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2000 - now

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The EU sees an unprecedented enlargement: ten countries of central and eastern Europe as well as Cyprus and Malta join, bringing membership of the EU up to 27.

Energy security concerns, globalisation and terrorism (following the attacks of 11  September 2001) are high on the EU and global agenda, often overshadowing environmental policy concerns.

The EU adopts its Lisbon agenda, which aims to make the EU ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010’. The EU sustainable development strategy adds an environmental dimension and a longer-term perspective.

The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development is held in Johannesburg and endorses eight Millennium Development Goals. The 2007 report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the proof of climate change is 'unequivocal'.

The baby boomers of the fifties are today’s senior policy and decision-makers: Europe’s population is greying.

2000 +
Adoption of the Water Framework Directive (2000), End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (2000), REACH — the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (2006) and Directive on ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ (2001).

2000 +
The EEA starts its series of Environmental Signals and transport, energy and agriculture reports.

During a Council in Lisbon, the EU prime ministers agree to make the EU ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010’.

The European Commission issues the Biodiversity Action Plan, and launches its Clean Air for Europe programme.

The European Council in Gothenburg results in a declaration ‘A Sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Strategy for Sustainable Development’.

On 11 September, two US passenger aircraft crash into New York’s Twin Towers. Subsequent years see military operations escalate in the ‘War against Terrorism’.

The 6th Environment Action Programme focuses the next five years on ‘implementation, integration and information’.

The Prestige oil tanker breaks apart off the coast of Spain on 2 November 2002, spilling around 9 000 tons of its 90 000 tons of oil. Birdlife International estimates that 15 000 birds could have been killed by the oil spill.

The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, endorses eight Millennium Development Goals.

Central Europe is hit by devastating floods, destroying hundreds of homes. New floods occur in a series of European countries in early 2003 and 2006.

EEA report Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896–2000 released.

EEA’s Europe’s environment: the third assessment report underpins the Ministerial conference held in Kiev, Ukraine, under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Cyprus and Malta — join the EU in 2004. Romania and Bulgaria follow in 2007, bringing the number of Member States to 27.

Launch of the EU Environmental Technology Action Plan, to promote eco-innovation. The EEA and the European Commission launch an award-winning European Pollutant Emission Register.

EEA publishes the report Impacts of Europe's changing climate, which shows that a clear trend exists and impacts are already being observed.

The Kyoto Protocol comes into force following ratification by Russia in 2004. As of December 2006, a total of 169 countries and other governmental entities have ratified the agreement. Notable exceptions remain the United States and Australia.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme enters into effect, creating a market for carbon dioxide allowances.

The UN’s ‘Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’ shows that we are depleting Earth’s natural capital at an alarming rate.

EEA report Climate change and a European low-carbon energy system identifies possible pathways to a low-carbon energy system in Europe by 2030.

EEA report The European Environment — State and Outlook 2005 shows that despite many years of Community environmental policy, environmental quality in the European Union is mixed.

EEA publishes the report Using the market for cost-effective environmental policy, which shows a steady increase in the use of market-based instruments in Europe.

The documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ features Al Gore, former vice-president of the US, and gives a compelling warning to halt climate change.

IPCC report Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis concludes that the proof of climate change is 'unequivocal'. Europe’s leaders agree to adopt new targets to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 20 % from 1990 levels by 2020.

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