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Legal Enforcement

Compliance promotion

DG Environment sees compliance promotion as a key activity to achieve better and timely implementation of EU environment legislation and avoiding or reducing the incidence of environmental infringements. DG Environment promotes closer cooperation with Member States with more pro-active approach covering the legislative life-cycle.

Compliance promotion finds its roots in the 2007 Commission Communication "A Europe of results" – Applying Community Law which called for improvements in its organisation of the work with the Member States to ensure the correct application of EU law. It called for increased attention to implementation throughout the policy cycle with the help of preventive measures.

In the area of environment, compliance promotion policy and ideas are reflected in new the 2012 Commission Communication on Improving the delivery of benefits from EU environment measures: building confidence through better knowledge and responsiveness and the 2008 Commission Communication on implementing European Community Environmental Law.  The two communications are complementary but distinct. The 2008 Communication outlines the Commission's compliance promotion activities and they are described below. The 2012 Communication contains a set of ideas aimed at helping Member States to improve implementation on the ground.

The Commission DG Environment promotes compliance with the following tools:

Transposition Implementation plans (TIPS)

As soon as a directive is adopted and during the transposition period it is important to work closely with Member States to provide as much guidance and platform for exchange of views as possible. DG Environment adopts risk-based Transposition Implementation Plans – an inventory and planning of proactive measures to take during the transposition period in order to ensure timely and complete transposition and proper application of a directive with a particular focus on provisions likely to pose difficulties. These may include:

  • transposition checklists;
  • interpretative transposition aide memoire and guidelines;
  • peer reviewable transposition scoreboards.

Since 2008, TIPS are systematically prepared for all important new environmental directives. Some of the outputs of TIPs such as proposed transposition checklists and aide memoires are subject to Member State comments.

DG Environment also encourages Member States to create "dossier teams" at national level. These would comprise networks of national officials, including those at regional and local level, charged with implementation tasks. The underlying rationale is for Member States to engage their own regional and local officials in the same way that the Commission through contact points seeks to engage national officials in implementation follow-up.

Meetings with Member State authorities

Meetings with the national authorities are organised on a regular basis to discuss and address implementation issues. In these meetings DG Environment systematically raises transposition, future deadlines as well as expired ones as an agenda item.

Member States are also encouraged to consult the Commission on their draft implementing measures on an informal, bilateral or workshop basis.

Conformity checking studies

DG Environment uses conformity checking studies in the process of verifying how the provisions of EU legislation are transposed into national legislation. These are outsourced and based on the legislation notified to the Commission by the Member States through the National Execution Measures database. Some examples of conformity checking studies can be found here:

Disclaimer: all listed conformity checking studies do not represent the European Commission’s position.

Networks and expert groups

Professional networks and expert groups are systematically involved, in particular, in developing TIPS and guidance documents. Close cooperation is also developed with the networks of EU environmental judges, inspectors, prosecutors and other stakeholders to promote implementation and enforcement of EU environmental legislation.

EU financing

EU funding is a useful tool after the transposition deadline has elapsed. Financial assistance may be halted in case of non-transposition and non-compliance with the EU environmental requirements. It may also be used to encourage better implementation of EU environmental legislation.