Member States are legally obliged to properly and fully implement EU environmental policy and law. This is essential to protect human health, to preserve a healthy environment and to avoid related unnecessary economic costs. Fully implementing EU environmental laws could save the EU economy around EUR 55 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment.
When EU laws are not properly implemented, the Commission can take legal action. However, to avoid reaching that stage, the Commission first offers technical support to Member States to guide them through implementation. The EIR is a useful tool that presents a snapshot of the implementation shortcomings and the necessary priority actions to redress the issues.
The EIR individual country reports map out the implementation of the key environmental policies in each EU country. They identify causes of implementation gaps as well as solutions that have been successfully implemented. The EIR also aims to assist national decision-makers by outlining the priorities requiring their attention. The EIR process is inclusive and participative, flexible and complements existing work on environmental implementation.
The overall objective of the EIR is to improve the implementation of EU environmental laws and policies in EU Member States.
In doing so, it identifies and addresses the main implementation gaps and their underlying root causes. It provides solutions in the form of priority actions and the use of technical assistance and exchange of good practices amongst Member States. It also raises the profile of the shortcomings in implementation and improves the accessibility of information on the implementation gaps for all stakeholders.
Individual Member State reports address all relevant environmental thematic areas. They highlight the main challenges and achievements of each Member State in implementing key EU environmental laws and policies. The reports also suggest priority actions to improve implementation. Ultimately, it is up to Member States to choose the most effective ways to implement EU laws and policies as long as they achieve the EU’s common environmental objectives and targets laid down therein.
The environmental thematic areas addressed in the EIR are
- circular economy and waste management
- biodiversity and natural capital
- zero pollution (namely air quality, industrial emissions, major industrial accidents prevention, noise, water quality and management
- climate action
EU legal implementation in these thematic areas is shored up by ‘enablers’, that is, EU funding, environmental governance and technical assistance (Commission’s Technical Support Instrument and the EIR-TAIEX PEER 2 PEER tool). Therefore, a second part of the EIR focuses on this enabling framework.
The first package was adopted in 2017 and the second in 2019.
In addition to the country-specific reports, the 2022 package included
- a Communication identifying common challenges across countries and how to combine efforts to deliver better results, including an Annex that summarises suggested actions for improvement for all countries
Support to Member States
The Commission supports Member States through technical and financial support and, if necessary, with expertise underpinning structural reforms.
TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER tool
The “TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER” tool facilitates learning between environmental authorities. It provides tailored support to national authorities implementing environmental policy and legislation. Through the tool, expert missions, study visits and workshops will receive financial support from the Commission.
Funding for the environment
Financing environmental projects is essential for their success. EU funds contribute to closing the investment gaps in Member States. This Vademecum has been created to assess opportunities and prepare funding and financing strategies that address the environmental objectives of the European Green Deal (EGD). It contains practical references for project promoters, authorities in charge of the implementation of projects in the Member States and other stakeholders. Find your EU funding programme for the environment - Publications Office of the EU (europa.eu).
Technical Support Instrument
The Technical Support Instrument is the EU programme that provides technical support to design and implement reforms in Member States. The support is demand driven and is provided in a wide range of policy areas, including to help implement EU environmental law.
EIR expert group
An expert group comprising of Member States and stakeholders meets twice per year to discuss progress on the Environmental Implementation Review and on greening the European Semester.
EIR country dialogues
A country dialogue is a means of mutual communication between governments and administrations and other stakeholders, including civil society, based on the findings of the EIR. It is for national authorities to make use of this instrument, but the Commission strongly encourages these debates to find solutions to the challenges identified in the EIR reports.
The Commission has published guidelines on organizing EIR dialogues.
Environmental infringements map and dashboard
Infringements of environmental law account for the largest number of cases dealt with by the European Commission - about 20% of the total. To complement and accompany the Environmental Implementation Review, an interactive map on pending environmental infringement cases is now available.
Through the EIR, the Commission reports on EU legal implementation shortcomings and the necessary priority actions and on progress made by each Member State to protect human health and safeguard the environment. It also highlights enforcement efforts made by the Commission to help Member States with environmental implementation.
In 2016, with its first EIR communication the Commission committed to regular EIR cycles. It now benefits from a renewed mandate stemming from the European Green Deal and the European Green Deal investment plan. The European Green Deal points out that the Commission and Member States must ensure that policies and legislation are enforced. It underlines that “the environmental implementation review will play a critical role in mapping the situation in each Member State”. This was reinforced by the European Green Deal investment plan, which puts the Environmental Implementation Review on par with other instruments such as the European Semester or the national energy and climate plans under the Energy Union. It will also serve to identify the investment needs of each Member State in the key sectors of environmental policy. The EIR is in line with the Commission's Better Regulation policy, which includes improving implementation of existing legislation and policies and is linked to the process of Greening the European Semester. It fits in with a series of activities for improving the implementation of environmental legislation.
Studies and reports
For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.