22nd Mar 2018

EU to scrutinise environmental action

  • Oostvaardersplassen, a Natura 2000 in the Netherlands. According to EEB, Natura 2000 sites above all need more manpower and resources to comply with the law. (Photo: Peter Galvin)

The failure of EU states to comply with European environment law comes at the cost of 50 billion euros a year, according to a new report.

The European Commission - the guardian of EU treaties, which has to ensure that member states follow EU law - hopes to upgrade implementation with a new reporting tool.

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 European Implementation Review (EIR) that was launched on Friday (27 May), the commission will evaluate implementation of the EU environmental acquis and highlight weaknesses and obstacles that prevent rules from working efficiently. The EU executive will also present country-specific recommendations.

”We want to help member states to apply regulation in more efficient way,” a commission spokesman told EUobserver.

He said the system was ”a bit like the economic semester”, the mechanism that monitors and coordinates member states' economic and fiscal policies.

”We will anticipate problems, find solutions, help member states apply EU regulation,” he said.

The review will build on close relations with the Committee of Regions (CoR), an assembly that represents local authorities and cities in Europe.

”The EU has some of the best environmental laws in the world, they are very complete,” Andres Jaadla, a liberal CoR member, told EUobserver.

The problem lies in the execution, he added.

”Local, national authorities are working a bit like railway tracks - they run but never connect,” Jaadla said.

”They collect data but don’t share it with each other.”

He welcomed the initiative and believed it would strengthen coordination.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), an environmental watchdog, also welcomed the proposal but said the real problem to implementing environmental rules lied in a lack of resources.

“This is a useful first step but needs to be followed up with decisive and effective enforcement actions, supported by sufficient resources,” said Pieter de Pous, EEB policy director.

Sometimes laws aren’t implemented because of insufficient resources. The EEB said that the EU nature protection areas - the Natura 2000 sites - first and foremost need more staff to be kept in shape.

Lawsuit as last option

The commission’s proposal comes amid a trend of non-governmental organisations to rely on legal action to ensure the observance of laws.

Those NGOs told EUobserver they couldn't rely on the morality of states to fulfil their obligations.

But the commission spokesman said legal recourse should be the last option.

”We try to avoid infringement procedures. They are time-consuming and costly. We always hope that the member state will apply legislation without having to resort to litigation”, the EU official said.

If a member state lacked good will, however, ”we can always open infringement procedures”, the spokesman added.

The first EIR reports are expected for late 2016, the exercise will be repeated every second year.

End company-car perks, says EU commission

The European Commission tells member states that they should phase out tax breaks for privately used company cars and put in place low-emission zones to improve air quality.

Member states vary in EU 'polluter pays' rules

An EU directive aimed at supporting the "polluter pays principle" has resulted in a patchwork situation, but the European Commission is not yet ready to propose a change.

News in Brief

  1. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  2. Italy's centre-right set to share top posts with 5-star movement
  3. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  4. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  5. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  6. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU
  7. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  8. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  2. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  3. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  4. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  5. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  6. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  7. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  8. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions