Improving the Implementation of European Environmental Policy

Today’s adoption of the Environmental Implementation Review marks the beginning of a new process in improving how environmental laws are applied for the benefit of citizens, administrations and economy.

The Commission will address with Member States the causes of implementation gaps and find solutions before problems become urgent in areas such as waste management, nature and biodiversity, air quality and water quality. Today’s package includes: 28 country reports which map national strengths, opportunities and weaknesses; a Communication summarising the political conclusions of the country reports and examining common trend; and recommendations for improvements to all Member States.

The Review shows for example that waste prevention remains an important challenge for all Member States, while six have not managed to limit the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste. Full compliance with EU waste policy by 2020 could create an additional 400,000 jobs and facilitate the transition to a more circular economy. On air quality, in 23 out of 28 Member States standards are still exceeded – in total in over more than 130 cities across Europe. There are a number of root causes common to several Member States: ineffective coordination between administrative levels, insufficient capacity, and lack of knowledge and data.

Full implementation of EU environment legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. According to Eurobarometer, 3 out of 4 citizens consider European laws necessary to protect the environment in their country, and 4 out of 5 agree that European institutions should be able to check whether the laws are being correctly applied.