The Environmental Implementation Review

There are daily reports in the media on the economic restrictions decided by the European Commission and requested of the member States. We hear about letters, controls, assessments that impose financial restraints, often to the detriment of individuals. These measures are regarded, perhaps justly, as vexatious, but the EU institutions merely put into action the decisions of the member States. It’s like blaming the ordinary soldier for decisions taken by their colonel.

The Commission has taken some other steps that are less discussed in the media. For example, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR COM (2016) 316 final) is a tool for improving the effective implementation of the EU’s environmental legislation.

We recall that the EU is an area with one of the most advanced sets of environmental legislation in the world. This is not a moral “boast”, but rather it expresses the need to preserve the planet by showing the “virtuous” path to follow. Furthermore, the failure to enact environmental protection policies has high environmental, economic and social costs. We therefore welcome this measure that draws attention to the environment.

The EIR works through biennial reports on every Member State. These are aimed at highlighting gaps, measures and solutions for implementing EU environmental policies that risk being infringed. The Review, which is part of the 7th Programme of Action for the Environment, stresses the need to prioritize the strengthening of the implementation of EU objectives. In this way it is hoped also to help Member States identify and understand what is lacking in terms of putting existing environmental policies into practice.

We are not talking about environmental “checks”, then – this is the job of the European Environment Agency – but simply of finding out whether EU environmental legislation is being correctly applied or on the way to being so. This may seem at first glance like an additional bureaucratic burden, but in fact it is an effective way of getting a snapshot of the situation of environmental policies throughout the EU. At the same time, it is a great help to national environment ministries which are able to use this analysis to push forward national environmental policies.

The Environment Directorate has already published its first report for the 28 member states. The overall picture that emerges shows the various weaknesses and the challenges that must be faced. Some of these challenges are common to more than one member state, which is why it is interesting to learn that there is also a programme to help national governments cooperate with one another (TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER) .

What does the report on Italy say?

It recognizes that Italy is in the vanguard as regards voluntary agreements and that it has one of the highest levels of EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) and ecolabels in the EU. Here we list only the points on which Italy must improve its environemntal policies in order to be in line with those of Europe as a whole: waste management, soil management, flooding, atmospheric pollution, completion of the delineation of the special conservation areas for biodiversity. The report as a whole, which is attached here, is an invaluable reference source for all those in Italy who are concerned with the environment.

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