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October 25th, 2007
Progress report on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy

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In 2005 the European Council set out principles to guide Europe on a sustainable path of development. These principles include the ongoing need to foster economic prosperity based on an innovative, competitive and eco-efficient economy, protecting and improving the quality of the environment; promoting equity and social cohesion in solidarity with the rest of the world. In 2006 the European Council adopted a renewed Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) that sets out a single, coherent plan on how the EU will more effectively live up to these principles and the overarching objective of sustainable development enshrined in the Treaty.

The plan consists of seven key challenges which must be tackled if Europe is to move along a sustainable development path and maintain current levels of prosperity and welfare. It recognised that SDS goals can only be met in close partnership with the Member States and hence set in motion a new process of review and reporting involving the Commission and the Member States. This Progress report is the first stocktaking based on this new way of working. It reviews results in moving towards the seven core objectives and identifies policy initiatives at both EU and MS level that have contributed to these results. Because it would not have been possible to show meaningful trends on the basis of one year’s data, 2000 is taken as a baseline against which progress is measured in the different areas.

This report gives a first snapshot of the state of play.1 It shows relatively modest progress on the ground. Development of policy initiatives at both EU and Member States level is more encouraging. For example, climate change and sustainable energy have become top priorities for the EU’s domestic and international agendas. This far reaching progress on the policy front should bring results on the ground in the years to come. There appears to be increasing convergence between the different actors on priorities: the EU, Member States, citizen groups, NGOs and business are increasingly focusing on the same issues and working to meet the same goals.

The stocktaking provides the basis for discussions, in the various sector policy fora, in the context of follow-up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and in the SDS coordination framework, on the need to adjust the course or speed of policy initiatives, with a view over the longer terms of readjusting objectives and recalibrating targets.

Download Report (October 2007) (15 pages; 65KB PDF)

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