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Environmental Compliance Assurance

What's new?

  • 22/01/2021: the 5th meeting of the Environmental Compliance and Governance Forum took place as a virtual event focussing on access to justice in environmental matters and the revision of the Environmental Crime Directive. Meeting documents and presentations are available on CIRCABC.
  • Vade Mecum on complaint-handling, available in different languages.
  • Summary guide on handling environmental complaints, available in different languages.
  • Vade Mecum on environmental compliance assurance in rural areas.
  • Good practice document on combatting environmental crime.

What is environmental compliance assurance?

The European Union has helped put in place rules to provide society with environmental benefits that include clean water, breathable air and a healthy nature.

Environmental compliance assurance describes all the ways in which public authorities promote, monitor and enforce compliance with such rules. It is part of environmental governance.

  • Promote means helping businesses and others to comply. It covers awareness-raising, guidance and advice.
  • Monitor means collecting information about levels of compliance and providing solid evidence for enforcement. It covers routine inspections, police investigations, audits by public audit bodies, and examination of complaints from the public.
  • Enforce means stopping those who disregard the rules, sanctioning them and obliging them to rectify the damage. It covers, amongst other things, official warnings, cease-and-desist orders, administrative or criminal proceedings, application of sanctions, and demands to take remedial action.

Environmental Compliance and Governance Forum

In January 2018, the Commission adopted an action plan to increase compliance with and improve governance on EU environmental rules. A Commission expert group, the ‘Environmental Compliance and Governance Forum’, was established to help steer the work and enable an exchange of views between professionals with responsibilities in the field of environmental compliance assurance. The Forum meets regularly.

The Forum is composed of representatives of Member States and representatives of European networks of compliance assurance practitioners and authorities, particularly environment agencies (NEPA), inspectorates (IMPEL), police officers (EnviCrimeNet), prosecutors (ENPE), and judges (EUFJE).

Ongoing work (2020-2021)

The Forum approved a new work programme at its 4th meeting in February 2020.

Completed work (2018-2020)

Guidance on complaint-handling
Vade Mecum, available in different languages.

Summary guide on handling environmental complaints
Summary guide, available in different languages

Guidance on environmental compliance assurance in rural areas
Vade Mecum (the summary guide for public administrations is being finalised).

Guidance on combatting environmental crime
Good practice document (the Vade Mecum and summary guide are being finalised)

Technical guidelines for inspections of extractive waste facilities

Training needs of IMPEL practitioners
Full report

Assessment of Environmental Governance in the Member States
Study report and Member States reports

Exploring the feasibility of an Environmental Implementation Portal
Study report

Read and see more

Related pages

Environmental crime

There are specific instruments and initiatives relevant to combatting environmental crime.

Environmental inspections

There are specific provisions and initiatives relevant to environmental inspections in Member States.


The Environmental Liability Directive establishes a framework based on the polluter pays principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage.




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The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.