A new report from the European Environmental Bureau highlights shortcomings in how EU countries enable public participation in environmental decision-making. Meanwhile, LIFE is investing in better governance and capacity-building.
The report, entitled ‘Power to the people’, was released at the end of April 2019 by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) as part of the project Implement for LIFE.
EU law is enacted through regulations and directives. In both cases, laws agreed by the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the EU need to be transposed into national law. While regulations should be transposed directly, the EU gives national authorities some leeway about how they apply directives.
In terms of environmental law, the EEB finds that EU governments are failing to enable the public – normally through NGOs – to get involved in legal action, respond to consultations in a timely way, or have access to information in environmental matters. These factors fall within the international Aarhus Convention.
The EEB’s report highlights the role of the European Commission as guardian of the treaties to make sure public participation is respected across the EU.
LIFE investing in governance
The EU recognises that good governance is essential to environmental protection. The LIFE programme has supported 75 projects since 2014 dedicated to governance and information, investing around €75 million. It has helped local, regional and national authorities to develop, promote, monitor and enforce compliance with EU environment legislation at all levels.
- capacity-building for a European network of environmental prosecutors;
- operational capacity support for national environmental crime enforcement bodies;
- helping inspectors across the EU work together on applying the Waste Shipment Directive;
- training for public authorities, environmental inspectors and other professionals.