Implementation of EU Law

Environmental legislation is a significant part of EU legislation and its implementation is fraught with difficulties. EU environmental law is applicable to a variety of natural conditions, under very varied national and regional administrative arrange- ments.19 There are also significant differences between Member States as regards their views about the function and importance of environmental legislation. The same applies to the resources allocated to implementation and supervision of com- pliance.20 There are obviously significant problems and shortcomings. Among the specific problems identified by the Commission is that deadlines and completeness of implementing measures are not sufficiently observed in adopting national and regional legislation. The Commission also points out that administrative capacity is insufficient, and national and regional strategies and methods for enforcement are weak. Examples of special challenges are illegal landfills in some Member States and the fact that many European cities’ air quality does not yet meet EU standards.21

National measures to implement EU environmental directives should be reported to the Commission, which under Article 17 TEU is to monitor the application of Union law. To make these national reports uniform, detailed, and sufficiently comprehensive, Directive 91/692/EEC standardising and rationalising reports on the implementation of certain environmental directives was adopted in 1991.22 According to its Article 2, Member States shall every three years forward a report to the Commission on the implementation of directives in different environmental areas. These national reports are considered not to have led to any significant improvement in the implementation of environmental directives.23 The Commission usually publishes an annual report on its supervisory function^4

Since 1992, an informal network of representatives of the Member States’ responsible bodies for the protection of the environment and the Commission, IMPEL, has promoted more efficient implementation of EU environmental legislation. Since 2008, IMPEL has been an international non-profit association established under Belgian law. In addition to representatives of Member States’ environmental authorities, relevant authorities from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Iceland, Kosovo, Albania, Switzerland, and Norway are represented. IMPEL’s purpose is to contribute to the protection of the environment by promoting the efficient implementation and application of EU environmental law. This should be achieved, inter alia, by promoting information and experience exchange between environmental authorities, promoting networking among those authorities, and implementing joint projects relating to environmental law enforcement.

IMPEL has a General Assembly, which adopts overall policy decisions, and a board. The network is assisted by a secretariat located in Brussels. The work is mainly in the form of projects and organised in ‘thematic areas’. In 2015, IMPEL worked within five such areas: industry regulation, waste and transfrontier shipment of waste (TFS), water and land, nature protection, and cross-cutting tools and approaches.25

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