EIR 2019: Selection of key facts on the state of implementation of environmental laws in Europe
DEFINITION, OBJECTIVES AND BENEFITS OF EIR
− The Environmental Implementation Review aims at improving implementation in the
field of EU environmental policy and legislation by identifying the causes of
implementation gaps and addressing systemic obstacles to environmental integration
across policy sectors. It maps the main challenges for each Member State, as well as
existing good practices.
− When commonly agreed rules are not properly implemented, the Commission can
take legal action and often has no other choice. Nevertheless, in order to improve the
chances of better and timely implementation (infringements correct breaches of EU
law after these happen), the Commission came up with the Environmental
Implementation Review, to enable EU countries to find tailor made solutions as early
− Implementation of EU environmental policy and law is essential for a healthy
environment and can create new opportunities for economic development and green
− A new study estimates that the total costs for society of current environmental
implementation gaps are around EUR 55 billion annually
− The Commission is committed to supporting the Member States to improve
environmental implementation, for instance through the peer-to-peer tool and
bilateral dialogues. The success of these tools requires active engagement of
regional and local authorities and of other stakeholders.
− In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action
Plan, which includes measures that will help stimulate Europe's transition towards a
circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth
and generate new jobs.
− The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy establishes a concrete and ambitious
programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and
consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and
a revised legislative proposal on waste. The annex to the action plan sets out the
timeline when the actions will be completed. The proposed actions will contribute to
"closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and
bring benefits for both the environment and the economy.
− While the EU policy framework for circular economy has been strengthened, there is
still room for improvement on implementation in different areas, including waste.
− On waste, the recycling target of 50% of municipal waste by 2020 has been reached
by 5 EU Member States, while several others are at risk of missing it.
− Waste prevention remains an important challenge: average generation of municipal
waste has increased in the EU since 2014.
− EU climate legislation aims to contribute to a more climate-resilient Europe through
better preparedness and a stronger capacity to respond to the impacts of climate
change at local, regional, national and EU levels.
− Overall, there is a good level of implementation of climate legislation throughout the
EU, although efforts in each Member State and at EU level need to be intensified to
prevent and/or minimise damage caused by climate change.
− Full implementation of EU climate legislation would cut EU emissions around 45 %
by 2030 (as compared to 1990).
PROTECTION OF NATURE & BIODIVERSITY
− The EU has already achieved the 2020 target of the UN Convention on Biological
Diversity of 10% of coastal and marine areas covered by protected areas. On land
Natura 2000 network continued to expand, reaching now 18% of terrestrial areas.
Despite this progress, most Member States need to speed up effort for completion
and good management of Natura 2000 network.
− Biodiversity loss continues in the EU, even if some progress has been achieved at
local level. Significant gaps in Member State’s performance on implementation,
enforcement, financing and policy integration are affecting efforts to protect European
ecosystems from pressures, such as inappropriate agricultural practices, urban
sprawl or spread of invasive alien species.
CITIZENS’ HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
− While air quality in Europe has improved over the last decades, most Member States
need to accelerate reductions of emissions, particularly from transport and
agriculture, and to promote cleaner energy production.
− Since 2017, Member States and the Commission have engaged in a round of
dialogues focused on air quality. By the end of 2018, six “Clean Air Dialogues” had
been organised to address specific challenges in the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain.
− The Industrial Emissions Directive aims to ensure a high level of protection for
human health and the environment while enhancing innovation and competitiveness.
Many breakthrough technologies are being deployed, helping to achieve significant
reductions in pollutants, but challenges remain: industry emissions from the power
sector are the main air and/or water pollution sources in 11 Member States, while in
7 countries the largest share of emissions comes from the poultry and pigs rearing
sector, and for 2 countries those are iron and steel plants. Emissions from waste
treatment activities remain a concern in three Member States.
− Although a number of Member States have taken good measures, much remains to
be done to fully achieve the objectives of the EU water legislation, including on urban
waste water, flooding or river basins management. Increased investments, including
from EU funds, will be essential to meet the objectives.
− The environmentally sound management and safe use of chemicals is the primary
focus of the EU chemical legislation. Member States are strengthening their
cooperation to enforce the legislation.
GREEN TAXATION, GREEN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL
− Financial incentives and economic instruments, including phasing out of
environmentally harmful subsidies, offer an effective and efficient way of achieving
− In several Member States, the main challenge for environmental financing is to
ensure that it remains at an adequate level; while in others there is an issue with the
effective use of EU funds, sometimes caused by insufficient capacity of the
− Dedicated funding is often necessary to achieve environmental goals – within the
European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), ‘environmental protection and
resource efficiency’ constitutes the highest allocation in the 2014-2020 period in 12
GOVERNANCE/ ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRATION
− In several Member States, environmental authorities are understaffed and this lack of
capacity and resources affects their ability to implement and enforce.
− Member States can further improve their overall environmental governance. This
includes transparency, access to information or ensuring that NGOs can bring legal
challenges on environmental issues. It also includes improving resources and
capacity of the different levels of administration to effectively enforce and implement
− Better environmental integration can be achieved if environmental concerns are
taken into consideration in the framing and execution of other public policies, such as
energy, transport and agriculture.
− The TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER is a tool for peer learning. It fosters the improvement
of environmental implementation by environmental authorities.
− TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER expert exchanges can address all issues covered by the
EIR country reports: for example circular economy and waste management, nature
protection, biodiversity, green infrastructure and soil protection, improvement of air
quality, water quality and management, sustainable urban development. They can
also deal with common root causes of implementation gaps, such as administrative
capacity, skills, coordination mechanisms, access to justice, environmental liability,
compliance assurance as well as reporting and sharing of environmental information
or other aspects of environmental governance.
− TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER tool has seen a successful start in 2018. All Member
States were involved in at least one event, and more than 50% of the events were
19 projects were executed in 2018. Most P2P projects so far are on circular
economy, waste and air.Federica Drobnitzky+32 2 5 04 07 - email@example.com