Helping public authorities to ensure environmental compliance

The European Union (EU) has adopted rules that allow all its citizens to enjoy clean water, clean air and a healthy environment. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey , the vast majority of citizens ask the EU to ensure the application of its environmental standards throughout Europe.

“Environmental legislation must be respected by companies and citizens, in order to avoid higher health costs, lower public income and unfair competition between companies.”
In various European countries, various public authorities are responsible for the promotion, monitoring and implementation of EU environmental legislation. These authorities, however, often clash with inefficient national systems, a lack of adequate technical knowledge, a lack of interest from citizens and unsuitable evaluation procedures.

Through its nine-point action plan to guarantee environmental compliance, the European Commission now intends to help public authorities to promote, monitor and best apply environmental legislation.

An active involvement
One of the objectives of the plan is to stimulate collaboration between inspectors and public officials from different countries. For example, environmental inspectors already carry out joint checks on waste shipments across the EU right now: it is a practice that the Commission aims to strengthen and replicate in other areas.

Training and skills are also among the priorities, as is the correct management of waste and the fight against crimes against wild species, for which specific guidelines are provided. As far as rural areas are concerned, a series of guidelines will help to ensure that farmers and land managers comply with environmental standards within the framework of EU nature and water legislation, so as to ensure the protection of rivers, lakes and water basins and rare species and habitats.

Among other planned actions, mention should be made of the creation of technical guidelines for inspections of mining waste storage facilities, improvement of citizen complaint management and promotion of satellite imagery and other geospatial data sources to detect offenses concerning waste disposal or land use and other infringements.

The actions will start from the work carried out by IMPEL (European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law, the European network for the implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation), EnviCrimeNet (the network of police officers specialized in environmental crimes), ENPE (European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment, or the European network of environmental prosecutors), EUFJE (European Union Forum of Judges for the Environment, European forum of judges for the environment) and EUROSAI (European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions, the European organization of supreme audit institutions), all actively involved in the implementation of the action plan.