Adopted 25 years ago, the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (known as the EIA Directive) should be adapted to reflect the experience gained as well as changes in EU legislation and policy, and European Court of Justice case law. The EIA Directive has been identified as a potential instrument for a future simplification exercise (COM(2009)15).
In July 2009, the Commission published a report on the application and effectiveness of the EIA Directive (COM(2009)378). The report outlines the strengths of the EIA Directive, highlights the main areas where improvements are needed and provides recommendations, where relevant.
In June 2010, the Commission launched a wide public consultation. The consultation covers a broad variety of issues (e.g. quality of the EIA process, harmonisation of assessment requirements between Member States, assessment of transboundary projects or projects with transboundary effects, role of the environmental authorities, and development of synergies with other EU policies). More information on the public consultation can be found under the following webpage.
The phase of public consultation was concluded by a Conference for the 25th anniversary of the EIA Directive. The European Commission organised this Conference with the Belgian Presidency. The Conference took place on 18-19 November 2010 in Leuven (Belgium) under the headline "25th Anniversary of the EIA Directive: Successes – Failures – Prospects". On 18/11, there was a high level panel of stakeholders, which took stock of the 25 years of implementation experience. On 19/11, the Conference concentrated on three key themes: scope of the EIA Directive, quality of the EIA process and links of the EIA with international conventions.
The event brought together all stakeholders involved in environmental impact assessments of plans, programmes or projects. Representatives from European and international institutions, public administrations (at national, regional and local level), industry and environment organisations and academics were present. The Conference provided an opportunity to get the views of stakeholders on the strengths and weaknesses of the functioning of the EIA Directive and identify the way forward. Hence, the Conference is a complement to the wide public consultation, as it seeks the views of specific and specialised stakeholders.
The findings of the public consultation and the conclusions of the Conference will feed into the Commission's review process of the EIA Directive.