How effective is EU environmental legislation?
In most cases it is impossible to tell, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency called Reporting on environmental measures: Are we being effective?
There is no shortage of reporting obligations imposed on governments - in fact Member States often complain about "reporting fatigue" - but much of the information collected about environmental measures is of limited use in assessing their effects and effectiveness, the report finds. For the majority of EU measures, greater efforts are needed to demonstrate a causal relationship between them and their effects on the environment.
The twin challenge facing Member States and the EU institutions is thus to devise a revised reporting system that will provide more information about the effects and effectiveness of EU environmental measures while also lightening the burden on governments by limiting collection and reporting requirements to the most essential types of information. This goal is reflected in the draft decision on the 6th environment action programme currently under discussion in the Council of Ministers and European Parliament.
The new report, which can be downloaded from the EEA's web site at http://reports.eea.eu.int/rem/en , provides answers to the following questions as a contribution to the development of a more effective and streamlined reporting regime for the future:
- Why is it important to evaluate the effects and effectiveness of EU environmental policies?
- How far do reporting obligations in current EU environmental legislation help to assess effects and effectiveness?
- What information and methodologies do we need for evaluating effects and effectiveness?
- How can evaluations of effects and effectiveness be built into the design of legislation?
- Are there alternative mechanisms, other than through reporting obligations, for assessing effects and effectiveness?
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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