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Actions to improve environmental compliance and governance (Communication)

EESC opinion: Actions to improve environmental compliance and governance (Communication)

Key points

  • The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the Communication in question, yet with some reservations. It feels that the European Commission's action plan to improve compliance with environmental legislation and environmental governance is severely lacking in both ambition and resources, given the current level of environmental degradation.
  • The EESC is all the more cautious as, like the Commission, it acknowledges that a lack of respect for the mechanisms that guarantee the implementation of environmental legislation and governance is a regrettable factor that contributes to unfair competition and economic harm.
  • The EESC also joins the Commission in stressing that current shortcomings are undermining people's trust in the effectiveness of EU legislation, and calls on the Member States and the Commission to mobilise substantial funding for the recruitment of additional staff, in order to monitor the implementation of environmental governance and legislation.
  • As stated in the Better results through better application communication[1], "infringements of EU law are no routine matter" and should not be treated as such. The EESC thinks non-compliance with EU law needs to be addressed at an appropriately high level and in a timely manner, which is not the case in the current communication[2].
  • The communication only addresses capacity-building and support at Member State level. None of the measures relate to monitoring and enforcement at EU level by the Commission as "guardian of the treaty". The action plan fails to address reasons for non-compliance beyond confusion and lack of capacity, such as opportunism and lack of political will. While support of Member States is necessary, the soft measures of this action plan cannot be the sole strategy for improving environmental compliance.

[1]2017/C 18/02   [2] COM(2018) 10.