Implementation & enforcement

Effective implementation and enforcement are essential to achieve the objectives of any legislation. We believe that ‘law without enforcement is just good advice’ (Abraham Lincoln). For the EU to achieve its policy objectives, its laws must be implemented and enforced in the Member States. Since 2003, Milieu has supported the European Commission in assessing whether Directives and Regulations are properly implemented and enforced.

To assess implementation and enforcement, we examine a wide range of activities including transposition, compliance promotion, monitoring and enforcement. We understand that effective implementation and enforcement of EU laws involves a wide range of players and activities within the Member States. We support the Commission in helping those players work together. The European Commission also has a vital role in enforcing EU legislation through infringement proceedings. We have assisted the Commission in this work by identifying failures to transpose, implement or enforce EU law within Member States. We have also analysed the benefits of enforcement actions by the Commission.

Some examples of Milieu’s work in this field are:

European Commission, DG JUSTICE, Evaluation Study on the Implementation of Directive 2008/99/EC on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law by Member States

The European Commission is placing increased emphasis on implementation and effective enforcement of its framework of environmental legislation. Criminal law has come to be viewed as necessary for deterring particularly serious environmentally harmful acts and for promoting compliance with environmental regulations. Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law, adopted on 19 November 2008, was the first EU Directive to contain provisions on criminal law.

Milieu reviewed the environmental and criminal law of all 28 Member States to ensure that environmental crimes were being addressed with effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. This work involved both legal research and interviews with national practitioners.  We compared the way in which different Member States dealt with environmental crime and the levels of sanctions imposed.

European Commission, DG Environment, Support services to enforcement networks to enable their contribution to the actions on environmental compliance assurance and governance

Milieu has worked closely with key environmental enforcement networks to help them to contribute to the actions of the Environmental Compliance Assurance and Governance Forum.  We worked directly with the different networks which bring together environmental inspectors, prosecutors and judges to establish their training needs to ensure that they have the skills needed to effectively enforce EU environmental law in their Member State.  We also organised meetings and workshops to help environmental practitioners to collaborate with their peers in other Member States through the enforcement networks.

European Commission, DG ENVIRONMENT, Study to assess the benefits delivered through the enforcement of EU environmental legislation

This study was the first attempt to measure the impact of the Commission’s enforcement action in the environmental field. We carried out this assessment through a case-by-case analysis of a selection of 244 infringement cases brought by the Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union between 1994 and 2014. These cases related to non-compliance with a selection of ten directives covering five environmental sectors: waste, water, nature protection, air and environmental impact assessment.

The results of the study suggest that enforcement action by the European Commission brings benefits by reducing losses caused by the lack of implementation of EU laws. Beyond that, benefits to citizens, duty holders (authorities and businesses), and to society at large, can also be observed. The enforcement activities of the European Commission play a key role in the protection of the rule of law across the EU and benefits are observed in terms of better governance, with improved visibility and better inclusion of citizens in the protection of their environment.