Environment and Climate Action: The most important and challenging EU policy areas

The European Union is at the forefront of the worlds' efforts to protect the environment and fight against climate change. Environment and climate change represent among the most important and challenging EU policy areas as they directly impact the quality of life of citizens. Sustainability is crucial for ensuring that future generations use and enjoy natural resources.

Numerous environmental challenges are still waiting for a solution while some have become even more acute. The increasing demand for resources has led to faster degradation and biodiversity loss. The depletion and pollution of water resources pose serious problems and water scarcity could affect up to one-third of the world population by 2025.

Resources such as water, energy, land, and forests constitute the foundations of world economies and the livelihood of many people in Turkey and across the world depend on them. Turkey’s greenhouse gas emissions doubled over the last decade. At the same time, the country is located in one of the most vulnerable regions as for the impact of climate change. Therefore, in Turkey even more than in other places, timely and ambitious climate action is necessary to achieve a competitive, resource-efficient, and low-carbon economy, and a resilient society.

In Turkey, the EU works closely with the national authorities to bring about full alignment of the national legislation to the EU acquis communautaire. Turkey's accession negotiations on Chapter 27 (Environment) have been ongoing since December 2009. Environment represents the most complex and costly area on the way towards EU accession: it is estimated that implementation of over 200 pieces of legislation requires around €70 billion worth of investments.

The EU provides financial assistance to Turkey in the field of environment and climate change through seven-year multi-annual operational programmes under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), mirroring the structural funds programmes designed for the EU Member States.

Since 2002, €6 billion in pre-accession financial assistance has been allocated to Turkey. 15% of this (about €1 billion) has been allocated to the environment sector.

  IPA II period (2014-2020)* IPA I period (2007 – 2013) Total
Environment & Climate Action € 353,7 M € 706 M € 1059,7 M
* Updated allocation as of September 2019

In the current period of IPA II (2014-2020), the EU implements the second seven-year multiannual programme for Environment and Climate Action and provides 363,7 million euros in funding for projects aimed at improving environmental protection by addressing the challenges of climate change, environmental management for sustainable development and disaster management, as well as building capacity to manage water, waste, chemicals, air quality and natural resources.

Part of the funds has been allocated to environmental infrastructure (i.e., water treatment and supply, wastewater collection and treatment, solid waste management, storm water collection and discharge), and another part to acquis alignment projects that contribute to the alignment of the national legislation and policies with EU directives. 

This programme comes as a continuation of the IPA I period Environment Operational Programme implemented in the period 2007-2013, which provided Turkey with a total funding of 706 million euros,.