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Environmental Implementation Review: European Commission adopts policy to improve European environmental policy

The European Commission adopted the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) on the 3rd February 2017. It is a new process allowing the European Commission to help Member States with the implementation of EU environmental laws. The benefits of the implementation will directly affect citizens, administrations and the economy in a positive way. The Environmental Implementation Review will focus on the reasons for the existing issues in the implementation process. From this, EIR will decide how to solve the complications before the Member State falls foul of infringement proceedings in the European Court of Justice. The EIR points to three inherent causes of poor implementation in the Member States:

1) ineffective communication between administrative levels;

2) insufficient capacity and,

3) a deficiency of knowledge and data.

The EIR looks at implementation in waste prevention, nature and biodiversity, air quality, and water quality. The challenge of waste prevention is the most critical because, according to the Commission, six Member States have been unable to limit the landfilling of biodegradable waste. Landfill contributes to the production of greenhouse gases and poisonous liquids in the environment. Another shared issue of nature and biodiversity is a concern because of the increasing loss of wildlife, which has been stated by the European Union Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats. Air quality is another area of concern, with the biggest contributing factor being transport emissions. The standards for EU air quality continue to be breached in 23 Member States. The pollution not only leads to less than adequate air quality but also to poor health in citizens. Another area of concern to be focused on with EIR is in water quality and management. A total of 13 Member States are facing EU legal action because of their inability to reach agreement with the law on wastewater treatment.

The process of the EIR is as follows:

There will be open communication about the issue areas with the Member States that will be updated regularly. A Country Report for all 28 countries will be prepared every two years. These reports discuss the observed strengths and weaknesses in implementation of environmental laws in the specific Member State. Download the implementation report for your Member State now through the interactive map here

A Synthesis of all of the results will be created and then submitted to the European Council for feedback. From here, the best possible options will be discussed to solve the priority issues. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, stated his support for the EIR during a press conference on the 6th February. The whole point of the EIR process is to enable the European Commission to be more proactive and reduce the need the need Court action in the long run. As part of the European Commission’s 10 priorities the 10 priorities of the Juncker Commission focus on making progress with the implementation of environmental law implementation in the 28 Member States.

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Issue 53