The European Commission adopted on 12 May 2021 the EU Action Plan “Towards zero pollution of air, water and soil pollution” – a key result of the European Green Pact.

This EU Action Plan sets out an integrated vision for 2050, as well as the steps to achieve this goal, with the goal of reducing pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems.

This Action Plan puts into practice the EU’s ambition to reduce pollution to a non-toxic environment.

The Action Plan is closely linked to the EU’s climate neutrality targets, health, biodiversity and resource efficiency and is based on initiatives in the fields of energy, industry, mobility, food, the circular economy and agriculture.

The plan interconnects all relevant EU anti-pollution and anti-pollution policies, with a particular focus on how to use digital solutions to combat pollution.


Key targets for 2030

In order to target the EU towards the 2050 target for a healthy planet for healthy people, the action plan sets out key targets for 2030 to reduce pollution at source compared to the current situation:

  • improving the quality of water in inland waters and the marine environment by:
  • reduction of waste discharged into the aquatic environment,
    reduction of plastic waste in the marine environment (by 50%)
    reduction of discharged microplastics in the environment (by 30%);
    improving soil quality by reducing nutrient losses and the use of chemical pesticides by 50%;
  • A 25% reduction in EU ecosystems where air pollution clearly threatens biodiversity;
  • improving air quality to reduce by 55% the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution;
  • 30% reduction in the number of people with chronic illnesses caused by transport noise;
  • significant reduction in the amount of waste generated and 50% of municipal waste.

Flagship initiatives and actions

The plan sets out a number of flagship initiatives and actions, including:

  • aligning air quality standards with the latest EU recommendations;
  • reviewing water quality standards, including water from EU rivers and seas;
  • reduction of soil pollution and intensification of the soil regeneration process;
  • reviewing most EU waste legislation to bring it into line with the principles of a clean and circular economy;
  • supporting the ambition to reduce pollution caused by production and consumption to zero;
  • the presentation of a scoreboard on the environmental performance of EU regions in order to promote the ambition to reduce pollution in all regions;
  • reducing health inequalities caused by adverse health effects;
  • reducing the EU’s external pollution footprint by restricting the export of products and waste that have harmful and toxic effects in third countries;
  • launch of living laboratories for environmentally friendly digital solutions and smart zero pollution solutions;
  • strengthening EU knowledge centers for zero pollution reduction and bringing together stakeholders in the Zero Reduction Stakeholder Platform;
  • strengthen compliance with zero pollution measures together with environmental and other law enforcement authorities.


The European Green Pact is the most ambitious environmental protection program in the world that comes with a package of effective measures to be taken in the European Union, with the aim of reducing pollutant emissions to air, water and soil by at least 55% by 2030 , which will achieve in 2050, for the first time in the world the climate neutrality of the Member States.

One of the key results of the European Green Pact is the development and implementation of the Action Plan “Towards zero air, water and soil pollution”.

The Action Plan focuses on the issue of plastic waste, which has now become one of the biggest environmental problems, due to the historical accumulation of plastic waste supplemented by the exponential growth of plastic production.

A key objective for 2030 of this Action Plan, of great importance for the quality of the Black Sea marine environment is to improve water quality through the following measures:

  1.  Significant reduction of waste discharged into the aquatic environment; The significant reduction of the waste dumped in the aquatic environment, implicitly means the significant reduction of the waste discharges in the seas adjacent to the European Union, respectively the Planetary Ocean, as the final location of collection of this waste. Concrete case for the Black Sea where only the Danube brings a contribution of 30% of waste discharged into the sea water.
  2.  In particular, the reduction of discharged microplastics in the environment (by 30%); A 30% reduction in the discharge of microplastics into the environment means a significant contribution to the reduction of waste discharged into the sea, because microplastics are the largest component of marine litter.
  3.  Reduction of plastic waste from the marine environment (by 50%). These measures, implemented with good results, can ultimately lead to a reduction 50% of plastic waste from seawater, only if measures are taken collection of existing marine litter.

Author: Muntoiu Alexandru  – ECOM Team Romania

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