Environmental Implementation Review: Commission helps Member States to better apply EU environment rules to protect citizens and enhance their quality of life
Brussels, 5 April 2019
An initiative to improve the application of EU policies and rules on the circular economy, nature and biodiversity, air quality, and water quality and management.
Today, the Commission published the second Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), part of its
initiative launched in 2016 to improve the implementation of European environmental policy and
commonly agreed rules in all EU Member States. Implementing EU environmental policy and law is not
only essential for a healthy environment, but also opens up new opportunities for sustainable economic
growth, innovation and jobs. Full implementation of EU environmental legislation could save the EU
economy around €55 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "The Juncker
Commission is committed to building a Europe that protects. Making sure that the air, water and waste
management our citizens enjoy are of best quality and our natural capital is protected is our priority.
The Environmental Implementation Review is there to help Member States to make that happen by
providing them with the information and the tools they need."
The Review maps out the situation of environmental policies and rules implementation in each EU
country and identifies the causes of implementation gaps. It helps to find solutions before problems
become urgent and aims to assist national decision-makers by outlining the priorities requiring their
attention. All Member States have made use of the EIR P2P Peer-to-Peer programme established in
2017 which facilitates learning between environmental authorities.
The package includes: 28 country reports showing the state of play in the implementation of EU
environmental law, as well as opportunities for improvement in each Member State; and a
Communication drawing conclusions and defining common trends at EU level, as well as
recommendations for improvements to all Member States with key priority actions.
State of play in main policy areas
The Review shows that eighteen Member States continue to struggle with high levels of nitrogen oxide
(NOx) emissions and fifteen countries need to further reduce emissions of particulate matter (PM2.5
and PM10).Given the impact of air pollution on health, in line with its communication of May 2018 “A
Europe that protects: clean air for all”, the Commission has engaged in clean air dialogues with several
EU countries, in addition to more targeted enforcement actions.
While overall the policy framework for the circular economy has been strengthened waste prevention
remains an important challenge for all Member States. On waste management, nine countries are on
track and five have already reached the recycling targets, but fourteen are at risk of missing the 2020
municipal waste recycling target. Sound and efficient waste management systems are an essential
building block of our circular economy.
Where water is concerned, much remains to be done to fully achieve the objectives of the water
directives, and in particular good status for our water bodies until 2027. Urban wastewater is still not
treated properly in two thirds of Member States. Increased investments are essential to meet these
objectives and EU funds will continue to back up implementation efforts.
When it comes to the protection of nature and biodiversity, the Natura 2000 network has continued
to expand on land and at sea. The EU has already surpassed the target of defining 10% of its coastal
and marine areas as Marine Protected Areas by 2020 as set by the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Nevertheless, most Member States need to speed up their efforts for the completion and management
of the Natura 2000 network.
Regarding climate change, Member States have made good progress in implementing EU climate
legislation and the 2020 targets are likely to be met. Nevertheless, efforts in each Member State and at
EU level need to be intensified to comply with our international commitments under the Paris
Agreement and prevent the worst consequences of climate change.
The Environmental Implementation Review put in place a new tool – the Peer-to-Peer programme -
to stimulate environmental authorities from different Member States to learn from each other's
experiences across borders. Since its launch, all Member States were involved in at least one event
covering circular economy, air quality, timber regulation, nature and biodiversity, and water quality
The Review also assesses some enabling factors that could drastically improve implementation, such as
environmental governance. The Commission calls upon Member States to improve the integration of
environmental objectives with other policy goals, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public
administration, and to be more transparent with environmentally relevant information. There is also
scope to further engage regional and local authorities and other stakeholders in tackling the main
The first Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) package was adopted in February 2017. The
Environmental Implementation Review works along the Commission's Better Regulation policy,
focusing on improving implementation of existing legislation and policies. Since its adoption, many
Member States have organised national Environmental Implementation Review dialogues on the
priority themes identified in their reports. In many cases, regional and local authorities and key
stakeholders have been involved. When commonly agreed rules are not properly implemented, the
Commission can take legal action. In order to avoid this route, the Commission works with Member
States to enable them to better apply environmental policies and rules, through the process of the
Environmental Implementation Review.
For More Information
Enrico BRIVIO (+32 2 295 61 72)
Stephan MEDER (+32 2 291 39 17)