EC announces guidelines to identify when environmental damage needs to be prevented and remediated


On March 25 the European Commission published guidelines clarifying the scope of the term ‘environmental damage’ in the Directive on environmental liability. These guidelines will help Member States to better assess whether damage to water, land and protected species and natural habitats must be prevented or restored by explaining the scope of each of these categories in detail.

In addition, they will offer greater legal clarity and harmonisation of its interpretation and application. These guidelines will support the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, and thus the preservation of water quality.

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “Nature is under severe pressure from human activity and pollution, and halting the loss of biodiversity is a huge challenge for us all. These new guidelines will help towards achieving the objectives of our Biodiversity Strategy and our upcoming Zero Pollution Action Plan by making it clearer when actors are liable for environmental damage that they cause”.

The next steps to follow foreseen these guidelines as part of a wider effort by the Commission to strengthen implementation of the Directive on environmental liability, and more generally to strengthen how Member States follow up problems related to environmental harm and non-compliance with EU environmental legislation (including the Water Framework Directive). The Commission will thus work with the Member States and stakeholders to ensure that the guidelines are used correctly in the implementation of the Directive.


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