In May 1993, the European Commission published a Green Paper on the compensation for the damages caused to the environment.
In April 1994, the European Parliament adopted a resolution asking the Commission on the basis of the Art. 138b of the Treaty, to submit a proposal for a Directive on the environmental responsibility.
At its 1324th meeting on 27 January 1997, the Commission had a policy debate on a communication drawn up by DG Environment. Noting the need to give a response to the resolution of the European Parliament on a possible Community action, the Commission asked that a White Paper be elaborate presenting the advantages and the disadvantages of the options, taking into account the application of the principle of subsidiarity and comprising an analysis of the effects of a Community action on the competitiveness of the European economy, SME and included financial sectors.
The White Paper was registered in the 1999 programme of the Commission, which was the subject of pressures at the time of the hearing debate of the European Parliament.
The services of the Commission organised several meetings with the national experts and the interested representatives of the professional organisations and NGOs.
The White Paper was adopted by the Commission in February 2000.
The conclusion of the White Paper was that a directive would be the best way to establish a Community environmental liability scheme.
Directive 2004/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage was adopted on 21 April 2004 and amended on 15 March 2006 by Directive 2006/21/EC. Directive on environmental liability specifically implements the "polluter pays principle". Its fundamental aim is to hold operators whose activities have caused environmental damage financially liable for remedying this damage. In addition, those whose activities have caused an imminent threat of environmental damage are liable to taking preventive actions.