The environmental impact assessment process: EU norms and their reception in BiH

For the post-socialist states seeking accession to the EU, a key aspect of compliance with the environmental acquis has been the enactment and implementation of EIA legislation and processes. The benchmark against which post-socialist states intent on EU membership have developed their EIA legislation is the European Council directive (85/337/EEC) passed in June 1985, and the Council amendment to the Directive of March 1997 (97/11/EC). Although both directives raise the concern of public consultation, the framework was amended again after the Aarhus Convention, which focussed explicitly on the issue of ‘public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters’. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) drafted the document in June 1998 and the European Community ratified it in October 2001. From May 2003, the updated EIA directive (2003/35/EC) includes environmental nongovernmental organizations having an interest in the decision-making procedures and asserts that these NGOs should be consulted during the process. Annex V to the 2003 document outlines the framework for public participation: (1) the public will be informed when there is an application for a new or updated environmental permit, when a project requires an EIA, how to receive information about a project, and possible outcomes of the EIA; (2) the governing authority must provide the public with the relevant information during and after the EIA; (3) the public should be allowed to express opinions about the environmental impact to the relevant authority; (4) the results of the public consultation should be taken into account in the final decision; and (5) the state should determine the method of informing the public to ensure that the public can prepare and participate effectively in the EIA process.

How has the process in BiH changed and developed after the extension of a new enlargement framework in the Western Balkans and related conditionalities on environmental governance? What is the role of EU norms in this policy area, and how effectively are those norms enacted and implemented by domestic stakeholders?

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