Implementation of EU environmental legislation in the spotlight in 2019

Although the EU has a very large body of legislation on environment, environmental protection is still a challenge in many areas. For example, a recent report by the European Court of Auditors has concluded that EU action to protect human health from air pollution has not delivered its expected impact. Every year, air pollution causes about 400,000 premature deaths in the EU and hundreds of billions of euros in health-related external costs. The latest Eurobarometer on “Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment” clearly shows that a majority of Europeans think that protecting the environment is very important. Yet, the majority of Europeans say that both the EU and national governments are not doing enough to protect the environment.

As the Commission is getting ready to publish the second edition of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) next year,  the EESC is currently preparing an exploratory opinion at the request of the European Parliament on the implementation of EU environmental laws, particularly in the areas where the biggest shortcomings are found (air quality, water and waste). In this context, the opinion will highlight the important role that civil society - employers, workers and other representatives of society − can play for the effective implementation of environmental protection measures.

Implementation of environmental laws will be put into the spotlight next year also at the EU Green Week (13-17 May 2019). The Commission will be asking questions like – do these laws really matter, and what the added benefits are for citizens? What does successful implementation look like? Why do "implementation gaps" exist? How can we move from knowing that stakeholders need to take ownership of these laws to actually making it happen? And most importantly, how can the EU facilitate the process, making sure that citizens' voices are heard?

EU Green Week 2019 will include events across Europe, with the official opening event on 13 May in one of the Member States and a high-level summit in Brussels from 15 to 17 May. The official opening event will have a particular prominence, setting the tone for the Week's debates, and the European Commission is now launching a call for proposals to select an organisation(s) that, in partnership with the European Commission, will host the official opening event of EU Green Week 2019.

You can find the guidelines here. The deadline for submission is 31 October at 17:00 (Brussels time).

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