Brussels, 15 May 2014
Environment: Impact assessment of projects now simplified
New legislation simplifying the rules for assessing the potential effects of projects on the environment enters into force today. The newly amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive will offer better protection for the environment while reducing administrative burdens stemming from EU law, in line with the European Commission's drive for smarter regulation. It will also enhance business certainty where public and private investments are concerned.
The new approach focuses on risks and challenges that have emerged since the original rules came into force some 25 years ago. This means more attention to areas such as resource efficiency, climate change and disaster prevention, which are now better reflected in the assessment process.
The main amendments are as follows:
Member States have to apply these rules as from 16 May 2017 at the latest. They also need to communicate to the Commission the national legislation adopted in order to comply with the Directive.
The EIA Directive aims 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, the possible impacts it may have on the environment (from either its construction or operation) are identified and assessed. The Directive also ensures the participation of the environmental authorities and the public in the environmental decision-making procedures. In particular, members of the public concerned must be given the opportunity to comment on the proposal(s) while all options are still open, i.e. before a final decision is taken on the request for development by the competent authority. When approving a project, the competent authority is required to take into consideration the results of consultations and to inform the public, notably on the measures envisaged to avoid, reduce or compensate for environmental impacts. The public must be informed of the development decision and can challenge it before the courts.
For more information:
For more information on EU legislation, see: