EEA activities

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Evaluation of policy effectiveness plays an important role in the formulation and improvement of policies. Assessing the effects of EU environmental instruments, and whether specific measures have actually been effective in delivering expected results, is an essential task. We have to ask difficult questions such as: are environmental policies actually working, are they cost-effective? If not, how can they be improved? These are the questions the EEA addresses in its work on policy effectiveness and market-based instruments. Currently, particular attention is devoted to the potential of environmental tax reform.

The 2001 report Reporting on environmental measures: Are we effective? set the methodological framework for the EEA's ex-post policy effectiveness evaluations. The approach was piloted in evaluations such as those of the Waste-water Treatment Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the Landfill Directive. Studies on the effectiveness of market-based instruments for sustainable resource management and on the effectiveness of implementing the Structural and Cohesion Funds are ongoing.

Since 1996 the EEA has regularly reported on the experiences of market-based instruments (MBIs). This includes exploring the potential of environmental tax reform, not only for employment, but also for innovation and competitiveness and, in particular, for stimulating  'eco-innovation'. This includes an ongoing study Environmental Tax Reform in Europe in the context of an ageing population in Europe: implication for eco-innovation and for household distribution.

Together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the EEA manages the OECD/EEA database of economic instruments for environmental policy. This covers information about environment-related taxes and charges/fees, deposit refund schemes, tradable permits, environment-friendly subsidies and voluntary agreements. The EEA is also responsible for information gathering for the 15 EEA non-OECD countries.

To support the application of the precautionary principle, a second edition of the volume 'Late lessons from early warnings', is currently being prepared. This will include case studies by experts in the dangers of human economic activities.

The EEA is also the host of the Secretariat for the network of the Heads of the European Environmental Protection Agencies.

Taxes are the indicator of a civilised society, said Roosevelt. Is Environmental Tax Reform the indicator of a sustainable society?

Jacqueline McGlade, Global conference on environmental taxation, 2007

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100