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According to the Eurobarometer, almost the totality of Europeans (94 %) think that protecting the environment is important. Europeans are very concerned about the environment and they are worried about climate change, air pollution, waste and water protection.
The EU and EU Institutions are widely seen (83%) as the best guarantees that EU environmental laws and policies are correctly implemented.
It is a fact that in the field of environmental policy, perhaps more than in any other area, the EU has had an overwhelmingly positive effect during the last forty years. EU membership had a revolutionary effect upon national environmental policies, primarily through requiring a shift in policy style and goals. The EU environmental policies pursued initially by the so-called environmental pioneers, i.e. Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have introduced higher standards across all EU States as well as acting to prevent the weakening of environmental policies. Thus, today many of the most important national environmental policies and priorities are those that have emerged via the EU.
However, the current and forthcoming environmental challenges, such as climate change, which have wide-ranging economic and social implications, call for stronger and wider EU action.
The same polls affirming the importance of environment for Europeans also reveal that Europeans expect the EU and national governments to do more. In this regard, over 60 % of Europeans believe neither national governments nor the EU are doing enough to protect the environment. Interestingly, 67 % of Europeans (an increasing percentage (+7%) compared to the results obtained in 2014) think that decisions about protecting the environment should be made jointly within the EU. Given the transboundary nature of environmental problems, in this more than any other policy area, Europeans believe that it is essential to participate in European regional policy-making and share a common EU action for the environment.
So, Europeans trust the EU but expect more in terms of greening EU policies!
|PhD in Law and Economics (University of Siena), Mariachiara is Senior Researcher in Environmental Law at the Institute for Comparative Federalism, Eurac Research. Her research focuses on multilevel governance of the environment, water law, public participation in environmental decision-making, climate change, renewable energies and sustainable development.