The EC's environmental action plan is severely lacking in both ambition and resources

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has warned that the European Commission's environmental action plan, aimed at improving the poor and uneven implementation of EU environmental law and governance across the EU, shows a serious lack of ambition and resources, proposing measures that are too weak to adequately and uniformly sanction non-compliance by Member States.

"This is only a tiny fraction of what is needed to ensure that environmental legislation is implemented," the author of the opinion Arnaud Schwartz said. "We think that non-compliance with EU law needs to be addressed at an appropriately high level and in a timely manner, which is not proposed in the current communication."

In the EESC's view expressed in a recent opinion, the Commission – as the "guardian of the treaty" – must ensure that environmental rules are enforced and has the right to instigate enforcement proceedings as it has a key role in protecting this common EU interest, especially in the light of the current serious level of environmental degradation.

However, the plan only talks about capacity building at the level of Member States. Another objection is that it suggests measures solely to counter non-compliance caused by confusion or poor understanding, without addressing other important reasons such as the lack of political will.

In order to properly monitor environmental compliance, Member States and the Commission should secure substantial funding for additional staff, the EESC concluded. (ll)