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Environmental Implementation Review

EESC opinion: Environmental Implementation Review

Background

The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) aims to help fill implementation gaps and to maximise the benefits of Union environment legislation by offering tailored-made support to Member States, for example by organising capacity building workshops, knowledge exchange with experts from other Member States or making use of European Structural Funds. It should create the opportunity for a structured dialogue with the Member States and the other EU institutions, and where appropriate with stakeholders, on environmental issues, aimed at further narrowing the implementation gaps. The Communication will draw conclusions from 28 country reports and provide guidance to Member States on how to take action.

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Key points:

In the EESC's view, the EU Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) reveals that poor, fragmented and uneven implementation of the EU environmental legislation is a serious problem in many EU Member States.  Behind the root causes of poor implementation identified in the EIR there would appear to be a lack of political will on the part of many Member-State governments to make substantial improvement a political priority and to provide sufficient resources. The EESC underlines that proper implementation of the EU's environmental acquis is in the interest of European citizens and has real economic and social benefits.

The EESC welcomes the EIR as a new approach and an important step in an ongoing process which is intended to establish a joint commitment by the Commission and the Member States to improve the implementation of environmental policies and legislation. The EESC endorses the integrated policy approach of the EIR and points out that this must also apply to the integration of environmental and social policies.

 The EESC points out that effective implementation of environmental protection measures hinges partly on civil society - employers, workers and other representatives of society - being granted an active role. The EESC regrets that civil society's key role is not sufficiently reflected in the EIR. Stronger involvement of civil society would have the potential to strengthen the EIR project. Civil society organisations at national level must be given the opportunity to contribute their expertise and insight to the country reports as well as to the structured country dialogues and the follow-up to them. The EESC is ready to facilitate civil society dialogue at EU level.