17th Mar 2018

MEPs to back mandatory audits for shale exploration

  • Plans to drill for shale gas will need to pass environmental tests (Photo: Jan Slangen)

The European Parliament is Wednesday (9 October) set to say that all plans to explore shale gas drilling will have to undergo audits to assess their environmental impacts.

The vote is part of a revision of the EU's 28-year-old rules on environmental impact assessments.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Under the plan drafted by Andrea Zanoni, an Italian liberal MEP, and backed by the major political groups, all projects involving the exploration or exploitation of shale gas would be subject to an assessment.

For his part, Kriton Arsenis, a Greek centre-left deputy working on the file, stated that mandatory impact assessments were needed at both stages.

“We all know that when all these chemicals fall into the subterranean aquifier, the damage is done, whether in the research phase or in the exploration,” he said.

More controversial are plans to ensure that audit authorities are independent from developers and for corrective action and compensation to be levied if projects cause environmental harm.

MEPs are also set to scrap the European Commission's plans to establish a list of "accredited experts" to verify audits.

EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the commission would also propose new rules to deal specifically with shale gas.

“If and when European countries want to do shale it should be done on an environmentally friendly basis,” she told MEPs on Tuesday (8 October).

The commission included plans to regulate shale gas as part of its 2013 work programme and still hopes to table the legislation before the end of the year.

However, with the European elections in Spring 2014, it is unlikely the bill will be passed in the current parliamentary term.

An EU official told this website that the proposal is still at the internal working stage and has not even been circulated to other departments in the commission.

The commission proposal is expected to look at ways to combat surface and subsurface risks, and harmonise monitoring and reporting requirements.

Critics of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," which involves the blasting of large quantities of water, sand and chemicals into rock formations hundreds of metres underground, say that the process can cause earthquakes and damages the water supply.

Although the United States has seen a boom in shale gas production in recent years, with gas prices falling and generating and yielding estimated 1 percent boost in GDP, there has been little movement on drilling in Europe.

A handful of countries, including Denmark, Poland and the UK, have given approval for drilling to take place.

But Bulgaria, France and Germany have imposed a ban on fracking for now.

EU ditches plan to regulate on shale gas

The EU commission has backed away from regulating shale gas extraction, leaving national governments in charge on the controversial practice.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere