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Evaluation of Environmental Noise Directive

Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (the Environmental Noise Directive) has been in place for more than 10 years. Recently, the Commission identified it as one of the Directives "to be evaluated with a focus on regulatory fitness" in the context of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance initiative (REFIT) and the Better Regulation programme of the European Commission.

This evaluation took place in 2015 and 2016 and addressed questions relating to effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value. The results are summarised in a Staff Working Document with and Executive Summary in English, French and German.


    Summary of the evaluation

  • The Directive remains highly relevant for EU policy-making as noise pollution still constitutes a major environmental health problem in Europe. A common approach to the noise management and harmonised data provide a high-quality evidence base for understanding the issue and further developing EU noise-at-source legislation.

  • The Directive is coherent in itself and with other relevant EU legislation (environmental and noise-at-source legislation).

  • Regarding effectiveness, some progress has been made towards a common approach throughout the EU, but effects materialised only partially due to the delays in adopting common assessment methodologies. Noise population exposure data was so far not used for legislation on noise at source. The Directive is however increasingly drawing attention to the significance of the harmful effects of noise on health.

  • The administrative costs are low (€0.15 for noise maps and €0.03 for action plans per citizen, every 5 years). Cost-benefit analysis showed that where action plans - including measures for noise management - have been implemented, the Directive was efficient with a favourable cost-benefit ratio of 1:29.

  • The Directive can generate EU added value by providing a level playing field across the EU in which transport infrastructure operators can compete, and by better informing EU policy-making. As a result of delays in implementation, the Directive has not yet delivered all its potential EU added value.


The evaluation is based:

  • on a study prepared by a consortium led by the Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services (CSES). This study with all Annexes as well as Country Reports providing more details regarding the implementation of the Directive can be downloaded from the EU Bookshop. The study, its Executive Summary in English and French, its Annexes as well as the Country Fiches can also be accessed directly.

  • on a public consultation (available in 23 official EU languages), which was opened from 21.12.2015 to 28.03.2016.

The conclusions of this evaluation also provided important evidence which has been  considered for the Commission's 2nd  implementation report on this Directive. The report, which is required at least every five years as provided for in Article 11 of the Environmental Noise Directive, has been submitted to the European Parliament and Council in March 2017. The first implementation report was published in 2011, summarising progress in implementing the Directive and outlining possible improvements to enhance its effectiveness.