The Sixth Environment Action Programme, which was adopted in July 2002, sets out the EU's priorities for the period to 2012. Four areas are singled out for priority action: climate change, nature and biodiversity, the environment and health, and the management of natural resources and waste. EU environment policy is guided by the precautionary principle and the "polluter pays" principle.
The Commission has also adopted seven thematic strategies including a thematic strategy on urban environment to improve the environment in Europe’s cities, and a soil thematic strategy with the objective of protecting soil across the EU. Different EU policies (for example on water, waste, chemicals, industrial pollution prevention, nature protection pesticides, agriculture) already contribute to soil protection.