by design;

- Establish a “one substance one assessment” process for the risk and hazard assessment of chemicals.

For implementation, within this Strategy, some of the EU’s documents with relevant legal regulations relating to chemicals were/will be amended, of which the most noticeable ones are new standards relating to chemicals.

  1.  Waste and recycling

The EU waste policies are designed to protect the environment and human health, contributing to circular economy by (i) improving waste management; (ii) stimulating innovation in recycling; and (iii) limiting landfilling.

Basic policies in this group include:

  • The Waste Framework Directive: Basic legal framework for waste treatment and management in the EU
  • Legal documents of waste management in several aspects, sectors, of which some below are noticeable:

- EU rules on batteries and accumulators;

- Some new, upgraded regulations relating to substances used in goods, requirements for packaging.

  1.  Other policies groups

There are several policies classified by European Commission into European Green Deal’s environment and ocean objectives group, however, they mainly focus on the EU’s internal issues, rarely impact imports from outside to this Union. Specifically:

- Biodiversity strategy for 2030: The Strategy which was presented on 20th May 2020 is a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems in the EU with 03 action groups relating to (i) Extension of the EU’s biodiversity protected areas; (ii) Announcement of the EU nature restoration plan (with EU nature restoration law); (iii) Supplement of measures to boost the change (funds for biodiversity, new governance mechanism, etc.);

- Environment action programme to 2030: Effective from 2nd May 2022, this Programme comprises the EU’s legally binding environment policies until 2030;

- The EU Action Plan: "Towards a Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil": Adopted on 12 May 2021, this Plan includes (i) Chemical Strategy for Sustainability; (ii) Measures to monitor and control air, water soil pollution in EU; and (iii) Revision to measures of pollution treatment at large industrial production sites in the EU;

- Sustainable blue economy: Adopted on 17th May 2021, this Programme boosts investment in research, skills, innovation to promote blue economy without damaging the environment;

- Batteries Regulation: This was approved on 12th July 2023 and shall completely replace EU Batteries Directive, will be effective since 2025, with the main content of updating regulations in line with EGD’s new objectives, promoting minimal impacts of battery use on the environment in the context of new market, technology, social – economic conditions;

- Common fisheries policy (CFP): Adopted on 21st Feb 2023, this Policy comprises principles to ensure EU’s fisheries exploitation and marine resources conservations, of which there are some aspects about (i) Protection of marine ecosystem; (ii) Energy transition in the EU’s fisheries; (iii) New model in fisheries market management in the EU.

Source: Report "EU Green Deal and Vietnam's Exports - The case of the agricultural, food and textile industries" – Center for WTO and International Trade