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Despite a wide range of policy responses, the ecological footprint in large parts of Europe remains too high. Progress in recycling is offset by increasing consumption and waste generation, while inadequate land management and planning continues to threaten ecosystems and societies. A new approach is needed, putting more emphasis on improving the effectiveness of environmental policies (CEC 2005, EEA 2005e, EEAC 2005, OECD 2005b). Policy actions in key sectors need to reinforce one another.

Incorporating environmental costs and benefits in prices of goods and services can influence behaviour, raise resource efficiency and reduce environmental damage. Finally, the costs of policy action need to be carefully weighed against the costs of postponement or inaction.

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