Brussels, 18 November 2008
The Commission has set out plans to improve the implementation of the European Union's 200 or so laws on environmental protection. This fits within a wider Commission strategy for improving implementation of EU law announced in 2007, and coincides with the publication of the new Annual Report of the Commission on monitoring the application of Community Law in general. The Communication stresses the need for close cooperation with Member States to ensure that national implementing rules are correct and adopted on time, and that shared goals are effectively achieved. Where serious problems persist – such as tolerance of illegal landfills or multiple failures to treat urban waste-water – the Commission will favour strategic legal action over a piecemeal approach.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "We must ensure that Europe actually puts into practice the environmental measures that have been agreed. In the light of this Communication, I look forward to working even more closely with Member States. This includes preparing high quality laws that take implementation aspects fully into account, and also means preparing well for the implementation of laws. Where quicker and simpler ways can be found to resolve problems, these should be used. Where legal action proves necessary, the Commission intends to make it as efficient and consistent as possible".
Current problems of implementation
The application of EU environmental law requires particular efforts in terms of improving infrastructure, putting in place appropriate administrative arrangements and facilitating citizen participation.
The body of EU environment legislation is broad and ambitious, covering such issues as climate change, air quality, waste management, protection of water resources and biodiversity, controls on chemicals and environmental impact assessment. It needs to be applied to a wide range of natural conditions, under very varied national and regional administrative arrangements, and in situations that often have a cross-border dimension.
These factors can lead to a number of common implementation problems, namely:
The main ways in which the Commission will act
Improvements in implementation are more likely to result from combined measures that address a number of aspects of implementation, and these will therefore be preferred.
Overall, the Communication gives specific environmental content to more general Commission plans to improve implementation presented in 2007 in "A Europe of Results – Applying EU Law".
Communication on implementing European Community environmental law
Information on implementation of European Community environmental law
 COM/2007/0502 final