On 7 March 2012 the Commission adopted the Communication on Improving the delivery of benefits from EU environment measures: building confidence through better knowledge and responsiveness. For further information see the press release (IP/12/220), the citizens' summary and Questions & Answers.
A high level of environmental protection is one of the fundamental objectives of the European Union. However, the latest state of the environment reports show serious implementation concerns in key areas, such as, biodiversity, water, waste and air.
Implementation has a cost. But the cost of non-implementation is very often much higher. The costs of not implementing current legislation are broadly estimated at around €50 billion a year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. The Communication also underlines the benefits of environmental law and advantages it can bring to the industry. In the waste sector alone full implementation would generate an additional 400,000 jobs with net costs that are €72 billion less than non-implementation.
Better and more consistent implementation would not only help to achieve the objectives for a cleaner and healthier environment but also to ensure a more level playing field and incentives for green growth.
The objective of the Communication is to intensify the dialogue with governments and all other stakeholders on how we can work better together to achieve better implementation of EU law by moving towards a more systematic approach to collecting and sharing knowledge and by enhancing responsiveness to environmental problems at a local level, closer to the citizen.
Proper implementation requires knowledge of the legislation to be implemented, measures taken and gaps to be addressed. Therefore, the Communication puts emphasis on the importance of reliable and accessible knowledge base that conveys information to professionals and public alike. In this regard the Communication provides a set of ideas how to improve the collection and dissemination of knowledge base both at national and EU level. For example, more systematic information and active dissemination of information would ensure up-to-date and comparable information across Europe and would allow to identify implementation problems earlier.
The key responsibility for ensuring effective implementation and enforcement of EU legislation lies with national authorities and very often at regional and local levels. The goals of greater responsiveness are to build citizen confidence in their administrations that EU environment laws are properly enforced and to promote a level playing field. In this regard the Communication proposes a number of initiatives, namely, improving inspections and surveillance, criteria for how Member States should deal with citizen complaints, more access to justice in environmental matters, and support for European networks of environmental professionals.
The Communication is intended to focus the debate on the implementation with the stakeholders and help prepare the ground for the 7th Environmental Action Programme.
The conference was organised as part of a targeted stakeholder consultation process linked to the Commission Communication on Improving the delivery of benefits from EU environment measures: building confidence through better knowledge and responsiveness.
Session took place in the framework of Green Week "Can Ombudsmen better oversee administrative actions - and inactions - that impact on the environment of present and future generations?" on Wednesday 25 May 2011 in Brussels.