Celebrating Europe and its environment
This year not only marks the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, but also 35 years of European Union environmental policy. The European Environment Agency celebrates the occasion by looking back at the last 50 years and reflecting on the environmental challenges that lie ahead.
What we are celebrating
On 25 March 1957, six countries signed the Treaty of Rome, establishing the European Economic Community. Their aim was to create a Common Market in order to secure prosperity, peace and stability. Environment was not part of the policy package.
But rising awareness, the first major environmental disasters in the 1950s and the 1960s, and the iconic images of our fragile planet as seen for the first time from space, led to the breakthrough of the environmental movement in the 1970s.
In 1972, the EU’s environmental policy was formally founded by a European Council declaration and the first five-year Environment Action Programme was adopted.
Today, sustainable development and environmental protection are among the core values of the European Union, which now counts 27 Member States. The EU is a frontrunner on many environmental issues, in terms of policy-making as well as information-provision.