Updated: 01/03/2022

Chapter 27 - Environment and Climate Change



The EU's environmental policy aims to eliminate, to mitigate or to prevent pollution, to ensure ecologically balanced use of natural resources in order to foster sustainable development, to prevent environmental damage at its source, to secure the integration of environmental issues into other sectoral policies (e.g. energy, transport).

Environment gained policy status with the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 that established the European Union, by creating a political union besides economic and monetary union. The basic principles of the EU’s environmental policy are as follows: “polluter pays”, “integration with other policies”, “high level of protection”, “environmental damage shall be rectified at source”, “prevention” and “precaution”. Environment Action Programmes which have been prepared since 1973, have been quite influential in the development of the EU’s environmental policy.

The European Commission published a proposal for an 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) on 14 October 2020. The Objectives of the 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) are as follows;

  • achieving the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and climate neutrality by 2050
  • enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change
  • advancing towards a regenerative growth model, decoupling economic growth from resource use and environmental degradation, and accelerating the transition to a circular economy
  • pursuing a zero-pollution ambition, including for air, water and soil and protecting the health and well-being of Europeans
  • protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity, and enhancing natural capital (notably air, water, soil, and forest, freshwater, wetland and marine ecosystems)
  • reducing environmental and climate pressures related to production and consumption (particularly in the areas of energy, industrial development, buildings and infrastructure, mobility and the food system)

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, environment became an area of shared competence between the EU and its member states. Pursuant to the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union’s environmental policy shall contribute to pursuit of the following objectives:

  • Preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment,
  • Protecting human health,
  • Prudent and rational utilization of natural resources,
  • Promoting measures at international level to deal with regional and worldwide environmental problems, and in particular combating climate change.

The European Green Deal (EGD), which was made public by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on 11 December 2019, is the EU's new growth strategy that aims to make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, with net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Green Deal encompasses a set of far reaching measures in almost all economic sectors (including energy, transport, agriculture, industry etc.) with the aim of fostering transition to a more competitive, resource-efficient and circular economy. Under the European Green Deal Investment Plan, the Commission intends to mobilize at least €1 trillion of sustainable investments over the 2021-2030 period, by increasing resources devoted to climate action under the EU budget and by leveraging additional public and private financing.

To enshrine the 2050 climate-neutrality objective into EU acquis, the European Climate Law was adopted on 30 June 2021. As foreseen in the Climate Law and the European Green Deal, the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030 was updated as “at least %55 reduction compared to 1990 levels” and was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the EU’s new contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement in December 2020. Türkiye has been closely following the profound transformation process brought by the  European Green Deal in the context of her EU accession process and her trade and economic relations with the Union. The Presidency Circular on Türkiye’s Green Deal Action Plan was published in the Official Gazette No. 31543 of 16 July 2021.  Türkiye’s Green Deal Action Plan which was made public on the same date, presents a detailed roadmap under 9 main headings ( “Carbon Border Adjustments”, “Green and Circular Economy”, “Green Financing”, “Clean Economic and Secure Energy Supply”, “Sustainable Agriculture”, “Sustainable Smart Mobility”, “Combating Climate Change”, “Diplomacy”, “European Green Deal Information and Awareness-Raising Activities”) and 32 objectives for adaptation to green transition. Türkiye’s ratification of the Paris Agreement and the announcement of the net zero emissions target by 2053 will provide additional impetus to the implementation of Türkiye’s Green Deal Action Plan.



Environmental acquis comprises legal arrangements on air quality, water quality, waste management, nature protection, industrial pollution control and risk management, chemicals, noise and climate change as well as horizontal issues covering all areas of environmental management in general. Furthermore, environmental acquis also includes several international agreements. Alignment with the environmental acquis and it’s implementation require serious investment.

EU Integrated Approximation Strategy (UÇES) (2016-2023) contains detailed information concerning the technical and institutional infrastructure to be developed as well as environmental improvements and arrangements to be carried out in Türkiye in order to ensure alignment with the EU’s environmental acquis and its effective implementation. In this regard, UÇES sets out objectives, targets, strategies and activities to be undertaken in Türkiye in the priority areas including  water, solid waste, air, industrial pollution control, nature protection and horizontal sector. According to UÇES, the cost of investments necessary to ensure alignment with the EU’s environmental acquis is estimated to be approximately 60 billion Euros. It is foreseen that 80 % of the aforementioned investments required in the environment sector would be carried out by the public sector while the remaining %20 would be assumed by the private sector. The major EU environmental policy areas and the main corresponding legislation are as follows:

Horizontal legislation covers arrangements pertaining to such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage (ELD) and access to environmental information.As one of the main  piece of legislation in this area, EIA Directive No. 2011/92/EUrequires identification and assessment of direct or indirect effects of public or private projects on human beings, fauna and flora, soil, water, air, climate, material assets and cultural heritage. On the other hand, SEA Directive No. 2011/42/EC specifies a process in which it is aimed to assess and minimize or eliminate the possible significant effects of plans and programs on environment. The Directive 2003/4/EC on Access to Environmental Information lays down the principles concerning the right to have access to environmental information and regulates the accessibility of environmental information and its dissemination to the public. The INSPIRE Directive (2007/2/EC) which aims to establish an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe to support Community environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment, also falls under the scope of horizontal acquis.  

EU’s air quality legislation includes a framework directive on ambient air quality (Directive 2008/50/EC, Clean Air for Europe-CAFE) and legislation on volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. The framework Directive on Ambient Air Quality introduces rules on clean air plans and programs, the assessment of the quality of ambient air, monitoring requirements and procedures by means of applying common methods for all pollutants.

EU legislation on water quality is mainly composed of Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the linked directives. Water Framework Directive based on the principles of integrated river basin management and the participation of the public in the decision making process is the main legal arrangement that aims to protect and improve the quality as well as the quantity of all water bodies in the EU.

The main principles of the European Union in the field of waste management are the “producer responsibility and polluter pays principle”, “proximity principle” and “waste management hierarchy”. According to the waste management hierarchy which was defined in the Waste Framework Directive(2008/98/EC), waste prevention and re-use are the most preferred options, followed by recycling (including composting), then energy recovery, while waste disposal through landfills should be the very last resort. The EU waste legislation also sets specific targets to increase the recycling of specific waste streams, such as electronic equipment, cars, batteries, construction, demolition, municipal and packaging waste, as well as to reduce the landfilling of bio-degradable waste.  Within the framework of the Circular Economy Package (2015), which is one of the long-term plans of the EU on resource efficiency, the first Action Plan has been successfully implemented. Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission adopted new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) on 11 March 2020. A circular economy reduces pressure on natural resources, and is a precondition for achieving the climate-neutrality target by 2050, ensuring an efficient and competitive EU economy and halting biodiversity lossThe EU’s most important legislation in the field of nature protection are the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) on conservation of biodiversity through establishing NATURA 2000 network, and the CITES Regulation (EC/338/97) on protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein. Furthermore, a number of EU legislation is in force related to keeping of wild animals in zoos, prohibiting the use of leghold traps and preventing illegal import of timber products.

In the field of industrial pollution control and risk management, the main legislative arrangements are Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU) and Seveso III Directive (2012/18/EC) on the Control of Major-Accident Hazards Involving Dangerous Substances. In the scope of Industrial Emissions Directive, it is aimed to merge Directive 2008/1/EC on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), regulating the issues on integrated permit system, prevention of pollution during the production phase, management of pollution caused by production process, best available techniques (BAT) and public participation, together with other 6 sectoral directives. The aforementioned sectoral directives are: Large Combustion Plants (2001/80/EC) Directive, Waste Incineration Directive (2000/76/AT)(WID), Solvent Emissions Directive (1999/13/EC), 3 Directives About Waste Caused By Titanium Dioxide Industry (78/176/EEC, 82/883/EEC, 92/112/EEC). In this respect, these directives were repealed by Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EC).

In the area of chemicals, the CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 contains provisions on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. The other important legislation in the field of chemicals is the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) Regulation. In the field of chemicals there are also legislation on exports and import of chemicals, reduction of persistent organic pollutants, biocidal products and test animals.

Under the heading of noise, there is a single Directive (2002/49/EC) on the Assessment and Management of Environmental Noise. The Directive calls for the preparation of strategic noise maps by Member States showing the situation in all agglomerations with more than 250.000 inhabitants, all major roads which have more than 6 million vehicle passages a year, major railways which have more than 60.000 train passages per year and major airports within their territories. The Directive also requires the Member States to draw up Noise Action Plans.

Regarding Climate Change, there are several legal arrangements in the EU on monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, emissions trading system (2003/87/EC), reducing emissions from sectors not covered by the emissions trading system (Effort Sharing Decision-406/2009/EC  and Regulation (EU) 2018/842), carbon capture and storage, controlling F-gases and the protection of the ozone layer, reducing emissions from the transport sector, and emissions stemming from land-use and land-use change.

The EU is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement which constitute an indispensable part of the EU acquis. In accordance with it’s updated contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, the EU committed to reduce it’s greenhouse gas  (GHG) emissions by %55 compared to 1990 levels by 2030.  To make the EU’s legislation fit for delivering the updated reduction target, on 14 July 2021 the Commission presented the first series of its far reaching legislative proposals under the “Fit for 55” package. The package contains legislative proposals to revise the entire EU 2030 climate and energy framework, including the legislation on effort sharing, land use and forestry, renewable energy, energy efficiency, emission standards for new cars and vans, alternative fuels infrastructure, the Energy Taxation Directive and the proposal on Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

In the area of Civil Protection, the activities at the EU level are conducted by the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). The Mechanism operates under the Directorate General of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) of the European Commission. The overall objective of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the Member States in the field of civil protection, with a view to improving prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. The Mechanism supports the efforts of Participating States to protect primarily people, but also the environment and property, including cultural heritage, against all kinds of natural and man-made disasters, including the consequences of environmental disasters, marine pollution and health emergencies, occurring inside and outside the Union. All EU Member States participate, as well as 6 Participating States (Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Türkiye). The agreement on Türkiye's participation in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was signed on 6 May 2015. Decree on the ratification of the agreement between the Republic of Türkiye and the European Union on the participation of Türkiye in the Union Civil Protection Mechanism was published in the Official Gazette No. 29661 of 22 March 2016. The national coordination of the UCPM activities in Türkiye is executed by the Ministry of Interior Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

For more information on the European Union Policy on the Environment; (http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/index_en.htm)



Screening process was completed for the Chapter on Environment in 2006, and two opening benchmarks have been set for the opening of the accession negotiations in this chapter:

  1. Türkiye presents to the Commission its comprehensive strategy for the gradual, well coordinated transposition, implementation and enforcement of the acquis in this chapter, including plans for building up the necessary administrative capacity at national, regional and local level and required financial resources, with an indication of milestones and timetables.
    2. Türkiye fulfils its obligations as regards the implementation of applicable environment acquis in line with the relevant EC-Türkiye Association Council Decisions.

Following the fulfil-ment of the opening benchmarks, the assessment report on the fulfilment of the opening benchmarks for Chapter 27, Environment, for Türkiye was approved in COREPER on November 12, 2009.


The Chapter on Environment was opened to accession negotiations at the Intergovernmental Conference which was held in Brussels on December 21, 2009.

Six closing benchmarks, one political and five technical, for the Chapter on Environment have been set in the EU Common Position. Technical closing benchmarks are provided below:

  1. Türkiye fulfils her obligations stemming from the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement between Türkiye and the EU (political criteria).
  2. Türkiye adopts legislation aimed at transposing the EU's horizontal and framework environmental legislation, including its transboundary aspects,
  3. Türkiye adopts legislation aimed at transposing the acquis in the field of water quality, notably its Framework Water Protection Law; establishes River Basin Protection Action Plans; and makes further significant progress in legislative alignment in this sector by adopting implementing legislation,
  4. Türkiye adopts legislation aimed at transposing the acquis in the field of industrial pollution control and risk management,
  5. Türkiye continues its alignment with the acquis in the remaining sectors of this chapter, including nature protection and waste management, in line with the Plan for Setting up Necessary Administrative Capacities at National, Regional and Local Level and Required Financial Resources for Implementing the Environmental Acquis and demonstrates that it will be fully prepared to ensure the implementation and enforcement of the EU requirements at the date of accession,
  6. Türkiye continues capacity building of the administrative bodies at all levels, including inspection services, in line with the Plan for Setting up Necessary Administrative Capacities at National, Regional and Local Level and Required Financial Resources for Implementing the Environmental Acquis, further improves coordination of work and demonstrates that all appropriate administrative structures will be in place in good time before accession to enable implementation and enforcement of the acquis  in all sectors of this chapter.



Efforts to transpose the EU’s legislation on horizontal sector, air quality, water, waste management, nature protection, industrial pollution prevention and risk management, chemicals  noise and climate change have been underway  in line with the Negotiating Position and Strategy Document.


Updated: 01/03/2022 / Hit: 126,741