Category Archives: General Provisions

The Sixth Environment Action Programme, which was adopted in July 2002, sets out the EU’s priorities for the period to 2010. Four areas are singled out for priority action: climate change, nature and biodiversity, the environment and health, and the management of natural resources and waste. EU environment policy is guided by the precautionary principle and the “polluter pays” principle. Various institutional, financial and management instruments are available to ensure that it is implemented effectively. The involvement of the general public is also a key part of environment policy.

European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register and amending Council Directives 91/689/EEC and 96/61/EC [See amending act(s)].

Summary

This Regulation sets up a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) in the form of a publicly accessible electronic database. This database will meet the requirements of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, signed by the Community in May 2003.

This register is available to the public free of charge on the internet. The information it contains can be searched using various search criteria (type of pollutant, geographical location, affected environment, source facility, etc.)

Content of the PRTR

The register contains information on releases of pollutants to air, water and land, as well as off-site transfers of pollutants present in waste-water and waste. The register covers 91 pollutants listed in Annex II, including greenhouse gases, other gases, heavy metals, pesticides, chlorinated organic substances and other inorganic substances.

Releases are reported when the level of the emissions exceeds a certain threshold and results in one of the 65 activities listed in Annex I. The majority of these activities are also regulated under the Directive on industrial emissions and comprises, in particular, the establishments covered by the following sectors: energy production, mineral industry, chemical industry, waste and wastewater management, and paper and wood production and processing.

The register will also cover releases of pollutants from diffuse sources (such as transport) *.

How the PRTR works

Information gathered at national level by Member States and reported to the Commission is fed into the database on a regular basis. First of all, this information is submitted annually to the competent national authority by the operators of the establishments concerned.

Member States must also gather information on releases from diffuse sources using internationally approved methods.

Member States must then report the information they have collected to the Commission by the stipulated deadline (within 18 months of the end of 2007 for data relating to 2007, and subsequently within 15 months of the end of each reporting year). Member States are permitted to keep certain information confidential; if they do, they must notify the Commission of the type of the information that is being withheld and the grounds for withholding it.

The Commission, with the cooperation of the European Environment Agency, will provide the public with access to the information contained in the database by ensuring it is available on the internet by the stipulated deadline (within 21 months of the end of 2007 for data relating to 2007, and subsequently within 16 months of the end of each reporting year).

Public participation

The Regulation provides the public with the opportunity to be involved in further developing the register and preparing amendments.

Background

In May 2003 the European Community signed the UN-ECE Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (the PRTR Protocol).

The European register covers more substances than the UN-ECE Protocol, to take account of existing EU legislation on water and persistent organic pollutants. Furthermore, the deadlines for reporting information set in the Regulation are shorter than those laid down in the Protocol.

Key terms
  • Diffuse sources: the many smaller or scattered sources from which pollutants may be released to land, air or water, whose combined impact on those media may be significant and for which it is impractical to collect reports from each individual source.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 166/2006

24.2.2006

OJ L 33 of 4.2.2006

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009

7.8.2009

OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 166/2006 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated versionis of reference value only.

RELATED ACTS

Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (EN ) (FR )

Council Decision 2006/61/EC of 2 December 2005 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the UN-ECE Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers [Official Journal L 32 of 4.2.2006].
The Protocol was signed in Kiev by the European Community and its Member States (with the exception of Malta and Slovakia) on 21 May 2003. It is the first legally binding multilateral agreement on pollutant release and transfer registers to extend beyond the EU’s borders. The Protocol aims to establish, for each Member State, a coherent, integrated and publicly accessible pollutant release and transfer register at national level.

Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

This study reviews the implementation of Community environmental law in 2004.

Document or Iniciative

Commission staff working paper of 17 August 2005: Sixth annual survey on the implementation and enforcement of Community environmental law – 2004 [SEC(2005) 1055 – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

1. The implementation of Community environmental legislation continues to improve. This is shown by the lower numbers of complaints received and infringement proceedings regarding the environment initiated by the Commission in 2004.

2. In 2004 the Commission received 336 new complaints and launched 583 new infringement proceedings, which is significantly fewer than the figures for 2003 which were 505 and 693 respectively. Despite this decrease the environment remains the sector with the most ongoing infringement proceedings.

3. In total, the study revealed 173 cases in which the Directives on the environment had not been transposed on time (non-communication), 103 cases in which Directives had been transposed incorrectly (non-conformity) and 294 cases in which Member States had failed to comply with obligations under the Directives (incorrect application), for example through failing to comply with the deadlines for presenting certain plans, submitting data or designating protected areas.

4. As in the previous year, the areas in which most infringement proceedings were launched are nature, waste, water and impact assessments. The breakdown is as follows:

  • cases of non-communication of information occur most frequently in the air and waste sectors;
  • cases of non-conformity with Community legislation mainly concern impact assessments, waste, water and nature;
  • cases of incorrect horizontal application arise particularly in the water, waste and nature sectors.

5. Following the accession of the ten new Member States in 2004, the Commission sent letters of formal notice to eight of them in December 2004, Latvia and Lithuania having already communicated all their measures for implementing the aquis in the area of the environment.

6. In addition to actions for non-conformity, non-communication or incorrect application, the Commission has used other approaches in dealing with the Member States in order to ensure that Community environmental legislation is correctly implemented. These are mainly proactive initiatives such as guidelines and interpretative texts, measures to monitor conformity with legislation such as annual reports and collecting key data, as well as research into the most appropriate (strategic, efficient and coordinated) solutions to achieve the environmental targets laid down in legislation.

Freedom of access to information

7. The Commission has sent a Reasoned Opinion to France for incomplete execution of a Court of Justice ruling against it for failure to comply with Directive 90/313/EEC on access to information. It also continued infringement proceedings against some Member States for incorrect application of the Directive.

Environmental impact assessment

8. The Court of Justice rules against the United Kingdom for incomplete transposition of Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Furthermore, problems of non-conformity of national measures with this Directive and incorrect application of the Directive have persisted. The Commission has therefore issued Reasoned Opinions and decided to refer Italy and Spain to the Court of Justice. In addition, the Court of Justice has rules against national authorities for applying the Directive incorrectly. It should be noted that Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment had to be transposed by 21 June 2004.

Air

9. The Commission has closed a certain number of infringement proceedings concerning Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 and Directive 2002/3/EC on ozone. The Commission has also opened infringement proceedings for failure to transpose the Directive establishing an emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases, which should be transposed by 31 December 2003. Infringement proceedings have also been opened for other Directives concerning specific atmospheric pollutants.

Water

10. The Commission has opened several infringement proceedings for non-communication of transposition measures for the Water Framework Directive, which had to be implemented by December 2003. However, although a number of proceedings are ongoing against Member States due to bad application of Directive 76/160/EEC concerning the quality of bathing water, many Member States are now very close to full compliance with the quality standards and monitoring requirements laid down in the Directive. Furthermore, all Member States have now transposed Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption which repealed Directive 80/778/EC under which some proceedings are still underway. Several proceedings have been opened or have resulted in rulings being given against Member States for bad application of Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban waste-water treatment and of Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.

Nature

11. In August 2004 the Commission published a guidance document on hunting, the purpose of which was to clarify the requirements of Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds. Some conformity and transposition problems remain unresolved regarding the Wild Birds Directive and Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna. However, most of the problems with the implementation of these two Directives relate to their bad application, particularly in terms of designating special protection areas and sites of Community importance as well as a special protection scheme and protected species. Furthermore, rulings have been given against Austria and Italy for failure to transpose measures under the Directive on the keeping of wild animals in zoos.

Chemicals and biotechnology

12. A number of proceedings have been closed, including that against France for non-communication of transposition measures for Directive 2001/59/EC and Directive 98/8/EC as well as for non-conformity of national legislation with Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. The Commission has also closed proceedings brought against Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain concerning Directive 98/81/EC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms. The Court of Justice has also ruled against 6 countries for non-communication of transposition measures relating to Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms.

Waste

13. Infringement proceedings have been opened for the bad application of Council Directive 75/442/EEC on waste, and the Court of Justice has ruled against several countries for this reason, particularly in relation to individual landfills and waste planning and management. The Court also gave preliminary rulings on some questions concerning the interpretation of the Framework Directive, in particular regarding the definition of waste and what the plans to be drawn up by the Member States should contain. In addition, there are still problems of non-conformity and/or of bad application for some Community texts such as the Directive on the disposal of waste oil, the Directive on hazardous waste, the Regulation on shipments of waste, the Directive on packaging waste, the Directive on the disposal of PCBs/PCTs and the Landfill Directive. Furthermore, problems of non-conformity have resulted in several Member States being condemned in respect of the Directives on end-of-life vehicles and on the incineration of waste.

Environment and industry

14. The Commission has continued infringement proceedings for non-conformity with Directive 96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC). In addition, Directive 96/82/EC has still not been fully or correctly transposed by some Member States.

Network for the implementation of environmental law (IMPEL)

15. The IMPEL network is an informal network in which the environmental authorities in the Member States and the Commission participate. Its main objective is to encourage the effective implementation of Community environmental law. In 2004 the final report on the first IMPEL project on the transfrontier shipment of waste aroused a lot of interest among the official authorities and the media: the project, which aimed to standardise inspections in the six seaports participating, resulted in the creation of a contact network for enforcement activities, the detection of many illegal shipments and highlighted the need for an improved strategy on the transfrontier shipment of waste. In addition, IMPEL continues to work with other networks and has published several reports over the year.

Infrastructure for Spatial Information

Infrastructure for Spatial Information

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Infrastructure for Spatial Information

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Infrastructure for Spatial Information (INSPIRE)

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE).

Summary

This Directive lays down the rules for establishing, within the European Union (EU), an Infrastructure for Spatial Information (INSPIRE) whose purpose is to make it possible for interoperable spatial and environmental data and services related to these data to be exchanged, shared, accessed and used. INSPIRE aims to coordinate users and suppliers of information in such a way that information originating from different sectors will be combined and disseminated.

INSPIRE deals with spatial information such as environmental observations, statistics, etc. that are held in electronic form by or on behalf of public authorities and concern the areas where a Member State has or exercises a jurisdictional right. The information covers themes such as administrative borders, air, soil and water quality observations, biodiversity, land use, transport networks, hydrography, altitude, geology, population and species distribution, habitats, industrial facilities and natural risk zones (for the complete list, see Annexes I, II and III to the Directive).

This information should be accompanied by complete metadata * on, inter alia, the conditions under which targeted spatial information can be accessed and used, the quality and validity of such information, limitations on public access and the public authorities in charge of that information.

To make sure that this information is interoperable, the Commission must establish implementing rules no later than 15 May 2009 or 15 May 2012 (for information corresponding to Annex I, or Annex II and III, respectively). New spatial information must conform with these implementing rules within two years of their adoption, and existing information within seven years. The implementing rules must include the definition and classification of spatial objects relevant to the information covered in this Directive, and the ways in which those data are geo-referenced.

Member States will make network services available to users so that they will be able to search for, view and download spatial information. These services will be accessible via an INSPIRE geo-portal managed by the Commission at Community level, and possibly via additional access points operated by the Member States. A fee may be charged for some services. Member States may limit public access to spatial information when such access could have an adverse effect on international relations, public security, national defence, the confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities, the confidentiality of certain commercial or industrial information, intellectual property rights, personal data or environmental protection.

Member States must share the data in their possession and allow public authorities to access, exchange and use those data for public tasks that may have an impact on the environment. A fee may be charged for access, except for information required to fulfil reporting obligations under Community legislation. Member States may limit such access when it could obstruct the course of justice or adversely affect public security, national defence or international relations.

INSPIRE will be coordinated by the Commission at EU level and by appropriate structures and mechanisms designated by the Member States at their level.

The Member States and the Commission must prepare reports by 15 May 2010 and 15 May 2014, respectively, on the content and implementation of INSPIRE.

Key terms used in the act
  • Metadata: information describing spatial data sets and spatial data services and making it possible to search for, inventory and use them.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2007/2/EC

15.5.2007

15.5.2009

OJ L 108 of 25.4.2007

Related Acts

Regulation (EU) No 911/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the European Earth monitoring programme (GMES) and its initial operations (2011-2013) [Official Journal L 276 of 20.10.2010].
The GMES system is a network for collecting and disseminating information concerning the environment and security obtained from monitoring the Earth from space and in-situ. This system will assist decision-making by public and private authorities in Europe and support research.

Towards a Shared Environmental Information System

Towards a Shared Environmental Information System

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards a Shared Environmental Information System

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Towards a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 23 January 2008 entitled “Towards a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS)” [COM(2008) 46 final – Official Journal C 118 of 15.5.2008]

Summary

The environmental challenges of today – most notably climate change, biodiversity loss and managing natural resources – mean that environmental information must be quickly and easily available. Furthermore, thanks to the new technologies, it is possible to receive near real-time information, which enables decisions to be taken more rapidly and even lives to be saved.

In this Communication, the Commission lays the foundations for a European Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) to respond to the above-mentioned requirements and challenges. Such a system would gradually replace the current systems for reporting by systems based on access, sharing and interoperability. This would allow improvement and simplification of the collection, exchange and use of the data and information necessary for the preparation and implementation of environmental policy and actions.

The principle of SEIS

According to the Commission, under SEIS, the information should be managed on a decentralised basis, collected once then shared with all interested parties and be readily accessible to end-users, at whatever level (public authorities and citizens). The system should also take account of any confidentiality constraints regarding certain data, and sharing and processing should be supported through common, free/open-source software tools.

Ozone Web, a site launched in 2006, is a concrete example of the services which an open shared environmental information system can provide. This site involved the Member States providing the European Environment Agency (EEA) with near real-time ozone values in Europe. In particular, it provided experts and citizens with information on air quality as regards this pollutant and with access to information which is local or specific to certain regions.

Benefits and costs

The benefits of SEIS include:

  • simplification, efficiency and flexibility of the procedures (data and information flows) to ensure the availability of the information to fulfil the Member States’ reporting and monitoring obligations, efficiency of the use of the data and information (rapid availability and once-only collection for multiple purposes) and reduction in the workload of the authorities responsible for data collection;
  • reduction in costs for users and greater use of these data to draw up public policy and to improve its effectiveness, especially where it is a matter of reacting to environmental problems, such as adaptation to climate change, protection of biodiversity, management of water resources, and management of environmental crises;
  • empowering citizens and encouraging rapid reaction, especially in cases of emergency.

When assessing the costs of implementing the SEIS principles, it is important to recognise that many relevant activities are already ongoing, and the main challenge – and the reason why a more formal political commitment around SEIS principles is required – is to align these activities more effectively. Some further investment will certainly be necessary in order to achieve full implementation of the SEIS principles. These costs will relate in particular to the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive, making the national or Community data collection and processing systems interoperable and integrating these national systems in a “system of systems”, collecting new data that are not currently collected but are found to be essential to support policy, and harmonisation of the monitoring and data management systems. Such investments will be offset by better prioritisation of data requirements and use of data and information, administrative effectiveness, simplification and repeal of obsolete obligations.

Initiatives and measures in progress

At present, efforts have already been made for the implementation of SEIS, including, for instance, several measures to streamline the reporting requirements concerning air quality under the thematic strategy on air pollution, the review of the IPPC Directive and relations between air pollution and climate change. Other initiatives adopt a modern approach to the production, exchange and use of data and information, for example the Water Information System for Europe (WISE).

Various tools may also be mutually supporting, including the INSPIRE infrastructure concerning accessibility and interoperability of spatial data, the Aarhus agreement on public access to environmental information, the GMES initiative on global monitoring for the environment, the activities of the GEO group in respect of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, the Marine Observation and Data Network, research activities (especially eTEN, eContent and CIP), the European framework for interoperable online public services (IDABC) and the EIONET network of the European Environment Agency.

In addition, various initiatives at national, regional and local level are also helping to make SEIS a reality in specific fields.

Action to be taken

The introduction of SEIS firstly requires political commitment on the part of the Member States, with a view to mobilising efforts in a coordinated fashion towards the same integrated project. This would take the concrete form of strengthening and coordination of the activities under way at European, national and regional levels. The Commission, for its part, would give priority to the INSPIRE Directive and the GMES initiative, so that these activities become mutually supporting.

The legal provisions relating to the collection of environmental information and the way it is made available will have to modernised, in particular by revising Directive 91/692/EEC on standardising reports relating to the environment, in order to repeal outdated provisions and cover all the current environmental reporting obligations. Along the same lines, there is a need to streamline the information requirements for specific fields.

SEIS would have to be at the centre of the EEA activities concerning the provision of environmental information, including the adoption in full of the Reportnet tool and its adaptation to SEIS.

The introduction of SEIS would have to benefit from Community financial support, in particular through the Research Framework Programmes, the LIFE+ programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the Structural Funds.

The existing national monitoring systems will have to be harmonised and their planning and implementation coordinated.

In addition, the SEIS approach would then have to be extended to third countries and especially the applicant countries and the neighbouring countries.

Integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation

Integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee of 25 February 2004 – Integration of Environmental Aspects into European Standardisation [COM(2004) 130 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

European standardisation makes it possible to apply harmonised technical standards among the Member States of the European Union (EU). It thus facilitates trade in the single market.

Standardisation plays a part in the formulation of Community policies and the dissemination of technical knowledge. By integrating environmental aspects, standards can thus contribute to sustainable development and the associated Community policies.

Developments in European standardisation

European standards are voluntary documents compiled by the European or international standards organisations. This work is based on a proactive process and on a consensus among all stakeholders.

The process of compiling standards is conducted under the new approach to technical harmonisation and standardisation.

Standardisation covers an increasing number of sectors. It is now considered to be a useful tool for environmental protection, in that it:

  • has an influence on the way products and services impact on the environment, particularly in the context of the Integrated Product Policy;
  • implements standardised test methods and methods of measurement in order to facilitate the enforcement of Community environmental legislation. This is the case with horizontal standards used to simplify the measurement of levels of pollutants in sludge, as well as in soil or biowaste;
  • promotes the use of environmental technologies and supports initiatives which have environmental benefits. Standardisation can, for example, help in the marketing of technologies such as micro-cogeneration which makes it possible to simultaneously develop heat and electricity in a building;
  • draws up environmental management standards which aim to improve the environmental performance of businesses, such as the ISO 14000 series of international standards.

Europe’s ability to create environmental standards can lead to the development of international standards.

Environmental standards

The environmental quality of the standards produced in the EU can be improved. Particular attention is also focused on the quality of the standards drawn up in the acceding countries. The main aim is to:

  • improve the environmental training of the experts who compile or revise European standards and allow all stakeholders access to environmental information. The dissemination of technical know-how should be encouraged at European and national level;
  • set priorities regarding the topics to be dealt with, taking into account issues of public interest related to EU environmental policy. The Commission can use the European standardisation mandate to flag these priorities;
  • promote the active participation of all parties concerned by standardisation. The European standardisation bodies such as CEN EHD and CENELEC work on the basis of national delegations. The Member States should thus support participation by civil society and the scientific community in the process of drawing up standards. The Commission is pursuing the same objective by linking up with the ECOS consortium of environmental organisations;
  • make systematic use of tools which help integrate environmental aspects into standardisation. Regular meetings will be held to exchange experience and assess the progress made.

Incentives

The Commission wishes to encourage systematic use of the most effective integration tools. The European standardisation bodies have developed specific tools such as:

  • working groups dedicated to the environment;
  • technical advisory boards;
  • environmental databases;
  • sectoral guides and checklists written by experts for experts.

Stakeholders in the standardisation process become involved voluntarily. In order to ensure the proliferation of environmental standards, it is also necessary to enhance their market relevance.

Background

When the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme was adopted in 2002, the Commission proposed that environmental protection be taken into consideration in standardisation activities.

This communication was drawn up following an Internet consultation. Representatives from business and industry, NGOs, public authorities and standardisation organisations had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the best way of taking action for the environment.

Related Acts

Council conclusions of 1 March 2002 on standardisation [Official Journal C 66 of 15.03.2002].

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on actions taken following the resolutions on European standardisation adopted by the Council and the European Parliament in 1999 [COM(2001) 527 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

General provisions

General provisions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about General provisions

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

General provisions

The Sixth Environment Action Programme, which was adopted in July 2002, sets out the EU’s priorities for the period to 2010. Four areas are singled out for priority action: climate change, nature and biodiversity, the environment and health, and the management of natural resources and waste. EU environment policy is guided by the precautionary principle and the “polluter pays” principle. Various institutional, financial and management instruments are available to ensure that it is implemented effectively. The involvement of the general public is also a key part of environment policy.

POLICY FRAMEWORK

  • Sixth Environment Action Programme
  • Environment Policy Review – 2008
  • 2007 Environment Policy Review

TRANSVERSAL POLICY OBJECTIVES

  • Environment and health strategy
  • Ecolabel
  • Sustainable Consumption, Production and Industry Action Plan

ORGANISATIONS AND AGENCIES

  • European Environment Agency
  • Regulatory framework for the management of chemicals (REACH), European Chemicals Agency
  • Scientific Committees for consumer safety, public health and the environment

ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING

  • Towards a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS)
  • European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)
  • European Earth monitoring programme (GMES)
  • Infrastructure for Spatial Information (INSPIRE)
  • Marine knowledge 2020

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

General Obligations

  • Environmental liability
  • The precautionary principle
  • Assessment of the effects of plans and programmes on the environment
  • Évaluation d’impact de certains projets sur l’environnement
    (FR)
  • Environmental inspections: minimum criteria
  • Community guidelines on State aid for environmental protection

Management instruments

  • Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS)
  • A programme for clean and competitive SMEs
  • Environmental agreements
  • Integration of environmental aspects into European standardisation

FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS

  • Programme LIFE+
  • The operational priorities of the European Investment Bank
  • Environmental taxes and charges

APPLICATION AND CONTROL OF COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

  • Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters
  • Application of the Aarhus Convention to the EU institutions
  • Freedom of access to information
  • Access to justice in environmental matters
  • Protection of the environment through criminal law
  • Implementation of Community environmental law in 2004

Assessment of the effects of plans and programmes on the environment

Assessment of the effects of plans and programmes on the environment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Assessment of the effects of plans and programmes on the environment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Assessment of the effects of plans and programmes on the environment

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment.

Summary

This Directive, (known as the “SEA” Directive for “Strategic Environmental Assessment”) aims to supplement the EIA Directive (SK) (SL) (FI) (Directive 85/337/EEC).

The public plans and programmes covered by this Directive are subject to an environmental assessment during their preparation and before their adoption. This assessment includes the introduction of an environmental report (detailing the likely significant environmental effects and reasonable alternatives), as well as carrying out consultations (with the public, the authorities with environmental responsibilities and other Member States in the case of significant cross-border effects). The report on environmental effects and the results of consultations shall be considered before the plan or programme is adopted. Once they are adopted the authorities with environmental responsibilities, the public and any consulted Member State shall be informed and the relevant information made available to them. In order to determine any unforeseen adverse effects as early as possible, it is necessary to ensure that the significant environmental effects of the plans and programmes are monitored.

This Directive applies to the following public plans and programmes (as well as their amendments) which have been prepared and/or adopted by a competent authority and which are subject to legislative, regulatory and administrative provisions:

  • plans and programmes which are prepared for specific sectors (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste management, water management, telecommunications, tourism, town and country planning and land use) and which set the framework for development consent of projects under the EIA Directive;
  • plans and programmes for which an assessment is required under Articles 6 and 7 of the “Habitats” Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC);
  • plans and programmes which set the framework for future development consent of projects other than those under the EIA Directive (not limited to the sectors listed above) and which Member States have identified as likely to have significant environmental effects. Member States shall determine this either through case-by-case examination or by specifying types of plans and programmes or by combining both approaches.
  • Minor modifications to plans and programmes and the plans and programmes for small areas at local level, only if they are likely to have significant environmental effects.

Plans and programmes the sole purpose of which is to serve national defence or civil emergency, and financial or budget plans and programmes are not covered by this Directive.

The environmental report shall contain the following information:

  • the contents of the plan or programme and its main objectives and links to other relevant plans and programmes;
  • the existing environmental situation and its likely development if the plan or programme is not implemented;
  • the environmental characteristics of any area likely to be significantly affected by the plan or programme;
  • any existing environmental problems which are relevant to the plan or programme, specifically those relating to zones in the Natura 2000 network;
  • the national, Community or international environmental protection objectives which are relevant to the plan or programme in question;
  • the likely significant environmental effects of implementing the plan or programme;
  • the measures envisaged to prevent, reduce and offset any significant adverse effects on the environment;
  • an outline of the reasons for selecting other alternatives;
  • a description of how the assessment was carried out ;
  • the envisaged monitoring measures;
  • a non-technical summary of this information.

The draft plan or programme and the environmental report must be made available to the authorities responsible for environmental issues and to the public. The authorities and the public shall have the opportunity to express their views on the draft plan or programme at an early stage and within appropriate time frames prior to its adoption or submission to the legislative process.

The Member State responsible for preparing the plan or programme is required to send a copy of the draft plan or programme, together with a copy of the environmental report, to other Member States:

  • where it considers that the plan or programme is liable to have environmental effects on the territory of those other Member States;
  • at the request of those other Member States.

The latter may start consultations on the transboundary effects of the plan or programme with the Member State responsible, as well as on the measures envisaged to reduce or eliminate such effects.

The environmental report, the opinions expressed by the relevant authorities and the public and the results of any transboundary consultations must be taken into account by the competent authority during the preparation of the plan or programme and before it is adopted.

When a plan or programme is adopted, the Member State responsible shall inform all of the parties concerned which have been consulted and make available to them:

  • the plan or programme as adopted;
  • a statement summarising how environmental considerations have been integrated and the environmental impact report;
  • the opinions and the results of consultations;
  • the reasons for choosing the plan or programme as adopted;
  • the monitoring measures undertaken.

Member States may provide for coordinated or Community procedures in order to avoid duplication of environmental assessment in respect of plans and programmes for which the obligation to carry out assessments arises simultaneously from this Directive and from other Community legislation.

By 21 July 2006, and subsequently every seven years, the Commission shall submit a report on the application of the Directive to Parliament and the Council.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2001/42/EC

21.7.2001

21.7.2004

OJ L 197 of 21.7.2001

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 14 September 2009 on the application and effectiveness of the Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Directive 2001/42/EC) COM(2009) 469 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The report shows that Member States are just beginning to apply the Directive. Consequently further experience is needed before deciding on whether the Directive should be amended and, if so, how this should be done. Member States are allowing SEA systems and processes to settle down with a view to improving the planning process.
Overall, the SEA Directive contributes to the consideration of environmental concerns in planning processes and to better integration of environmental considerations upstream. By means of its requirements (environmental report, consultation and information of the authorities and public concerned etc.), the Directive ensures better and harmonized planning procedures, and contributes to transparent and participatory decision making processes.

Commission report of 27 October 2006 on the relationship between the SEA Directive and Community Funds [COM(2006) 639 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Following the completion of the reform of the Structural Funds 2006, every plan or programme which is adopted after 2006 within the framework of these Funds and which falls within the scope of the SEA Directive must be subject to a prior environmental assessment. This assessment replaces the environmental element of the ex ante assessment obligations for development plans, intervention measures and programme complements within the framework of the Structural Funds for the period 2000-2006. Furthermore, where no strategic environmental assessment is required, the obligatory ex ante assessment of the plan or programme must nevertheless take the environmental implications of the proposal into account.

Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters

Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2005/370/EC of 17 February 2005 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.

Summary

This Decision approves the Århus Convention (signed by the European Community and its Member States in 1998) on behalf of the Community.

The Convention, in force since 30 October 2001, is based on the premise that greater public awareness of and involvement in environmental matters will improve environmental protection. It is designed to help protect the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being. To this end, the Convention provides for action in three areas:

  • ensuring public access to environmental information held by the public authorities;
  • fostering public participation in decision-making which affects the environment;
  • extending the conditions of access to justice in environmental matters.

The Community institutions are covered by the definition of a public authority within the meaning of the Convention, on the same footing as national or local authorities.

The parties to the Convention undertake to apply the listed provisions, and must therefore:

  • take the necessary legislative, regulatory and other measures;
  • enable public officials and authorities to help and advise the public on access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice;
  • promote environmental education and environmental awareness among the public;
  • provide for recognition of and support to associations, organisations or groups promoting environmental protection.

Public access to environmental information

The Convention lays down precise rights and duties regarding access to information, including deadlines for providing information and the grounds on which public authorities may refuse access to certain types of information.

Access may be refused in three cases:

  • the public authority does not hold the requested information;
  • the request is manifestly unreasonable or formulated in too general a manner;
  • the request concerns material in the course of completion.

Requests may also be refused on grounds of confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities, national defence and public security, to further the course of justice or to respect the confidentiality of commercial and industrial information, intellectual property rights, the confidentiality of personal data and the interests of a third party who has volunteered the information, though all these grounds for refusal must be interpreted in a restrictive way, taking into account the public interest served by disclosure of the information.

A decision to refuse access must state the reasons for the refusal and indicate what forms of appeal are open to the applicant.

Public authorities must keep the information they hold up to date, and to this end establish publicly accessible lists, registers and files. The use should be promoted of electronic databases containing reports on the state of the environment, legislation, national plans and policies and international conventions.

Public participation in environmental decision-making

The second part of the Convention concerns public participation in decision-making. This must be ensured through the authorisation procedure for certain specific activities (mainly of an industrial nature) listed in Annex I to the Convention. The final decision to authorise the activity must take due account of the outcome of the public participation.

The public must be informed, early in the decision-making procedure, of the following:

  • the matter on which the decision is to be taken;
  • the nature of the decision;
  • the authority responsible;
  • the procedure to be used, including the practical details of the consultation procedure;
  • the procedure for an environmental impact assessment (if any).

The procedural time-frames must allow for genuine public participation.

A streamlined procedure has been set up for the formulation of environmental plans and programmes.

The Convention also invites the parties to promote public participation in the preparation of environmental policies as well as standards and legislation that may have a significant effect on the environment.

Access to justice in environmental matters

Regarding access to justice, all persons who feel their rights to access to information have been impaired (request for information ignored, wrongfully refused, inadequately answered) must have access, in the appropriate circumstances, to a review procedure under national legislation.

Access to justice is also ensured in the event of the Convention’s participation procedure being infringed. Access to justice is also allowed for the settlement of disputes relating to acts or omissions by private persons and public authorities which contravene provisions of national law relating to the environment.

Transposition of the Århus Convention into Community law

The Community has undertaken to take the necessary measures to ensure the effective application of the Convention. The first pillar of the Convention on public access to information was implemented at Community level by Directive 2003/04/EC on public access to environmental information. The second pillar, which deals with public participation in environmental procedures, was transposed by Directive 2003/35/EC. A proposal for a Directive published in October 2003 is intended to transpose the third pillar which guarantees public access to justice in environmental matters. Finally, a Regulation adopted in 2006 is intended to guarantee the application of the provisions and principles of the Convention by Community institutions and bodies.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2005/370/EC 17.5.2005 OJ L 124, 17.5.2005

Related Acts

Proposal for a Council Decision establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Community on the interpretation of Article 14 of the Aarhus convention [COM(2008) 174 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision 2006/957/EC of 18 December 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of an amendment to the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters [COM(2006) 338 final – Official Journal L 386 of 29.12.2006].
The amendment in question increases public participation in decisions concerning the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment. At Community level this requirement is already met by certain provisions of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed.

Environmental taxes and charges

Environmental taxes and charges

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environmental taxes and charges

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Environmental taxes and charges

The Commission is evaluating ways to promote the use of fiscal instruments by Member States to increase the efficacy of environmental policy and ensure that environmental taxes and charges are used in accordance with Community legislation.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 26 March 1997 on environmental taxes and charges in the Single Market.

Summary

In addition to framework measures harmonised at Community level, the implementation of an environmental policy also requires the provision of a number of economic, technical or fiscal instruments.

The fifth Environmental Action Programme includes the broadening of the range of environmental policy instruments as one of its key priorities. On several occasions, the Commission has been invited to explore the potential of new instruments, in particular of a fiscal nature.

Environmental taxes and charges can be a way of implementing the “polluter pays” principle by inducing consumers and producers to adopt more environmentally compatible behaviour.

The Commission has frequently encouraged the use of fiscal instruments by Member States. In this Communication, the Commission presents the applicable legal framework and sets out Member States’ options and obligations in accordance with the rules of the Single Market.

The Commission defines taxes and charges as covering all compulsory unrequited payments, whether the revenue accrues directly to the Government budget or is destined for particular purposes (e.g. earmarking).

The word “levy” is used to cover taxes and charges. A levy is considered as environmental if the taxable base of the levy has a negative effect on the environment

There are two categories of environmental levies:

  • those charged on pollutant emissions (taxes on water pollution and on noise emissions in the field of aviation);
  • those charged on products (taxes on pesticides, excise on gasoline…).

Member States have considerable room for manoeuvre in fiscal matters (the annex contains a table of current national taxes). The revenue may be used to finance environmental protection activities, but also to decrease other taxes which are perceived as distorting the economy (such as labour taxes).

However, it is important to fix the level of environmental taxes and charges at an appropriate level to ensure that they have a real effect on the market.

Member States must take into account the following provisions of the Treaty when adopting environmental instruments of a fiscal nature:

  • customs duties levied on intra-Community trade, or charges having equivalent effect (Articles 23 to 27);
  • quantitative restrictions on imports and exports of goods between the Member States, or measures having equivalent effect (Articles 28 to 31);
  • provisions on transport policy, that are less favourable in their effect on carriers of other Member States (Article 72);
  • State aid creating distortions of competition affecting intra-Community trade (Articles 87 to 89);
  • internal taxation discriminating against products of other Member States or otherwise protecting national production (Article 90) if it results from the application of objective and non-discriminatory criteria, and if the system is transparent;
  • legislation concerning excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation based on Article 92;
  • Article 174 stating the objectives of Community environmental policy: Member States must establish the need for a levy to solve environmental problems.

Member States must ensure that environmental taxes and charges are compatible with their Community obligations (competition, Single Market and fiscal policy) and with their obligations towards third countries (WTO rules)

The Commission’s strategy is as follows:

  • to collect Member States’ experiences of environmental taxation;
  • to analyse the economic and environmental effects of existing levies;
  • to monitor the effects of the levies on the Single Market and the competitiveness of European industry.

Commission control mechanisms can be triggered in various ways:

  • notification of State aids;
  • notification of areas covered by Directive 83/189/EEC (laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations), replaced by Directive 98/34/EC, and secondary Community legislation;
  • notification of national measures transposing the Directives;
  • complaints by firms or Member States;
  • the Commission’s own-initiative investigations.

Environmental inspections: minimum criteria

Environmental inspections: minimum criteria

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environmental inspections: minimum criteria

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > General provisions

Environmental inspections: minimum criteria

Document or Iniciative

Recommendation 2001/331/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 April 2001 providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in the Member States [Official Journal L 118 of 27.4.2001].

Summary

In their respective Resolutions of 14 May 1997 [EP 259.215/63] and 7 October 1997 [Official Journal C 321 of 22.10.1997], the European Parliament and the Council stressed the need to fix criteria and/or minimum guidelines for inspections performed in Member States and possible ways to enable Member States to supervise their implementation. This would foster greater consistency in implementing and applying environment legislation in the Member States.

This recommendation aims to meet this need by putting forward minimum criteria for organising, performing, following up and publishing environmental inspections. However, they are not binding on the Member States.

It covers environmental inspections of all industrial installations, companies and facilities subject to authorisation, permit or licensing requirements under current EU environmental legislation (“controlled installations”).

Inspection entails the following:

  • checking that installations comply with EU environmental requirements;
  • monitoring the impact of installations on the environment.

The following actions are planned: site visits, monitoring compliance with environmental quality standards, inspecting environmental audit reports and statements, checking premises and equipment, checking the suitability of environmental management and of the relevant records.

The recommendation lays down a general obligation on Member States:

  • to aim for a high level of environmental protection when organising and carrying out environmental inspections;
  • to cooperate with the other Member States on an administrative level in applying the recommendation.

Member States will have to plan their environmental inspection tasks and have at all times at least one environmental inspection plan covering the controlled installations on their territory. Such plans may be drawn up at local, regional or national level and must be available to the public in accordance with Directive 2003/4/EC concerning freedom of access to information on the environment. They must include: an indication of the geographical area, the period and the sites they cover, information on updating the plans, programmes for routine inspections, procedures for non-routine inspections and a plan for coordination between the different inspecting authorities.

Environmental inspections will include routine on-site inspections by the authorities, which must:

  • respect a number of minimum criteria (compliance with Community legal requirements, risk analysis based on an integrated approach which studies all the effects of the installation on the environment, enhancing the knowledge of those who run such installations as regards environmental requirements, coordination between the different inspection authorities involved);
  • be mandatory in certain specific areas (enquiries carried out following environmental complaints, enquiries into accidents, incidents or infringement cases; checks carried out before authorising a controlled activity or before renewing authorisations);
  • be recorded in reports which will be made available to the public in accordance with Directive 2003/4/EC.

Additional requirements are set for enquiries into serious accidents, incidents and infringements of Community legislation:

  • to clarify causes, environmental impact, responsibilities and possible liabilities;
  • to indicate the action to be taken to mitigate, end or prevent incidents;
  • to allow for penalties and to indicate follow-up action.

Two years after the publication of the recommendation in the Official Journal, Member States will report to the Commission on how it has been applied. The results will be made available to the public. On the basis of these reports, the Commission will examine the functioning and effectiveness of the recommendation and will assess the case for extending the scope of the minimum criteria. It will submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council and, if appropriate, a proposal for a directive. The Commission must also, in cooperation with the European Environment Agency and the IMPEL network, draw up minimum criteria concerning the qualifications of environmental inspectors. Member States should develop the necessary training programmes.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 14 November 2007 on the review of Recommendation 2001/331/EC providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in the Member States [COM(2007) 707 final – not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission has stated that all Member States have submitted a report on the implementation of the Recommendation, but that the information provided was often incomplete or difficult to compare. These reports also showed that few Member States have fully implemented the recommendation. The Commission does not consider it appropriate to make the inspections described in the recommendation a legally-binding requirement. However, it does feel that they could be improved, particularly by broadening their scope by clarifying certain definitions, laying down new criteria for the planning of inspections, simplifying reports to provide information that can be compared. Furthermore, in addition to the general criteria defined in the recommendation, the Commission feels that legally-binding sectoral requirements should be established for certain installations or specific activities. The Commission also stresses the importance of cooperation and exchange of information on projects linked to the IMPEL network.

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC [Official Journal L 275, 25.10.2003].

The European Union is establishing a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme for the cost-effective reduction of such emissions in the Community. This scheme should enable the Community and the Member States to meet the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions made in the context of the Kyoto Protocol. Installations operating in the energy sector, iron and steel production and processing, the mineral industry and the paper and card industry will automatically be subject to the emission trading scheme and will be obliged to declare their emissions of greenhouse gases. These statements are then checked, which may involve on-site inspections.

of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control [Official Journal L 257, 10.10.1996].

The European Union defines the obligations with which highly polluting industrial and agricultural activities must comply. It establishes a procedure for authorising these activities and sets minimum requirements to be included in all permits, particularly in terms of pollutants released. The aim is to prevent or reduce pollution of the atmosphere, water and soil, as well as the quantities of waste generated by industrial and agricultural installations to ensure a high level of environmental protection. Member States are responsible for ensuring that these industrial installations comply with requirements, organising on-site inspections where necessary.