Meddelelse fra Kommisjonen til Europaparlamentet, Rådet, Den europeiske økonomiske og sosiale komite og Regionsutvalget. Hvordan dra fordeler av EUs miljøpolitikk gjennom en regelmessig Environmental Implementation Review
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Delivering the benefits of EU environmental policies through a regular Environmental Implementation Review
Meddelelse lagt fram av Kommisjonen 27.5.2016
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsmeddelelsen, engelsk utgave)
1 Implementation gaps and their impact
The 2015 State of the Environment Report by the European Environment Agency states that "The foundation for short- and long-term improvements in Europe's environment, people's health and economic prosperity rests on full implementation of policies, and better integration of the environment into the sectoral policies that contribute most to environmental pressures and impacts." The Commission identified the challenges and solutions to deal with implementation gaps of environmental legislation in two Communications in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
The nature of the implementation gaps varies across different sectors and Member States. Gaps can occur because of the national environmental rules implementing EU legislation; in the achievement of agreed major objectives on air quality, water quality and biodiversity; in the completion of required waste and waste-water infrastructure; in the manner in which authorities interact with the public; in the fulfilment of safeguards such as timely completion of mandatory environmental plans, such as waste management plans; and in compliance with a broad set of rules applicable on the ground such as a prohibition on dumping waste.
As identified in the 2008 Communication on implementing EC Environmental law, the challenges that must be addressed are insufficient attention being paid to deadlines and completeness, shortcomings in knowledge and awareness, shortcomings in administrative capacities, weak national and regional enforcement policies and practices and under-investment and delayed investment in necessary pollution-abatement infrastructure.
The results of a 2015 survey of national environmental authorities indicate that there are common underlying factors causing poor progress with implementation. The main underlying reason is insufficient capacity in administrative bodies responsible for enforcing the legislation, including insufficient capacity in the organisations responsible for environmental regulation and enforcement, followed by insufficient data, evidence and information, and a lack of skills at the local level. Not least, inappropriate sanctions and a level of fines for those that breach the law that does not constitute a deterrent were mentioned.
Other factors identified in the survey contributing to poor implementation of environmental law and policy include: absence of government level coordination to ensure consistency of priorities horizontally (at governmental level) and vertically (between levels of administration, i.e. local, regional, national), and insufficient integration of environmental concerns in various policies, programmes and projects.
The root causes of the implementation gaps need to be addressed in a comprehensive, systematic and collaborative way, for at least two reasons.
First, poor implementation gives rise to environmental, economic and social costs. For example, it has been estimated that the costs of damage to health and environment caused by air pollutants from European industrial facilities exceed EUR 100 billion annually. The economic costs associated with failure to implement the environmental acquis were estimated at around EUR 50 billion a year in 2011, including costs related to legal procedures against Member States (infringement cases). This means that more than EUR 4 billion per month of unnecessary costs arise in the EU, whereas experience has shown that it is much cheaper to comply rather than to rectify afterwards the economic and environmental costs of inaction or late action. There are social and economic costs incurred through not implementing existing environmental requirements. For example, full compliance with EU waste policy by 2020 could create an additional extra 400.000 jobs and an additional annual turnover in the waste management and recycling industries of EUR 42 billion. Similarly, if existing EU water legislation were to be fully implemented, and all water bodies to achieve a ‘good’ status ranking, the combined annual benefits could be at least EUR 2.8 billion.The fact that large variations exist as regards the implementation record among Member States also creates barriers for the functioning of the internal market (an uneven level playing field for businesses).
Second, failure to meet EU environmental objectives affects the credibility of both national authorities and the EU in the eyes of citizens. The significant number of infringements, petitions and complaints in the field of environment and the challenges in handling them, reflect the insufficient level of implementation of the environmental acquis. While it should be acknowledged that the national courts and the national environmental authorities, which are primarily responsible for the implementation of EU law, have made efforts to implement and enforce environmental rules, this has not been sufficient to close implementation gaps. It is also worth noting in this context that, although there are some Member States and regions with an excellent track record in implementing the environmental acquis, others are lagging behind, sometimes significantly.
2. The need for a strategic and comprehensive approach
While implementation is in the first place a task for the Member States themselves, the Commission, as Guardian of the Treaties has its own role as part of its responsibility to oversee the application of legislation adopted by the European Union. Infringement procedures remain ultimately a significant tool to ensure the proper implementation of legal provisions, and, for several years, targeted compliance-promotion actions addressed to the Member States, in particular in areas with the poorest record of implementation, have been initiated. This was done, among others, in the sectors of waste and water management. Such focused actions remain crucial and will be continued, but should be integrated into a systemic approach meant to tackle cross-sectoral aspects, offer a comprehensive view of achievements and challenges, and define the scale and range of priorities requiring not only technical but also political attention.
Such a strategic and comprehensive approach – which is currently missing – should allow the identification and tackling of the root causes of the implementation gaps at an earlier stage and in a partnership between Member States and the Commission. Based on this diagnosis, the Commission would be ready to accompany the Member States' own efforts with technical expertise and more targeted financial support using existing EU funds.
This is aligned with the 7th Environmental Action Programme, which prioritises better implementation as an enabler to deliver on its goals and also responds to the need to offer tailored-made analysis and support to Member States and improve the understanding and awareness of implementation gaps.
3. Principles and Objectives of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR)
The overarching objective of the EIR initiative is to support the delivery of the objectives of existing environmental policies and legislation, while scrupulously securing the equal treatment of the Member States. The objectives defined in existing agreed policies and rules constitute the set of benchmarks against which the implementation progress is monitored.
The EIR process should be inclusive and participative. Member States will be encouraged to involve relevant stakeholders such as the private sector and civil society organisations and governance levels to discuss the key implementation gaps and possible solutions.
The EIR process will be flexible, first by taking into account the specific national challenges in the assessment made by the Commission, and second by fully acknowledging that the Member States have the choice of the ways and means of implementation, provided that their action leads to the attainment of the common objectives pursued by the environmental acquis and policies.
This initiative will be in synergy with the existing work on environmental implementation. The deliverables will be based on information and data that is already collected by the Commission (including Eurostat, the Joint Research Centre), the European Environment Agency, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development etc., and official national sources. Similarly, the findings of various Fitness Checks that are performed by the Commission on existing environmental legislation, including the one on environmental reporting, and the impact assessments for future legislative proposals will feed into the EIR.
The EIR will therefore be conducted by the Commission in order to:
• provide an informed and synthetic picture of where each Member State stands as regards the main environmental implementation gaps, based on a set of benchmarks which reflect the existing, agreed policy objectives and key obligations defined by the EU environmental legislation;
• create the opportunity for a structured dialogue with each Member State on the achievements and challenges in tackling the implementation gaps and about the actions needed;
• provide tailored support to Member States to improve implementation of the EU environmental acquis and policies;
• strengthen the EU's compliance culture in the area of environmental policies;
• provide an informed basis for political debates and deliberations between the EU institutions about the horizontal challenges, opportunities and possible solutions aimed at further narrowing the implementation gaps; identify and share best practices and common problems and make best use of the experience accumulated across the EU, as well as engaging with the whole range of stakeholders in actions to address the implementation gaps.
Klima- og miljødepartementet