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Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work


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

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the practical implementation of the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Directives 89/391 (Framework), 89/654 (Workplaces), 89/655 (Work Equipment), 89/656 (Personal Protective Equipment), 90/269 (Manual Handling of Loads) and 90/270 (Display Screen Equipment) [COM(2004) 62 – Not published in the Official Journal].



Directive 89/391/EEC changed the practical perspective of the protection of the health and safety of workers by introducing an integrated preventive approach and by making ongoing improvement of health and safety conditions at work a requirement. This new approach is based on the fundamental principles which the framework Directive 89/391/EEC introduced, namely, employer responsibility, prevention, information, training, consultation and participation of workers. Directive 89/391/EEC and Directives 89/654/EEC, 89/655/EEC, 89/656/EEC, 90/269/EEC and 90/270/EEC led to the rationalisation and simplification of the National legislative corpora. Transposal of the directives obliged the Member States to switch from legislation often based on remedial principles to a preventive approach based on individual behaviour and organisational structures.


Analysis of the transposal of the framework directive has made it possible to highlight shortcomings in nearly all the Member States, particularly as regards scope, employer responsibility, the principles of prevention, the extent of the obligation to evaluate risks to the health and safety of workers, protection and prevention services, the obligation to keep records of risk assessment in all types of companies and, lastly, information, consultation, participation and training of workers.
As far as individual directives are concerned, the situation as regards transposal is more positive and most of the shortcomings observed have been rectified without the need for infringement proceedings, which have, however, been necessary in certain cases.


Substantial heterogeneousness continues to exist in the practical implementation of the various directives, depending on the countries, the different sectors of activity and the size of company. Nevertheless, the primary aims of guaranteeing common minimum standards of protection through harmonisation of the recommendations on safety and health, reducing the number of accidents at work and the number of cases of occupational diseases, have been attained.

Publicity and supporting measures

Although National (action plans and awareness-raising campaigns) and European (role of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work) measures have contributed greatly to better understanding of the new legislation and better awareness by employers and workers alike of their rights and obligations, the impact of these measures varies depending on the economic players to whom they apply. While things run smoothly from this point of view in the bigger companies, this is not the case in the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where a big effort is needed.

Awareness raising

Despite the huge volume of information available, the level of information among employers and workers, particularly in the SMEs, is insufficient. Employers point to problems in understanding the legislation. This stems from the nature of the provisions, which involve establishing a general objective, and from the fact that there is no information at National level to help employers establish prevention plans tailored to the risks detected in the risk assessment.

Risk assessment, documentation and supervision

The points to be improved concerning the practical implementation of the provisions related to the risk assessment are:

  • superficial, schematic procedures place tend to focus on obvious risks, while long-term effects (e.g. psychological and psycho-social factors) as well as the more insidious risks, e.g. those caused by chemical substances, are neglected;
  • as a result, there is no overall or integrated approach to risks and measures are taken in isolation;
  • risk assessment is often considered as a one-off obligation and lacks continuity;
  • the effectiveness of steps taken is not sufficiently monitored by employers.

Protective and preventive services

Not all companies comply with their obligation to set up departments to protect against and prevent occupational risks, either by designating a worker to carry out such activities or, if this is not possible, by calling in an external service. This is particularly the case of the SMEs.
The introduction of such services is held up by the lack of qualified personnel, the low quality of the services delivered (unilateral importance attached to the technical aspects, few multi-disciplinary services) and by the tendency for employers to use the cheapest possible services.

Information, consultation, participation and training

Few data are available on information flow but it is clear that the practical implementation of the obligation to inform workers leaves a lot to be desired by comparison with the other obligations which employers have to comply with. This is the case of nearly all the industrial sectors in all the Member Stakes irrespective of size of company. The problem is particularly manifest among temporary workers. Nor is the participation of workers organised satisfactorily despite the range of options proposed by the directives.

Organisation and management of health and safety at work

The growing complexity of work processes, trends in working conditions and changes in the types of risks encountered as a result, call for a transparent and systematic approach to health and safety at work. Yet, with the exception of the bigger companies, safety and health are seldom an integral part of companies’ overall management process.


Enforcement of health and safety at work legislation is primarily a matter for the labour inspectorates, often working in conjunction with other specialised monitoring agencies in certain sectors of activity. The progress made with implementation by the Member States is generally measured taking the ratio between the number of labour inspectors in each Member State and the number of inspections performed every year. 1 400 000 inspections are carried out every year in the European Union by approximately 12 000 inspectors.

The entry into force of the new EU health and safety legislation and does not appear to have boosted the number of inspections. In their reports, the Member States point to a chronic lack of resources in their labour inspectorates to cover all aspects of the new legislation, particularly in the SMEs.

The analysis carried out shows that the action of the EU labour inspectorates actively contributes to bringing down the rate of absenteeism due to occupational accidents and diseases and also to changing the approaches of those involved in prevention at workplace level. Further progress is needed in order to improve checks in the SMEs and the high-risk sectors and in order to make warnings and sanctions more dissuasive.

Analysis of two specific cases: SMEs and the public sector


The analysis shows that there are major shortcomings in complying with essential elements of EU health and safety legislation in SMEs, in particular as regards risk assessment, workers’ participation and training, and in the traditionally high-risk sectors of agriculture and construction. These shortcomings stem primarily from:

  • the lack of information and specific (targeted information distributed locally) and comprehensible guidelines;
  • poor capacity and skills in terms of health and safety;
  • lack of resources to ensure appropriate basic training of workforce and managers;
  • poor access to effective, specific and specialised technical assistance.

The public sector

The inclusion of the public sector within the scope of the health and safety legislation is a groundbreaking development in most Member States.

Despite problems in certain countries (particularly in the military sector), the transposal of European legislation in the public sector can all in all be considered to be satisfactory. The degree to which it is implemented nonetheless poses certain problems because:

  • it is widely held in public administration that the risk levels are negligible by comparison with the private sector;
  • it is not generally for labour inspectorates to intervene in public administration or the in-house departments responsible for this function do not have enough hierarchical autonomy;
  • the budgets allocated are often limited.


The National reports show that the majority of Member States consider that it is as yet too early to make a proper and full evaluation of effectiveness. Although nearly all Member States believe there has been a positive impact, they do not have the data or statistical results available yet to substantiate that impact. Nevertheless, the evaluation that the legislation has contributed to making the workplace safer is supported by general statistical data on occupational health and safety.

Effects on accidents at work and occupational diseases

The most up-to-date statistics (for the year 2000) show that the accident rate per 100 000 workers had fallen from 4513 to 4016 since 1994. Also by comparison with 1994, there was a marked improvement in the rate of fatal accidents in Europe, which fell back from 6423 to 5237 in 2000.

The 1999 labour force survey and those conducted by the European Foundation for Living and Working Conditions, for their part, show that the active population feels that working conditions have not improved overall. A great deal remains to be done with regard to monitoring and organising work in order to head off intensive working patterns, problems stemming from working on screen, repetitive movements and psychological damage.

Costs and benefits in the enterprises

Member States have indicated in their National reports that due to the lack of indicators they consider that it is not possible to make a full evaluation, but acknowledge that a reduction in accidents at work and worker absenteeism brings about a clear reduction in business costs, which should in turn boost productivity.

General economic effects

In the European Union the costs for accidents at work and work-related illnesses are estimated between 2.6 and 3.8% of the gross National product (GNP). 158 million days of work were lost in the Union in 2000. Around 350 000 workers were obliged to change their job as a result of an accident. Nearly 350 000 workers have various degrees of permanent disability and 15 000 have been forced out of the labour market. However, the fall in the number of accidents at work since the entry into force of Community legislation is estimated to have generated savings of 25 million days of work.
So, while the implementation of this legislation may not be totally satisfactory, it has definitely produced economic benefits.

Effects on employment and competitiveness

The beneficial effects of investment in health and safety at work take some time to filter through. This makes it very difficult for the time being to draw conclusions on the impact of the legislation in question on the competitiveness of the business sector. Cost/benefit analyses will have to be carried out in order to evaluate the short and longer term effects. As an overall conclusion, Member States in their National reports generally indicate that health and safety at work measures contribute towards improved working conditions, boosting productivity, employment and competitiveness.


Positive effects, problems with implementation and suggestions for improving the various Directives

  • Framework Directive 89/391/EEC

-This downward trend in the number of accidents at work and the aforementioned increase in employers’ awareness are considered by the Member States to be the great achievement of Directive 89/391/EEC. The following positive points were also mentioned:

  • emphasis on a prevention philosophy;
  • broadness of scope;
  • obligation for the employers to perform risk assessments and provide documentation;
  • obligation for the employer to inform and train workers;
  • rights and obligations of the workers;
  • the opportunity to consolidate, rationalise and simplify the National regulations in force.

The main problems pointed to by the Member States arose in the SME context and concerned the administrative obligations and formalities, the financial burden and at the time needed to prepare appropriate measures. Other difficulties were:

  • the lack of participation by the workers in the operational processes;
  • the absence of evaluation criteria for National labour inspectorates;
  • the lack of harmonised European statistical information system on occupational accidents and diseases;
  • problems in implementing certain provisions in the SMEs.

– If the degree of implementation of the directive is to be improved then there is a need to:

  • increase the level of application of the Directives in SMEs;
  • ensure the availability of comprehensive and harmonised statistics on occupational accidents;
  • provide easy access to information and assistance for employers and workers to make them aware of their rights and obligations;
  • step up action and allocate the resources necessary to guarantee uniform, effective and equivalent implementation;
  • identify any provisions of the Directives that have been outdated by technological development and need to be reviewed;
  • focus greater attention on the specific situation of temporary workers.
  • Directive 89/654/EEC on workplaces

– The positive aspects:

  • regulation of various situations which would not have received the required attention had they not been dealt with by the European Directive, e.g. windows, translucent partitions, doors or gates opening upwards, emergency routes and exits, etc.;
  • reinforcing regulations on the employers’ obligations relating to workplaces used for the first time, and workplaces already in use.

Implementation difficulties:

  • excessive detail concerning certain aspects, this being detrimental to the proper transposal of the directive ;
  • unclear distinction made by the Directive between workplaces used for the first time and those already in use ;
  • the investment required to adopt the new provisions in SMEs.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • the need for a co-ordinated approach to the problems regarding environmental conditions, e.g. by exchange of relevant experience among Member States;
  • the establishment of guidelines and recommendations (with up-to-date data, charts and figures) in order to clarify certain aspects (ventilation, lighting, temperature, dimensions of the workplace, etc.);
  • examining the provisions which are applicable to teleworking.
  • Directive 89/655/EEC on the use of work equipment by workers at work

-The positive points:

  • minimum safety level for work equipment defined;
  • National regulations unified and harmonised, which has contributed towards simplification;
  • scope extended to a greater number of items of work equipment;
  • standards generally clearer and more specific;
  • employer awareness raised with regard to the safety level of work equipment;
  • adaptation, official approval and modernisation of work equipment in use;
  • more active prevention of risks associated with the use of work equipment;
  • better analysis of factors to be taken into account when acquiring new equipment.

– Implementation difficulties:

  • excessive cost for SMEs which do not have the necessary financial resources;
  • the need for long-term investment to adapt work equipment;
  • the practical distinction between the Directive on safety in the use of work equipment and the machinery Directive has not been made sufficiently clear;
  • the definition of various safety levels for a machine already in use and for a new machine makes it difficult to adapt it to the requirements of the Directive.

-Suggestions for improvement:

  • clarification of the various safety levels for a machine in use and for a new machine;
  • support measures to smooth over the implementation of the directive, particularly for the SMEs: financial aid, loans, etc;
  • publication of guidelines on the practical part of the provisions.
  • Directive 89/656/EEC on the use by workers of personal protective equipment

– The positive points:

  • National legislation has been standardised, simplified and co-ordinated;
  • extension of the regulations to new sectors and new equipment ;
  • obligation on the employer to assess risks before selecting individual protection equipment and a widespread increase in awareness as regards the conditions to be met by this equipment;
  • greater detail in the regulations, which entail, for instance, knowing the exact type of activities in which certain individual protection equipment is mandatory.

– Implementation difficulties:

  • lack of assistance for SMEs, which have difficulty in selecting suitable protection equipment by themselves;
  • cost of new equipment for small companies;
  • workers insufficiently familiar with the use of personal protective equipment.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • the Commission should publish specific guidelines and codes of good practice, which would include selection criteria for personal protective equipment;
  • supplement the annexes to the directive in order to make it easier for companies to choose equipment;
  • synchronisation and simplification of implementation reports.
  • Directive 90/269/EEC on the manual handling of loads

– The positive points:

  • support for existing regulations on manual handling of loads in some Member States;
  • regulations which are clear and have been generally applied without problems;
  • improvements in the level of awareness of employers (taking on board the ergonomics aspects in risk assesment);
  • these obligations have been put into practice in nearly all sectors of industry.

– Implementation difficulties:

  • job losses could result from a high level of mechanisation and costs;
  • some aspects of the Directive are considered too detailed (although this is considered a positive aspect in some Member States);
  • the possibility that a series of workplaces may cease to be considered as suitable for women;
  • the absence of standards other than those of load weight and distance, regarding rest periods and rest intervals.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • several Member States are of the opinion that limit values should be set, since the margin for interpretation allowed as regards manual handling of loads is excessive;
  • the Commission should give details concerning evaluation models and guidelines;
  • the application of ergonomics principles to the handling of materials should be given closer attention.

Directive 90/270/EEC on work with visual display equipment

– The positive points:

  • further support for control and improvement of the ergonomics aspects of workstations using visual display equipment;
  • introduction of rest periods and the workers’ right to better health surveillance, in particular eye tests;
  • these obligations have been put into practice in nearly all sectors of the industry.

– Implementation difficulties

  • a number of problems are difficult to solve (use of natural light, the ergonomics aspects of seating, the inability to neutralise certain electromagnetic fields);
  • confusion as to who is authorised to or should carry out eye tests;
  • problems stemming from teleworking and supervision of working conditions within that framework.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • it would be advisable to specify the provisions on changes of activity or rest periods, as well as the persons to whom they should apply;
  • the problems caused by electromagnetic radiation from terminals, lasers and magnetic fields should be examined;
  • various Member States consider a review of the Directive to be appropriate, in order to adapt it to technological development.


The analysis concerns the transposition and application of the framework directive 89/391 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work as well as of the first five individual directives, addressing particular workplace environments or risks. The individual directives concern in particular:

  • minimum requirements for the workplace (Directive 89/654/EEC)
  • the use of work equipment (Directive 89/655/EEC)
  • personal protective equipment (Directive 89/656/EEC)
  • manual handling of loads (Directive 90/269/EEC)
  • display screen equipment (Directive 90/270/EEC)

This report is the Commission’s response to the call made in the framework directive and in the five individual directives to “submit a report on the implementation of the various directives at regular intervals to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee”

A major input to this Communication are the National reports provided by the Member States in accordance with the directives which state that “Member States shall report to the Commission every five years (every four years for Directives 90/269 and 90/270) on the practical implementation of the provisions of this Directive, indicating the points of view of employers and workers”. It is also based on a report by independent experts.

Key figures of the act (for the year 2000)

  • Number of accidents (having resulted in absence from work of over three days): for 100.000 workers, 4016 cases (4539 in 1994);
  • Fatal accident rate: 5237 cases (643 in 1994);
  • Cost of accidents at work and of occupational diseases: between 2.6 and 3.8% of GDP
  • Days of work lost as a result of accidents at work: 158 million;
  • 7% of accident victims are forced to change jobs;
  • 4% of accident victims have to reduce their working hours or suffer varying degrees of permanent disability;
  • 15.000 workers were forced out of the employment market for good following an accident at work;
  • 14% of workers have more than one accident per year.

The European Research Area : new perspectives

The European Research Area : new perspectives

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The European Research Area : new perspectives


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

Employment and social policy > European Strategy for Growth > Growth and jobs

The European Research Area (ERA): new perspectives

In January 2000, the European Commission launched the idea of a European Research Area, combining a European “internal market” for research, truly coordinated activities, programmes and national and regional policies at European level, and initiatives designed and funded by the Union. This provided the basis for a genuine European knowledge society. Seven years later, the time has come to inject a new dynamic into the project. With this green paper, the first stage of the relaunch, the Commission is submitting its new ideas for meeting the challenges and problems still posed by the fragmentation of research, the weakness of investments and the progressive internationalisation of science and technology.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 4 April 2007 on “The European Research Area: New Perspectives” [COM(2007) 161 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Without better production and better use of knowledge, the European Union (EU) will be unable to achieve its economic, social and environmental objectives, which would signal a serious failure of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

Seven years after launching the concept of a “European Research Area”, the Commission aims to open up new perspectives to build on the progress achieved thus far.

Keen to involve all European research contributors, it is submitting its ideas for public consultation via this Green Paper.

The European Research Area (ERA)

The ERA combines three concepts:

  • a European “internal market” for research where researchers, technologies and knowledge circulate freely;
  • effective European-level coordination of national and regional research activities, programmes and policies;
  • initiatives implemented and funded at European level.

The ERA should have the following features:

  • an adequate flow of competent researchers with high levels of mobility between institutions, disciplines, sectors and countries;
  • world-class research infrastructures, integrated, networked and accessible to research teams from across Europe and the world through new generations of electronic communications infrastructures;
  • excellent research institutions engaged in effective public-private cooperation and partnerships through “virtual research communities”;
  • effective knowledge-sharing, notably between public research, industry and the general public;
  • well-coordinated research programmes and priorities;
  • a wide opening to the world, with special emphasis on neighbouring countries and a strong commitment to addressing global challenges with Europe’s partners.

Principles of the ERA

Three main principles cut across all dimensions of the ERA:

  • European research policy should be deeply rooted in European society;
  • the right balance must be found between competition and cooperation;
  • full benefit should be derived from Europe’s diversity which has been enriched by successive EU enlargements.

Achievements of the ERA thus far

Since its inception at the European Council of Lisbon in March 2000, the concept of the ERA has become a reference for European research policy, generating a number of initiatives.

Successive EU Research Framework Programmes have actively supported the creation of the ERA. The current (7th) programme has laid the foundations for two important projects: the creation of the European Research Council and a European Institute of Technology.

The European Technology Platforms (pdf ) and the “ERA-NET” scheme have helped to improve the coordination of research activities and programmes.

The “open method of coordination” and the use of guidelines and recommendations stimulate debate and reform in all the Member States.

The EU has also adopted:

  • a “broad-based innovation strategy” which will improve the framework conditions for research and innovation;

  • a new Community framework for state aid for research, development and innovation;
  • guidance for a more effective use of tax incentives for R&D.

A European patent strategy is being proposed to overcome the deadlock on the Community patent.

Initiatives have been launched to stimulate the emergence of pilot markets in growth sectors from a technological standpoint.

EU cohesion policy and its financial instruments – the Structural Funds – give strong priority to the development of research and innovation capacities, particularly in less developed regions.

Towards making the ERA a reality

Building on the progress made thus far, there is still work to be done to achieve a fully-fledged ERA:

  • pursuing a career as a researcher in Europe remains something of an assault course: researchers must overcome numerous legal and practical obstacles which still hinder professional development, particularly in terms of mobility between institutions, sectors and countries;
  • companies are still finding it difficult to establish partnerships with universities, particularly foreign establishments;
  • national and regional funding lacks coordination and will remain broadly ineffective without a genuine European perspective and transnational coherence;
  • the results of research could be used far more effectively;
  • the fragmentation of public research continues to render Europe unattractive to investors (the private sector is supposed to contribute up to two thirds of the objective of 3% of GDP set aside for research).


This Green Paper launched a wide consultation which closed in December 2007. The information collected was used to launch concrete actions to develop the ERA the implementation of which started in 2008.

Related Acts

Results of the public consultation on the Green Paper “The European research Area : New perspectives” of 2 April 2008 (pdf ).
This report highlights the necessity to undertake new action at national and/or European level in order to fully exploit Europe’s potential research capacity and to make the ERA a reality. Respondents consider that the sharing of knowledge, research infrastructures, international cooperation, programming and the mobility of researchers should be among the priorities of the EU. They also consider that the role of the private sector should be taken into account even further due to its links with innovation and education policy. Even if few request strict legislation, many are favourable to the idea of legislative action to improve the careers and mobility of researchers or to establish a legal framework for European research infrastructures. Respondents approve Community instruments aimed at promoting the ERA, such as financial incentives, budgetary increases (the 7th Framework Programme has a total budget of EUR 54 billion), guidelines, etc.

Following this consultation, five initiatives concerning the ERA came to fruition in 2008:

  • a Recommendation for the management of intellectual property by public research organisations;
  • a Partnership for researchers;
  • a legal framework applicable to pan-European research infrastructures;
  • Joint Programming in Research;
  • a strategic framework for international science and technology cooperation.

In addition to the above initiatives, the Council has decided to reinforce the dimension of the ERA through the launch of the new cycle (2008-2010) of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. In their programmes for national reform, the Member States are invited to define policies which will contribute to the development of the ERA.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, to the European Parliament, to the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 January 2000: “Towards a European Research Area” [COM(2000) 6 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

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.