Tag Archives: Application

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


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].


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making

Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making


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

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making

Document or Iniciative

Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making.


This Interinstitutional Agreement concerns the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Commission. This Agreement establishes the general principles and arrangements for cooperation between the institutions, particularly during the legislative process. The Agreement aims to optimise the drafting and implementation of Union law.

Improving interinstitutional cooperation and transparency

The three institutions have agreed first of all on better coordination of the legislative process. This means that they will inform each other in good time of their plans and their work, for example by means of their annual legislative timetables or by synchronising the handling of common dossiers by the preparatory bodies in each institution.

The three institutions undertake to improve transparency and the accessibility of information for the public, for example by more broadcasting of public debates, through the systematic use of new communication technologies, by giving the public greater access to Eur-Lex and lastly by holding joint press conferences once they have reached agreement during the ordinary legislative procedure.

For each proposal the Commission will explain and justify to the European Parliament and to the Council its choice of legislative instrument and the legal basis. It will ensure that the measure proposed is simple and necessary.

Promoting co-regulation and self-regulation

The EU legislates only where it is necessary. It is sometimes useful to resort to alternative methods of regulation, such as co-regulation or self-regulation.

Co-regulation is a mechanism whereby attaining the objectives laid down in a legislative act is entrusted to parties which are recognised in the field (economic operators, social partners, non-governmental organisations, etc.). The basic legislative act therefore defines the framework and extent of the co-regulation. The parties concerned are then able to conclude voluntary agreements between themselves in order to achieve the objectives of the legislative act.

Self-regulation means the possibility for economic operators, the two sides of industry, non-governmental organisations or associations to adopt amongst themselves and for themselves common guidelines at European level. These guidelines may, for example, take the form of a code of conduct or a sectoral agreement. They do not generally imply that the European institutions have adopted any particular stance. However, the latter reserve the right to adopt a legislative act when it concerns an area for which the EU has competence.

Improving the quality of legislation

The three institutions have undertaken to produce legislation that is clear, simple and effective. The Commission is asked to conduct pre-legislative consultations and to make public the results of those consultations. It will continue to carry out impact assessments for major items of draft legislation, in order to evaluate their social, economic and environmental consequences. If the European Parliament or the Council makes a substantial amendment, an assessment of the impact of that amendment is desirable. In order to improve the consistency of texts, legal verification needs to be carried out before an act is finally adopted.

Improving the transposition and application of Union law

In order to encourage Member States to transpose Union law properly within the prescribed period, Directives must contain a binding time limit of not more than two years for the transposition of their provisions into national law. If a Member State fails to do this, the Commission can launch an infringement procedure. It will draw up annual reports on the transposition of Directives in the various Member States.

Simplifying legislation

Legislation can be simplified in various ways: by repealing acts that are no longer applied or through the codification or recasting of acts. Codification (or consolidation) is a procedure that consists of repealing the acts concerned and replacing them with a single act containing the unchanged substance of those acts. Recasting consists of the adoption of a new legal act incorporating in a single text both the substantive amendments it makes to an earlier act and the unchanged provisions of that act. The new legal act replaces and repeals the earlier act.


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

Interinstitutional Agreement


OJ C 321 of 31.12.2003

Related Acts

Interinstitutional Agreement of 22 December 1998 on common guidelines for the quality of drafting of Community legislation [OJ C 73 of 17.3.1999].
This agreement lays down guidelines for the quality of the drafting of Community legislation. For example, all acts are drawn up in accordance with a standard structure (title, preamble, enacting terms, annexes). The content of acts must be drafted in a concise and homogenous manner.

Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 December 1994 on an accelerated working method for official codification of legislative texts [OJ C 102 of 4.4.1996].
This interinstitutional agreement points out that codification does not involve any substantive amendment of the acts concerned. Proposals for codification from the Commission are to be examined by the European Parliament and the Council by means of an accelerated procedure.

Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts [OJ C 77 of 28.3.2002].
This interinstitutional agreement lays down the rules for recasting, which must be justified on grounds explicitly set out in the explanatory memorandum. Precise indications must be given as to which provisions of the previous act remain unchanged.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.



Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Directive


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

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions


The directive forms part of the secondary law of the European Union (EU). It is therefore adopted by the European institutions in accordance with the founding Treaties. Once adopted at European level, the directive is then transposed by Member States into their internal law.

A binding act of general application addressed to the Member States

Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states that a directive is binding. Like the European regulation or the decision, it is binding upon those to whom it is addressed. It is binding in its entirety and so may not be applied incompletely, selectively or partially.

However, a directive is distinct from a decision or a regulation. While a regulation is applicable in Member States’ internal law immediately after its entry into force, a directive must first be transposed by the Member States. Thus, a directive does not contain the means of application; it only imposes on the Member States the requirement of a result. They are free to choose the form and the means for applying the directive.

Furthermore, a directive also differs from a decision as it is a text with general application to all the Member States.

Moreover, Article 289 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) specifies that a directive is a legislative act when it is adopted following a legislative procedure. In principle, a directive is therefore the subject of a Commission proposal. It is then adopted by the European Council and the Parliament in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure or the special legislative procedure.

A directive enters into force once it has been notified to the Member States or published in the Official Journal.

A legal act which must be transposed

This is a two-tier legal act which comprises:

  • the directive proper, issued by the European institutions;
  • national implementing measures, issued by the Member States.

Entry into force does not in principle imply direct effect in national law. In order for this to happen, a second stage is necessary: transposition. Transposition is carried out by the Member States; it means adopting national measures to enable them to achieve the results stipulated by the directive. The national authorities have to notify the Commission of these measures.

Solutions found to deal with failure to transpose a directive properly

In principle, a directive must be transposed by a deadline set by the institutions (between six months and two years). Once the deadline has passed:

  • the Commission may ask the Court of Justice to rule against a Member State (failure to comply with the Court’s ruling may lead to a further negative ruling, which could result in fines).
  • under certain circumstances, the Court of Justice has also allowed individuals the possibility of redress where directives have been transposed poorly or late (see its judgment in the case of Francovich and Bonifaci of 19 November 1991).
  • the Court of Justice considers that a directive has direct effect (i.e. an individual may rely on it in court).

A directive has vertical direct effect once the deadline for transposition has passed. This means that an individual may rely on the text against a Member State in court. However, it does not have horizontal direct effect (i.e. an individual may not rely on the text against another individual in court).

However, the Court of Justice has established several conditions so that an individual may refer to a directive before the courts, specifically:

  • the provisions of a directive are unconditional and sufficiently precise;
  • the directive shall not have been correctly transposed by a national measure by the set deadline.