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Data highlights pressure on EU environment

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the EU and the European Commission's Directorate General XI, have collaborated to produce the first ever set of environmental indicators for the European Union. The indicators are based on information from 2300 environmental experts from acr...

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the EU and the European Commission's Directorate General XI, have collaborated to produce the first ever set of environmental indicators for the European Union. The indicators are based on information from 2300 environmental experts from across the European Union. The experts were asked to identify and rank, in order of importance, what they consider to be the greatest environmental pressures facing the European Union. The outcome of this investigation is set out in a report headed 'Towards environmental pressure indicators for the EU' which contains sixty qualitative indicators giving an overview of the pressures of human activities on the environment in ten key policy areas. The Commission hopes the report will contribute to the development of indicators to measure the effectiveness of integration of environmental concerns into different sectoral policies. 'The integration process is an essential part of progress towards a more sustainable society', say Yves Franchet, Eurostat Director-General, and James Currie, Director-General of DG XI. Some of the key concerns emerging from the report include the environmental impact of pollution from traffic in the EU and the environmental pressure of municipal waste (waste that is not produced by industry). And the expert group for the policy field 'dispersion of toxins' placed emissions of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in second position as the most pressing environmental problem. This is despite data from the European dioxins inventory which, Eurostat reports, reflects at least a 50% reduction in emissions of dioxins in the EU since 1985. The techniques used to compile this report continue to be developed as many environmentalists hope to achieve a single environmental pressure index that could allow better comparisons with economic indices such as GDP.

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