60 years ago in Rome, on 25 March 1957, six European heads of state and government signed the Treaty of Rome. This marked the birth of today’s EU. Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks commented:
"The European Union has proved to be a godsend for environmental protection. Environmental pollution does not stop at national borders. The EU member states understood early on the importance of collective rules and standards for effective environmental protection.
Since the first European Environment Action Programme of 1973, visible improvements of environmental quality have been achieved in all areas. In many places, air and water have become cleaner. The EU ensures that industrial plants and chemicals are safe. It protects biodiversity and nature. Common standards for waste policy, following the principle of resource efficiency, are in place. It has significantly strengthened the opportunities for public participation in the environmental domain. The fight against climate change has become a key issue for the EU. The Paris Agreement would not have been possible without the commitment of Europe.
Even in difficult times for the economy and foreign policy, environmental protection and combating climate change need to remain a top priority. A clean environment and a future-oriented climate policy are essential factors of stability for peace and economic prosperity. Therefore, we will continue to strive for improvements with and within the EU."