EU environment and climate policies have delivered substantial benefits over recent decades, such as cleaner air and water. Nevertheless, Europe, as well as the rest of the globe, is facing environmental challenges of unprecedented scale and urgency.

What does Europe do to protect its nature?


protected areas


of land covered

by protected areas


habitats protected

under EU law


of Europe's seas covered

by protected areas

nearly 0,000

species and habitats protected

under EU law

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Five yearly snapshots of Europe's environment

Every five years, we publish our flagship report: the state and outlook of Europe’s environment (SOER). The sixth SOER identified serious gaps between the state of the environment and existing EU near‑ and long‑term policy targets.

While European environment and climate policies have helped to improve the environment over recent decades, Europe is not making enough progress and the outlook for the environment in the coming decade is not positive, according to the ‘European environment — state and outlook 2020 (SOER 2020)’ report.

A pollution-free Europe?

The zero pollution action plan is a cornerstone of the EU’s ambitions to improve the well-being and health of citizens and future generations under the European Green Deal. It sets out the vision that by 2050, the EU should have reduced pollution to the extent that it no longer harms human health and natural ecosystems. This is translated into key 2030 targets to reduce pollution at source. We produced our first zero pollution monitoring assessment to assess progress towards these targets.

Good progress has been made towards reducing air pollution from industry, transport and homes — reducing the number of premature deaths linked to air pollution as a result. At the same time, Europe has been maintaining and improving its bathing and drinking water quality and reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Encouraging trends are also taking place in reducing pesticide use, although the resulting positive impact on the environment is yet to be seen.

Dive deeper

The European environment — state and outlook 2020: knowledge for transition to a sustainable Europe (SOER 2020)

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