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European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL)

Terry Shears

elni Review 2005, Issue 2,  pp. 8-9.

IMPEL was set up in 1992 in Chester, UK, and its original name was the Chester Network. At the time it was established, a concern had been expressed that the growth of environmental legislation was not being matched by improvements in the quality of the environment. The conclusion was that all the links in the environmental chain needed to be strong with an implication that implementation and enforcement were two of the weaker links. Furthermore, disparities in enforcement systems were seen as likely to impose unequal burdens on industry across the Community. There was a proposal that an environmental enforcement network should be created within Member States and that subsequently attention might be focused on developing common enforcement standards and approaches.
The greatest achievement is probably the creation of the network itself. As a result, there is now an EU-wide forum that allows environmental regulators, policy makers and Commission officials to come together for informal exchange of information about the practical implementation of environmental law. There is little doubt as to its value as a contribution to “levelling of the playing field” on enforcement of environmental legislation across the EU, and to development of operational systems within the Member State enforcement agencies as well as assisting in the process of capacity building.

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