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European Commission - Press release

Environment: environmental impact assessment now more user friendly

Brussels, 17 February 2012 – To help Member States' authorities and developers manage the environmental consequences of construction projects more easily, the Commission has brought together all existing EU legislation governing environmental impact assessments. The original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and its three subsequent revisions have been combined to create a more compact, clearly translated and user-friendly version which comes into force today.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The EIA Directive is an important tool to address environmental concerns in construction project design. The changes aim at simplifying the Directive's format by making it more legally clear, accessible and easier to enforce. This initiative is part of the review of the EIA Directive, a process which started in 2010 and aims to increase the Directive's environmental protection while reducing administrative burden."

This "codification" is part of an ongoing effort to simplify the EU's regulatory environment. It means that the EIA Directive and all its subsequent amendments now form one single transparent and readable piece of legislation, without any change to its original provisions. Like the existing legislation, the codified version has been translated into all EU official languages. Translations of the new version have also been revised to eliminate any uncertainties caused by unclear wording or linguistic errors.

The European Parliament and the Council adopted the codified EIA Directive on 13 December 2011, and its text was published on 28 January 2012 as Directive 2011/92/EU.

Environmental assessment is a procedure that ensures that the environmental implications of construction projects – e.g. dams, motorways, airports, factories and energy projects – are assessed and taken into account before the relevant Member State authority makes a decision on project approval. The common principles for the environmental assessment of individual public and private projects were initially defined in the 1985 EIA Directive and amended in 1997, 2003 and 2009.

Next Steps

The EIA Directive review process will be concluded later in 2012, when the Commission will present its proposal for the revision of the codified Directive. Future changes will concentrate on the content of the Directive, rather than its format.

Background

The aim of the EIA Directive is to ensure that projects which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment are adequately assessed before they are approved. Hence, before any decision is taken to allow such a project to proceed, its possible impacts on the environment are identified and assessed. Developers can then adjust projects to minimise negative impacts before they actually occur, or the competent authorities can incorporate mitigation measures into the project approval.

The Directive ensures early public participation in the environmental decision-making procedures. During the project assessment period, members of the public concerned must be kept informed and have the ability to comment on developers' proposals, thus enabling competent authorities and developers to make well-informed decisions.

Further information:

The codified text of the EIA Directive is available under:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:026:SOM:EN:HTML

See also:

More information on the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eia/eia-legalcontext.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eia/conference.htm

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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