The Environmental Implementation Review

On 27 May 2016, the European Commission adopted the Communication on "Delivering the benefits of EU environmental policies through a regular Environmental Implementation Review". This new initiative represent a  a new tool to help deliver the benefits of EU environmental law and policies for businesses and citizens through better implementation.

According to the European Commission, a full implementation of EU environment legislation could save the EU economy €50 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment.  For this reason, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) will give the first comprehensive overview on the state of play of how key environmental policies and laws have been implemented on the ground, mapping areas of excellence and implementation problems in 28 country specific reports.

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.

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.


Implementation of EU rules is in the first place a task for the Member States themselves, but the Commission has the responsibility to oversee the application of the common rules agreed by the European Parliament and by the Member States within the Council. Enforcement remains ultimately a significant tool to ensure the proper implementation of legal provisions, but targeted compliance-promotion actions addressed to the Member States, have been initiated for several years in all sectors of the environmental acquis. Such technical, focused support remains 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.

In this context, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) initiative aims to improve the common knowledge about existing implementation gaps on EU environmental policy and law in each Member State; provide new solutions complementary to legal enforcement; address the underlying root and often cross-sectoral causes of these gaps; and stimulate exchanges of good practices. 

Copy of the Communication on "Delivering the benefits of EU environmental policies through a regular Environmental Implementation Review" is available here:




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