Implementation and enforcement: main conclusions of the VIIth

Implementation and enforcement of EC Environmental Law: main
conclusions of the VIIth Annual Survey
Prepared by Nguyen Thi Thu Quynh
JUR 5520 – International Environmental Law – Spring 2008
The Survey, which covers the year 2005 providing up-to-date information on the
state of application of Community environmental law. It
describes the implementation of environmental legislation during 2005
(Chapter I)
illustrates the developments of infringement cases in each sector of
Community environmental law during 2005 (Annex I)
lists the national transposition measures notified by each Member State
for directives whose implementation was due in 2005 (Annex II).
It also includes a scoreboard (Annex III) that shows the number of noncommunication, non-conformity and bad application cases per Member State
and per sector.
In general in 2005 the number of infringement cases has been decreased.
Timely and correct implementation is an important priority of the EU
environment law set by the Commission. The handling of open infringement
cases have been rationalized, the number of cases dropped from 1220 in 2004 to
798 in 2005. In handling process, priority is given to tackling structural
problems, the Commission grouping together cases concerning the same subject
and launching horizontal cases to address systematic problems of bad
implementation. There are also package meeting and bilateral contacts with
Member States.
Implementation task forces were set up in Environment DG in 2005, which the
aim is to identify a comprehensive set of proactive measures to foster
implementation of nature, air, waste, water and impact assessment legislation.
The task forces has been working on the drafting or updating of implementation
action plans, including the identification and development of proactive measures
to improve implementation and the definition of priority setting criteria for the
handling of cases and infringements. (priorities identified by TF are: nontransposition or bad transposition of environmental directive; Lack of
compliance; structural or systematic problems of bad implementation…; bad
implementation cases relating to big projects, particularly funded by EU)
Legal mechanisms
Under article 226 and 228 of the Treaty the Commission can initiate
infringement proceedings against MS for failure to respect their obligations
under Community law. In 2005 the Commission issued 141 opinions and
brought 42 cases against MS.
With regard to non-communication cases, the Commission pursues as rapidly as
possible to achieve national legislation adopted quickly.
With regard to non-conformity, the Commission use an approach of strategic
annual conformity checking by outside legal experts.
In annexes the Commission provide statistics about infringement cases by
sectors, states, etc… Ex, by 31 Dec 2005 Open infringement in Air sector
accounted for 13.1% (64 cases), Impact 15.1% (74), Nature 23.7% (116), Waste
22.5% (110), Water 14.7% (72), Others 10.8%(53)
With regard to new 10 EU MS, the Commission organized several ad hoc
meeting with representatives of those countries to exchange preliminary views
on environmental sector where the correct transposition and implementation of
EU environmental directive has proven to be more problematic. In formal
meetings with NGOs were also held.
Non-legal instruments and initiatives to improve implementation
The 2002 Communication with the work is focusing on preventing infringement
by improving cooperation between the Commission services and the competent
authorities of the MS. This non-legal instrument includes the production of
interpretation and guidance documents for many piece of legislation.
There are also Environment Policy Review Group (EPRG) providing
opportunities for the heads of MS Environment Ministries to exchange vies on
key topics of current interest in the environmental domain. The discussion
looked at innovative approaches to implementation as well as best practices to
ensure the effective enforcement of legislation.
Another body that is the European of Judges for the Environment which aims to
promote the implementation and enforcement of national, European and
international environmental law from the sustainable development perspective.
The main objective of the Forum are to share experience on judicial training and
on environmental case law and to contribute to the better implementation and
enforcement of international, European and national environmental law.
Implementation networks
Informal implementation networks were established, consisting of European
regulators and inspectors concerned with the implementation and enforcement
of environmental law. The core activities include the exchange of information
and experience on the implementation and enforcement of existing EU
environmental legislation and the development of common views on the
coherence and practicality of this legislation.
Petitions and complaints
Petitions to the European Parliament and complaints help the Commission to
detect the violations of Community law by MS.
Better regulations and thematic strategies
To ensure better implementation, the Commission is more strategic in its
approach, in stead of looking into individual pollutants or specific economic
activities, now the Commission focuses on 7 themes (7 thematic strategies for
environment aiming to modernising environmental policy and legislation) that
are: Air, Waste prevention and recycling, Conservation and Protection of marine
environment, Natural resources, Urban Environment, Soil protection and
Pesticides. In addition, the Commission has also committed to improving the
lawmaking process by assessing the impacts of new proposals, holding public
consultations and ensuring that policy options are suitable for effective
implementation on the ground.