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Brussels, 14 March 2011

Environment: Commission asks Lithuania to comply with EU legislation on strategic environmental impact assessments

The European Commission is urging Lithuania to bring its national legislation on assessing the effects of plans and programmes on the environment into line with EU rules. The existing legislation on strategic environmental assessments in Lithuania contains a number of shortcomings. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion. Lithuania has two months to comply. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

The Commission is asking Lithuania to improve its implementation of Directive 2001/42/EC (the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive), legislation that assesses the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment. In April 2008 and in October 2009 the Commission notified Lithuania that its national legislation was not entirely in line with the Directive, and that it contains a number of shortcomings.

Lithuania has rectified some of the earlier shortcomings identified by the Commission, but certain detailed territorial plans are still excluded from the scope of the legislation. Under the Directive, the public should receive adequate information to understand the plans and programmes and be able to effectively express their opinion, but this opportunity is not fully provided under current Lithuanian law.

Background: the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive

Under the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, plans and programmes made by authorities at national, regional and local levels, and which are likely to have significant effects on the environment, are required to undergo an environmental impact assessment. This enables environmental considerations to be integrated into the preparation and adoption of these plans and programmes, while also contributing to sustainable development.

The assessment takes place during the preparation of plans and before adoption. It includes an environmental report detailing the likely significant environmental effects and reasonable alternatives, and consultations with the public, the authorities with environmental responsibilities, and with other Member States if significant cross-border effects are a possibility. It is therefore a significant information tool for EU citizens.

Further information

For current statistics on infringements in general:

See also MEMO/11/162

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