15.2.1 European directives
As part of the growing body of European legislation, there are many directives in force covering all manner of subjects and topics. Directives relating to environmental management are numerous. The following is a sample and is by no means exhaustive:
- Environmental impact assessment directive (Council Directive of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment).
- Urban waste water directive (Council Directive 91/ 271/ EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatment).
- Habitats directive (Council Directive 92/ 43/ EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora).
- Landfill directive (Council Directive 1999/ 31/ EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste).
- Water framework directive (Directive 2000/ 60/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy).
- Strategic environmental assessment directive (Directive 2001/ 42/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment).
- Large combustion plant directive (Directive 2001/ 80/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants).
- Waste electrical and electronic equipment ‘WEEE’ directive (Directive 2002/ 96/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 2003 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)).
- Floods directive (Directive 2007/ 60/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on the assessment and management of flood risks).
- Integrated pollution prevention and control directive (Directive 2008/ 1/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control).
- Waste framework directive (Directive 2008/ 98/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste).
- Birds directive (Directive 2009/ 147/ EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds).
- Industrial emissions directive (Directive 2010/ 75/ EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)).
European directives are used to align different national laws, and are particularly common in matters relating to the operation of the single market (e.g. product safety standards). The directives specify certain end results that must be achieved in every member state within a certain timeframe. Member states are responsible for ‘transposing’ the directive into the national context by adapting their laws to meet these goals. However, national governments have considerable freedom on how they achieve that. Infraction proceedings and fines can be imposed on the member state for failing to adopt the directive.
In contrast, national governments do not have to act to implement European regulations. This is because, as the most direct form of European law, they have binding legal force throughout every member state as soon as they are passed. Regulations are on a par with national laws.
The percentage of European directed environmental law and regulations applying in the UK is hard to determine for a range of complex reasons, but is estimated to be in the region of 50% for environmental areas (Miller, 2010).
As you can see from the above listing, just the directives alone cover many aspects of environmental management, which will shape the way organisations work and manage their activities.