The Directorate-General for the Environment is one of the more than 40 Directorates-General and services that make up the European Commission. Commonly referred to as DG Environment, the objective of the Directorate-General is to protect, preserve and improve the environment for present and future generations. To achieve this it proposes policies that ensure a high level of environmental protection in the European Union and that preserve the quality of life of EU citizens.
The DG makes sure that Member States correctly apply EU environmental law. In doing so it investigates complaints made by citizens and non-governmental organisations and can take legal action if it is deems that EU law has been infringed. In certain cases DG Environment represents the European Union in environmental matters at international meetings such as the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity.
The DG also finances projects that contribute to environmental protection in the EU. Since 1992 some 2,600 projects have received some financing from LIFE, the EU's financial instrument for the environment.
Improving environmental management at the European Commission
Since 2002 DG Environment and four other Commission services (OIB, DG HR, DIGIT and SG) have taken part in a pilot project to improve the Commission's environmental performance through the implementation of an environmental management system in line with the EMAS regulation . From 2002 to 2008, electricity and water consumption have gone down by 14 and 22% respectively. Emissions of CO2 have also decreased (7%) and so has the amount of waste generated (11%). By mid-2008 nearly half of Commission staff used public transport such as busses, trams, metro or the train. Following the positive results of this pilot phase it was decided to extend the EMAS system to the whole Commission, starting in January 2010.