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EU Enforcement Policy of Community Environmental law as presented in the Commission Communication on implementing European Community Environmental law

Marta Ballesteros

elni Review 2009, Issue 2,  pp. 53-62. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2009.008

On 18 November 2008, the European Commission issued a Communication on Implementing European Community Environmental Law. It was accompanied by a more detailed Commission Staff Working Document. The current paper is a ClientEarth legal assessment of the enforcement and implementation policy for Community Environmental law as proposed by the Commission in this Communication. The Communication reflects the extremely good work that the legal unit in DG Environment has been undertaking for years now in the implementation of enforcement actions. It also represents a new step in establishing a coherent enforcement policy for European Community environmental law in response to new challenges. However, the Communication and the underlying enforcement policy described are incomplete and are not sufficient for achieving overall compliance with Community environmental law in Member States. On first view, the Commission’s proposals seem to constitute efforts to tackle the problem of insufficient resources so that they can be used more efficiently and greater compliance can be achieved with Community environmental law. However, it might also signal the Commission’s unstated plan, or even a strategic decision, to retreat from enforcement activities and rely more heavily on Member States to enforce Community environmental law. Any such retreat would be a derogation of the Commission’s obligations under Art. 211 of the Treaty.
This article is based on a ClientEarth discussion paper presented at a round table organised by Ecosphere on the 8th of July 2009 and takes into account the information and ideas exchanged in the debate. Representatives from different services of the European Commission including the legal unit of DG Environment, and the Legal Service, as well as from consultancies, think tanks and Environmental NGOs attended the meeting.

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References

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