EIR 2019: Selection of key facts on the state of implementation of environmental laws in Europe



− 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

as possible.

− 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).



− 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.



Air quality/noise

− 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.

Industrial Emissions

− 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.




− Financial incentives and economic instruments, including phasing out of

environmentally harmful subsidies, offer an effective and efficient way of achieving

environmental objectives.

− 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

Member States.



− 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

environmental legislation.

− 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

multicounty workshops.

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 - 92


About Us

#EUGreenWeek 2019, 13-17 May Environmental laws have a huge impact on our life. They improve water and air quality, they protect nature, and they encourage recycling and waste management. But to really make an appreciable difference, these EU laws have to be properly implemented. The next edition of EU Green Week (13-17 May 2019) will put this process of environmental implementation into the spotlight. The event will be built around the findings of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), a set of reports on the state of implementation of environmental laws in Europe published by the European Commission in April 2019, asking questions such as: - What benefits do EU environmental laws bring for citizens?- What does successful implementation look like?- Where are the problem areas?- How can stakeholders take ownership of these laws? Most importantly, it will be looked at how the EU can facilitate the process, making sure that the voices of citizens are heard. EU Green Week 2019 will include events across Europe, with the official opening event on 13 May in one of the Member States and a high-level summit in Brussels from 15 to 17 May. The opening event will have a particular prominence, setting the tone for the Week's debates. The closing of Green Week will take place at the end of the Brussels Conference and will showcase the political conclusions from the Week.