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How the Commission implements the Environmental Liability Directive


The ELD Directive requires the Commission to carry out an evaluation before 30 April 2023 and every five years thereafter.

2023 Evaluation

This evaluation is included in the Zero Pollution Action Plan as an action to improve compliance by all relevant national authorities with EU pollution prevention laws. The scope and objectives of the evaluation are explained in the call for evidence published in November 2022.

The evaluation process should take into account:

  • information from Member States (2022 Member States’ Reports)
  • the public consultation and numerous other stakeholder consultation activities, including Stakeholder workshop of 22 November 2022
  • the European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2021 on the liability of companies for environmental damage 
  • the European Court of Auditors Special Report 12/2021 of 5 July 2021: ‘The Polluter Pays Principle: Inconsistent application across EU environmental policies and actions’
  • the findings of the 2016 evaluation of the Directive

The evaluation process is also assisted by a study being prepared by external experts.

Previous evaluations

2014 Commission report

The key findings emerging from this report are that the Directive has improved

  • the standards of prevention and restoration of environmental damage
  • the application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle
  • strict liability across the EU for environmental damage
  • EU-wide liability for biodiversity damage and
  • public participation and access to justice for people affected and NGOs

At the same time, implementation still varies significantly from one country to another in terms of the number of ELD cases and the way the Directive is implemented.

The observed ‘patchwork’ of environmental remediation, together with the lack of some key data on implementation and on the cost (both administrative and financial security), is a major challenge addressed by the Commission Report including its REFIT Evaluation (Executive Summary).

2010 Commission report

A 2010 report (correction) evaluated the effectiveness of the Directive in terms of actual remediation of environmental damages and on the availability at reasonable costs and on conditions of insurance and other types of financial security.

Multiannual Work Programme

The three main pillars of the 2021 - 2024 Multi-Annual Rolling Work Programme are

  • improving the evidence base for evaluation and decision-making for the Commission, Member States, stakeholders and practitioners (assessment framework and ELD registry)
  • supporting implementation through tools and measures for more even implementation (common understanding of terms and concepts, capacity building and training)
  • ensuring sufficient availability of financial security, in particular for large losses or in case of insolvency (secure, sufficient and available instruments to cover ELD liabilities)

The previous Multi-Annual Work Programme (2017 – 2020) was developed in response to the REFIT evaluation. This evaluation showed clear knowledge and implementation gaps that needed to be tackled in a more structured and systematic way.

The implementation of the Multi-Annual Work Programme was supported by an external service contract. View the results of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the contract.

ELD Expert Group

The implementation of the ELD Directive is supported by a group of national government experts working together with the Commission. The group of national experts meets regularly and provides advice and expertise to the European Commission on coordination and cooperation with Member States, the implementation of the ELD Directive and the preparation of legislative proposals and policy initiatives.

Training materials

The Commission has developed training materials for operators, competent authorities and other stakeholders. It consists of a trainer handbook and powerpoint slides. Further information on the potential use of the training material can be found in the handbooks.

A separate ELD presentation has been also developed as part of the Environmental Law Training.